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After ISO certification: using the standard day to day.

Officials at Pennsylvania Steel Foundry & Machine Co. say achieving ISO certification is only half the battle. The real challenge comes in maintaining the standards.

Last June, after two years of preparation, Pennsylvania Steel, Hamburg, Pennsylvania, was awarded ISO 9002 certification from Lloyd's Register Technical Services. It became the first East Coast foundry to be certified in ISO 9002. "Achieving ISO 9002 certification was well worth the investment," said Dan Goodyear, Penn Steel president/CEO. "Being certified forces good management disciplines and paves the way for continuous improvement. As a result, I think we will benefit internally in the short-term, and we'll receive a return on our investment in sales as more people become acquainted with ISO 9000."

A producer of carbon, low alloy and stainless steel castings, Penn Steel employs 250 workers and has a melt rate of 500 tons of steel per month. Now that the foundry has undergone its first six-month post-certification assessment, modern casting asked managers at Penn Steel how they are using the standard as a cornerstone to drive their foundry.

We contacted Bill Easterly, vice president-operations/technical director; John Edwards, quality assurance manager/management representative for ISO 9002; David Meas, manager-foundry operations; and Jim Gerner, manager-production control. They reflected on the road to quality, and offered insight on how the standard will help them in the challenging years ahead.

How do you plan to use your certification to your advantage in improving your operation?

Easterly: Management is using internal audits as a tool to better control our processes. The six-month audits come very quickly, and basically, we aren't allowed any time to stray off track. We give preferential treatment to vendors who are ISO certified, and we also now have better control of vendor delivery and quality, including subcontracts.

With full support, the ISO system helps assure proper procedures are documented. Through training and internal audits, we assure that this is done. In addition, I hear certain customers that are ISO 9000 certified are going to start demanding their suppliers are also certified.

Edwards: To maintain the standards that have been set, we must continue to work to our written procedures. Also, as practices change, the procedures must change.

Meas: The systems implemented allow us to continuously improve the quality of our product. By following procedures, we can repeat the results of a good process, and identify and correct the results of a bad process.

Gerner: By following all procedures, we should maintain better control of all operations. Therefore, we'll provide a better quality product.

What did your recent post-certification assessment by your registrar consist of? Easterly: The six-month assessment by Lloyd's was not nearly as intense as our original audit. It was more of an audit of how we maintain and manage our system through our own internal audits and corrective actions.

Edwards: The post-certification assessment is much like the original one, except the time period is shorter so only a few departments are assessed. The surveillance programs are scheduled every six months and notification is given as to which departments will be assessed.

What is the biggest challenge in meeting and maintaining the standards?

Easterly: The biggest challenge is updating the system and training employees to meet all changes. Training temporary transfers also presents bookkeeping challenges.

Meas: The idea of continuous improvement. We can't just be happy with our performance "as is."

Gerner: Making everyone follow the procedures that were written is a big concern.

Was it difficult to convince employees that certification was the easy part?

Easterly: There's a misconception that ISO certification and total quality management equals "the desire to work." We still require work directives and quotas, but now there seems to be more interaction with employees who are interested.

Edwards: Yes. Once the certification was awarded, we had to maintain our standards and keep doing everything we did to become certified.

How did you keep employees from relaxing once the certification was awarded?

Easterly: We had to educate employees that a poor program was changed. The relaxing part was more of a problem with management. Management felt the hard part was done, and the rest was easy. It is still a business that requires daily care. ISO is a tool to be used for management, not a substitution.

Edwards: We kept up the continuous training in job techniques and quality procedures as well as followed up with an effective internal audit program.

How do you view your operation differently today as a result of going through the certification process?

Easterly: We have standards for all processes. Employees are involved on a "want to" basis instead being "forced." There is better front-line supervision participation in quality than ever before, and our internal audits of all personnel show increased management involvement.

Edwards: I've noticed our workers seem to understand their procedures more than before--especially with special processing. I believe our operation has improved to some degree and the majority of workers are more quality-minded than ever before.

Meas: Because of the certification, we're always looking for ways to approach things differently to improve quality.

Gerner: We are more aware of details and more paper oriented.

Now that you're on the other side of the fence, what is the biggest misconception of ISO 9000?

Easterly: The customer edge. Immediate productivity and quality improvements don't necessarily take place overnight just because methods are documented.

Edwards: I'd say a myth is that once you're certified, you'll have orders coming in left and right. Your company won't be overwhelmed with orders simply because of ISO certifications. Some also think customers will no longer audit your facility, and that's not the case.
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Title Annotation:Pennsylvania Steel Foundry and Machine Co.'s ISO 9002 certification
Publication:Modern Casting
Article Type:Interview
Date:Feb 1, 1994
Words:936
Previous Article:Turning your foundry around.
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