What Value Does ISO 9001 Add?

At Instron®, we recognize the importance and the impact of your test results. When used in an R&D application, our equipment is helping you make business decisions about new processes or new materials. In a QC setting, we understand that our customers sometimes use our equipment for acceptance testing on an entire lot of production material. If results from our equipment are not accurate, or if our equipment does not perform as expected, we understand the impact on your business. With this understanding and our desire to exceed your expectations, Instron’s quality management system stands above our competitors.

Instron has a long-standing commitment to quality, as evidenced by our continuous 20-year certification to the ISO 9001 standard. If you are not familiar, this international standard is one of the most widely used and accepted standards because it can be adapted to almost any business, regardless of size or industry. I’ve found that although many people have heard of this accreditation, they are unsure how doing business with an ISO 9001-certified supplier can add value.

So, as a proud member of the Instron team and Quality Manager in North America, what would I want my counterpart at a customer site to know before making their purchase decision? Let’s review it with reference to the ISO 9001 standard. Hopefully when you are finished reading this, you will understand how doing business with an ISO-certified supplier adds great value. More specifically, I hope you will understand how doing business with Instron will add value because of how we have modeled and carry out our quality management system in line with the ISO 9001 standard.

At the core of our quality management system, our Quality Manual (5.3 Quality Policy) defines not only our commitment to provide you the best ownership experience through quality products, support and service, but also our commitment to our quality objectives, quality awareness with our customers, suppliers and stakeholders. These aren’t just words that we splash on our website. We’ve defined Quality Objectives (5.4.1 Quality Objectives), and we measure our performance against those objectives at various points in our process. First, we conduct bi-annual quality management reviews (5.6 Management Review). At each management review, we review the performance of the quality management system against our goals and take action when we are not meeting those objectives. 

Below are Instron’s Quality Objectives:

Quality at the Core

There is an entire section of the ISO 9001 standard dedicated to improvements (8.5 Improvement) and a specific requirement (8.5.1 Continual Improvement) for an organization to “continually improve the effectiveness of the quality management system …” Instron has always had a strong focus on continual improvement, but this was amplified when Instron was acquired by ITW in 2005. ITW has put continuous improvement at the forefront and sets annual goals to measure this achievement.  

In addition to these continual improvement projects, we also have a defined process for corrective and preventive action (8.5.2 and 8.5.3 respectively). What this means is that when we identify a non-conformity we have a process that not only reviews the issue at hand but seeks to prevent that issue from recurrence.

We are proud to boast a customer satisfaction rating of nearly 90% and find ourselves in good company with the likes of Mercedes Benz, Lexus and Toyota. To assess customer satisfaction (8.2.1 Customer Satisfaction), Instron uses third-party providers to survey how we did throughout the customer experience. In cases where we find our customers less than satisfied, we have a designated process to follow up with the customer, understand the issue, and solve it. This again points to our corrective and preventive action policy (8.5.2 and 8.5.3).

We truly value customer input and are constantly asking what we can do to better serve our customers. When I am a consumer, I’m always happy to know that a company is interested in my assessment of their product. With these surveys, it’s clear to see Instron has the same mindset.
Customer Satisfaction
We touch on this quality objective in several points in our processes. We chase freedom from defect, starting at the earliest points in our design process. Previous failure information is an input into new product development.  As we work with our suppliers to procure goods, we evaluate our suppliers (7.4 Purchasing) prior to doing business and hold them accountable to our quality standards. We meet on a quarterly basis with key suppliers to review their performance and make supply chain decisions based on their performance. If we can’t receive a quality product when needed, we realize that affects our ability to get you a quality product on time. We also investigate returns of discrepant material from customer sites (8.2.4 Monitoring and Measurement of Product). With our intense focus on reduction and elimination of defects, you can feel more confident as a customer that our products and our processes will meet your demands.

Instron has a rigorous design and development process (7.3 Design and Development), which is managed by several stage gates. We have defined requirements for each gate that shall be completed, and criteria that must be met prior to release of the product. This means that you have a reduced risk in doing business with us because our engineering designs are thoughtful and thorough. The designs have been reviewed, tested, tweaked and tested again before being released.  

We are also reliable in terms of our time commitments to you.  Instron measures our on-time shipment performance (8.2.3 Monitoring and Measurement of Processes). Currently, we are at 92% on time for the year.  

EM TOT on Time 

Safety is a key word at Instron, and you can find our focus on it throughout the organization. Foremost, we can confidently identify our designs are safe because prior to release of the product (7.3.4 Design and Development Review), a safety officer and the design engineer conduct a comprehensive review and risk assessment.  Operator safety is a key consideration in all of our designs. If the design does not meet the requirements of the safety audit, that product will not ship until the appropriate changes have been made to the design.  

While manufacturing our product, safety is actively practiced to keep the shop floor safe (6.4 Work Environment). We have implemented a 5S+S program where workstations are reviewed for cleanliness and safety.

Our service engineers in the field have undergone training (6.2.2 Training) on best practices for a safe working environment. Moreover, as part of new customer installations, these service engineers can provide instruction on safe operation of your new Instron.   

To garner the culture of safety throughout the company, our Safety Committee meets monthly with employees from all departments in the organization, and our Hazard Hunt program rewards employees for identifying potential safety hazards. Just last fall, we carried out a Safety Risk Assessment Tour at our Worldwide Headquarters and had over 90% employee participation at that facility.  

Instron continuously serves customers in a wide variety of industries. If you don’t think your industry applies, I’d be willing to bet we could get to a relationship well before we’ve saturated all six degrees of separation. For this reason, our products are suited for specific use (7.2 Customer-related Process). As part of the order process, upon receipt of an order, we organize a suitability review of the content of that customer request. You can rest easy knowing that we’ve captured your testing needs and verified that you will have what you need to carry out tests upon arrival of the equipment.

As you can see from this background of the many facets of Instron’s quality management system, we are all focused on providing our customers with the best equipment and the best ownership experience. I wish more of our customers could see this incredible work and care behind the scenes.

Posted By Courtney Coyle On March 06, 2012, 10:00

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