The importance of plant reliability in your ISO-9001certification. 


This is a two-part series on the importance of the ISO-9001 certification, and how to implement a quality management system with a focus on plant reliability to acquire and maintain this standard.

  • The first part of the series “ISO 9001: Keeping Plant Reliability in Mind Part 1″ focussed on details surrounding the new ISO-9001 update, the focus of which was customer satisfaction, and the two highest challenges to the current manufacturing environment that threaten customer satisfaction and downtime.
  • This part of the series focuses on the real cost of downtime and how it affects all aspects of a company including customer satisfaction. The discussion will address the shortage of skilled tradesmen who have a proficient understanding of troubleshooting, and the training options available to improve your plant’s reliability and quality management system.

What is the true cost of downtime?

Management knows how detrimental downtime can be regardless of the intent to get certified for the ISO-9001. Labor costs, repairs, lost revenue, loss of future business, loss of production capacity, the perception of services provided, and a company’s reputation for delivering, are all factors that raise the heart rate of supervisors with the loss of production time.

While an auditor will be looking for strategies to reduce downtime for the sake of customer satisfaction, sensible companies know they should be finding methods to minimize downtime for their financial health (and perhaps personal health). Most managers know this, but often they have so much on their plate that they just don’t have the time to refine their practices. Ironically, managers who find practical solutions for downtime free up time to tackle the rest of their workload.


As mentioned recently in, “The True Cost of Downtime: What You Don’t Know About How Downtime Affects Your Productivity.”,the automotive industry is a stellar example of the cost of downtime. In 2006, automotive manufacturing executives in the United States estimated production line downtime costs at about $22,000 per minute or $1.3 million per hour.

Get started with Simutech Multimedia’s award-winning electrical troubleshooting simulation system today!

Reducing downtime

As noted in our last segment, the practices of “plant unitization” and “just-in-time delivery” present a significant threat to customer satisfaction. As plant utilization goes up, the risk of downtime increases leading to the possibility of a late order. While companies work under circumstances that make downtime inevitable, there is one practice that reduces downtime significantly.

The strategies a company has in place to manage risk and threats to productivity will carry significant weight with an auditor. One of the best practices a company can throw into their Quality Management System is staff well trained on troubleshooting.

Even the best preventative maintenance practices should be reinforced with an effective troubleshooting strategy that gets you up and running again quickly.

Unqualified laborers to the rescue

Technology in the manufacturing sector is becoming more advanced and there is a nationwide shortage of trades workers qualified to deal with this trend. With new technologies like automation, skilled workers are needed more than ever in maintenance and troubleshooting.

Unfortunately, when machines break down, laborers are often not experienced enough to find the cause of the malfunction. They may have an excellent understanding of other disciplines but have limited knowledge of how to diagnose the cause of a breakdown. The uninformed laborer will often perform a guessing game, resulting in the replacement of incorrect parts, leading to a longer delay.

Training Your Staff

Finding workers that practice safe and proficient troubleshooting can be a hard task — however, training your staff on effective troubleshooting is a great option. If you want to improve your chances of getting the ISO-9001, strengthen your plant reliability, and decrease the risk of excessive downtime, there are many ways management can go about training their team in troubleshooting. Some typical forms of troubleshooting education include:

  • The Classroom Setting
  • Physical Simulations
  • The Textbook Approach
  • Online Courses
  • On-Site/ Off-Site Instructor Led Training
  • A Hybrid of These Methods

Our post, “Professional Development: Proficiency vs Familiarity and Your ROI”  further details these options.

What method works best?

All of these methods have their costs and benefits. We recommend a hybrid of approaches to help your staff retain the information needed to proficiently troubleshoot, and be confident in their ability to solve complicated troubleshooting problems. The program provided by Simutech Multimedia offers a hybrid training system that features virtual instructor-led course material as well as a simulation-based environment for tangible, hands-on, practical experience.

Create your own “crack” troubleshooting team

If you want to impress an ISO auditor with your companies ability to deliver a quality service even when machinery shuts down, you should educate your staff on electrical troubleshooting. But don’t just train your team to be familiar with troubleshooting, prove to your auditor that you have staff around the clock that are proficient troubleshooters. When the line has stopped running, and time is the most precious, an A-team of troubleshooters can safely identify and fix the problems with your machinery to get it up and moving quickly. An auditor will be much more inclined to approve your ISO-9001 certification if you have a strategy of using an expert team of troubleshooters to address the risk of machinery breakdowns that affect delivery time.

Remember customer satisfaction

The number 1 objective of the ISO-9001 standard is to achieve customer satisfaction. Even the best preventative maintenance practices cannot eliminate all downtime. And since downtime is inevitable, every preventative maintenance plan should have a troubleshooting strategy. While you might want to get better production utilization out of your equipment and have “Just in Time” delivery for financial reasons, you better have a strategy to address the risk of unscheduled downtime if you want to be ISO-9001 certified. Empower your employees with Simutech troubleshooting programs and implement a quality management program your ISO auditor will admire.

This concludes both segments of the series “ISO-9001: Keeping Plant Reliability in Mind”. You can learn more about troubleshooting or gain industry knowledge here.

Get started with Simutech Multimedia’s award-winning electrical troubleshooting simulation system today!

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