What does the company do if it wants the quality of its manufactured products, customer service and environmental care to be a source of pride for each of its employees? The answer is that it tries to stay within accepted quality standards at every functional step and stage.
This is a goal that we share. As such, in Autumn last year, we started to implement an Integrated Quality & Environment Management System. This system is based on the ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 14001:1996 quality standards granted us by the British Standards Institution. So what does this mean? The accepted standards using a Process Approach, based on the 'Deming Cycle': Plan - Do - Check - Act.
This approach facilitates pre-analysis of all stages and functional steps taken within the company, from production processes and logistics to sales. Their order and mutual correlation was clearly defined and because of this, the separate processes integrated with each other - one resulting in the next, providing each other with information and products.
Specific criteria and evaluation methods ensure their effective conduct and supervision. In order to monitor these processes, access to appropriate equipment and information was assured.
The accepted standards also impose a certain method of documentation functionality within the company. Documentation may be made in any form and in any medium, but must have an appropriate structure. Documents have to be approved and their current versions have to be made accessible via, for example, the company intranet.
One of the most fundamental documents in the company is the one which defines the quality and environmental policy, the formulation of which is the responsibility of the company management. This policy has to be distributed and understood throughout the company and its content should be familiar to every employee. They don't have to know it all by heart, but they do have to know how to apply its principles to their own work. Company policy is analysed on a daily basis to ensure that it is current and appropriate. The performance of this analysis is based mainly on audit results, client opinion and information on the course of processes within the company.
Client opinion is a vital form of information - in accepted company policy, the primary goal is to obtain client satisfaction (from both external and internal recipients, e.g. a colleague from the painting department, receiving a heating unit to be painted). Study of client satisfaction levels is one part of the new requirements in the accepted ISO 9001 standards version, and the results of that research forms a vital evaluation indicator for the entire company's activity. A group of company personnel was made responsible for researching client needs and expectations, and new channels of communication were opened with the clients, covering, amongst other things, information on products and the obtaining of opinion and complaints.
Survey, analysis and monitoring are constant activities related to the supervision and improvement of the entire company's operation, including purchases, product manufacture, delivery to the client and after-sales care. This is accomplished by internal auditing (conducted by company employees) and external auditing (conducted by British Standards Institution employees).
Ultimately though, responsibility for the high quality of the company's products and for their environmental care falls on everyone in the company: from the Chief Executive and his deputies, down to each individual employee. The pursuit of quality consumes everybody's work.