I would like to make some observations regarding a number of ideas presented in your April 21 News Analysis on Page 12, ``P & Y Associates challenges ISO registration.''
Two years ago, our company made the commitment to upgrading our quality assurance system to be compliant to the ISO 9002 standard. We weighed the costs of the project against the benefits we hoped would accrue and, with the help of a consultant, began to lay out our implementation schedule. We were actually members of a local business consortium working toward the same registration goal. The consultant worked with the group and the individual companies to refine their systems, giving direction on procedure documentation and implementation.
At this point, I suppose we could have represented our system as ISO 9002 compliant but we knew that we would have a credibility problem. We knew our system was good. Our consultant knew that our system was good. In the view of our current customers and potential new ones, however, this was still only our opinion. Further, from the outset we knew that if our system was to be truly compliant, easily the majority of the cost would come from making it so, not from a registration audit.
The next step was to choose a registrar. A number of criteria were used. Our system would not be compliant with the international standard unless it was independently audited by a registrar accredited by the national authority for registration by ISO. This was the independent opinion customers were looking for and what provided the basis for the integrity of the system. Since we do business internationally, we chose a registrar that was accredited with the Standards Council of Canada and ANSI-RAB in the U.S. We would also be able to register our system in Europe, through our registrar, to the requirements of the Dutch Council for Certification.
It has not been our experience that registrars ``pop up.'' They are required to be accredited by the national board or council recognized by ISO and have to meet their standards. Typically, the not-for-profit board or council has technical or administrative representation with ISO. A main source for national boards or councils for technical expertise is from accredited registrars. Registrars provide the link between ISO and companies who seek to conduct their affairs according to international standards.
They help to interpret how the standard is to be applied on a consistent basis from country to country or industry to industry. Consultants then, are effective if they can provide expertise on the current registration of registrars.
Our registrar was able to provide auditors that were quite familiar with plastics processing. Our operators can attest to this. We found their questions and observations quite pertinent to our operation and processes.
Last week [April 14], after two days of audit, we received notice from our registrar that our system is in compliance with ISO 9002-94. Since it is our intention to keep our system current, we will be making arrangements for a compliance audit next year. At that time, we may have to assure compliance with revisions to the 1994 standard as well. After reading the article, questions stuck in my mind. If a company is confident that they employ an effective quality system, why would they want to keep that information to themselves? Why not register it and have it accepted nationally and internationally? Why not use compliance to the standard to their competitive advantage?
Custom Foam Systems Ltd