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Understanding ISO 9000: its impact on American foundries and diecasters.

Answering some of the basic questions surrounding ISO 9000 is the first step toward understanding its importance.

A groundswell of interest in the worldwide quality assurance standard, most often referred to as ISO 9000, is appearing among U.S. foundries. Many European (and almost all British) foundries are actively pursuing this standard. ISO 9000 is concerned with the assurance of a given standard of quality on a consistent, everyday basis, through the development of a systematic way of running the foundry in all its aspects, but particularly in its management procedures.

There are a number of reasons for this trend. While in the United States the move toward this standard is only in its early stages, many U.S. foundries remain unaware of the pressures that will eventually force most of them to register under ISO 9000. This situation presents a number of real benefits to foundries that act promptly and appropriately. The most obvious advantages include increased sales opportunities, as well as the substantial internal efficiency benefits that can be gained.

Some evidence shows that the first moves toward the ISO 9000 were instigated by the British Ministry of Defense, which in the 1970s began to insist that major defense contractors become certified to a British Standard (BS 5750), rather than be registered under a British Ministry of Defense Standard (which had been policed by the Ministry itself). There are numerous national equivalents to the International Quality Standard, ISO 9000: BS 5750 in Britain, EN 2900 in the European Community, and ANSI/ASQC Series Q90 in the U.S.

Before going into detail about why and how American foundries should register under ISO 9000, it is important to understand the many questions surrounding this worldwide quality assurance standard. The answers to these questions provide a clear overview of the potential and pitfalls involved in ISO 9000 for the American foundry industry.

What Is a Quality System?

A quality system is a way of ensuring that company policy (in any type of firm) is carried out by all departments throughout the organization. First and foremost, it must be a formal, written policy in which you must say what you are going to do--and you must do what you say. A quality system also insists that you can demonstrate that it has been done.

What Is ISO 9000?

ISO 9000 is a general, universally recognized specification for a quality assurance system that is comprehensive, logical, practical and independently certified by accredited assessment bodies. There are several levels of quality systems within ISO 9000.

It should be noted that the generic ISO 9000 itself is not a standard, but a set of guidelines for the use of ISO 9001, 9002 and 9003. ISO 9004 also is not a standard but is a set of explanatory notes to help users apply the other standards. Some of the other quality levels include:

ISO 9001--an all-embracing standard that covers all aspects of company operations, including design and development, production, inspection, installation and servicing. This level is likely to be an overkill for foundries because they do not, in general, design their own products.

ISO 9002--the standard to which foundries are almost always certified, is a subset of ISO 9001, leaving out the design and development aspects. It is designed to cover businesses where the product requirements are stated in terms of established designs or specifications. In other words, this is the standard applied when you manufacture to someone else's design.

ISO 9003--a minor subset of ISO 9001, it covers only final product inspection and testing. In practice, it is almost never encountered.

What Is the Goal of ISO 9000?

The goal of ISO 9000 is to ensure you are right the first time, every time and on time. In other words, ISO 9000 seeks to promote good management control practice for the mutual benefit of both supplier and customer.

What Is Its Purpose in U.S. Foundries?

Adherence to ISO 9000 demonstrates a foundry's capability to control processes and assures the quality of its products and services. In addition, it was developed to prevent errors and problems, to detect errors and problems that may arise and to prevent their recurrence.

How Will It Relate to the Individual Foundry?

ISO 9000 specifies the general form or outline of the quality system in a series of clauses. For example, your foundry specifies what it is going to do to satisfy these clauses and how it is going to do it. It then specifies how it is going to demonstrate that the clauses have been satisfied. The standard must be interpreted to your unique situation and for each of your foundry's various departments and operations.

What Are the Clauses of ISO 9000?

The number of clauses depends upon whether ISO 9001 or ISO 9002 is being considered. ISO 9002 (ANSI/ASQC Q92--1987) has 18 clauses covering the following areas:

* Management Responsibility

* Quality System

* Contract Review

* Document Control

* Purchasing

* Purchaser Supplied Product

* Product Identification and Traceability

* Process Control

* Inspection and Testing

* Inspection, Measuring and Test Equipment

* Inspection and Test Status

* Control of Nonconforming Product

* Corrective Action

* Handling, Storage, Packaging and Delivery

* Quality Records and Quick Servicing

* Internal Quality Audits

* Training

* Statistical Techniques

How Are Clauses Applied in Practice?

Quality Assurance Manual--To translate the requirements of ISO 9000 into practice within a foundry requires the creation of a quality system that is described in the company's quality assurance manual and quality assurance procedures.

The quality assurance manual is a relatively slim document, which, if it were to fall into a competitor's hands, may worry him about your professionalism, but will not tell him how you achieve this standard. Figure 1 shows a page from a typical quality manual for a fictitious ISO 9000 certified foundry.

Quality Control Procedures--The relatively brief statements in the quality manual regarding individual clauses of the standard are cross-referenced to a set of detailed quality control procedures that describe the systems. This ensures that people are instructed correctly on how particular tasks are carried out.

Under all circumstances, the quality procedures should be kept confidential because they divulge operational detail that could be useful to a competitor. Figure 2 shows a page from a typical set of foundry quality control procedures that is cross-referenced to the quality manual page shown in Fig. 1. The relative amounts of detail are obvious.

Work Instructions--Work instructions define how individual tasks are to be carried out, as opposed to quality control procedures, which define the systems by which conformance to correct instructions is ensured. Detailed work instructions are needed to ensure that, even when a supervisor is missing for a day or more, the work can proceed in the correct manner to assure satisfactory quality. Because instructions are available in a clear written form and describe exactly how the given task should be performed, there is no excuse for incorrect processing of the castings.

Why Bother with ISO 9000?

The major reasons why foundries should consider certification include the following: customer pressure; competitors are doing it; good marketing and public relations; less hassle; reliance on systems, not individuals; cost savings; product liability laws; and special customer needs (government, military, auto industry, etc.).

Currently within the U.S. market, there are few pressures to comply with ISO 9000. But if the European Market is attractive for doing business--and it is now equal in size to both the American and Japanese markets combined--then it will be essential for U.S. companies to be ISO 9000 registered. Even the U.S. domestic market is showing signs of complying with ISO 9000 as major corporations, such as AT&T and DuPont, have adopted ISO 9000 standards.

What Help Do Foundries Need?

To register under ISO 9000, a foundry must convince an accredited assessment body that it has reached and can maintain the appropriate level of quality management. This is done by the accreditation body auditing the quality manuals, procedures and other quality documents and then assessing whether the foundry is conforming to its own system as described in manuals and procedures.

The auditing process normally takes a day or two, on-site at the foundry. At the end of the visit, the foundry will be told whether it has "passed." One or two minor nonconformances--that is, discrepancies in the system--are allowable and can be corrected without hindering the auditing process. More nonconformances result in a failure and the need for a complete reassessment.

Typical accrediting assessment bodies in the U.K. include organizations covering a range of industries, from Lloyds Register of Quality Assurance and the British Standards Institute to specialist organizations that cover a particular industry. As of yet, there is no such specialist body for the American foundry industry, although there are several general accredited assessment bodies.

Foundries applying for ISO 9000 registration will find that specialist skills will be needed to carry out a number of tasks. These include: writing a quality assurance manual; writing quality procedures; providing guidance in implementing the various disciplines and in interpreting the 1001 queries that arise concerning the best way to conform to the requirements of ISO 9000; and helping the foundry get ready for the assessment itself.

In practice, these skills will be needed at the company for only a short period of up to about six months; thereafter they should be unnecessary.

However, without these special skills, most companies flounder, and many fail in their application for ISO 9000 registration. In Europe, it has become the norm for foundries to engage a foundry-experienced consultant to write manuals and procedures, design quality documents, and guide the foundry through the labyrinth of assessment.

A consultant is often a logical choice. He or she can be engaged at short notice at predictable costs. If chosen correctly, the consultant can be effective from day one and can be "fired" painlessly at the end of the exercise.

What Should Foundries Do About It?

As explained above, a consultant can play a major role in helping your company become ISO 9000 accredited. However, you may feel that consultants are expensive.

This is not true if the consultant gives value for money delivered--that is, he ensures that you get ISO 9000 accreditation quickly and (relatively) painlessly.

The author has worked with many European foundries seeking ISO 9000 and suggests that any interested U.S. foundries should discuss this matter with the American Foundrymen's Society, which will be in the position to help in a practical way. During the next several months, modern casting will be publishing a series of papers on the use of ISO 9000 in the U.S. foundry industry. We suggest that readers will not waste their time if they read these papers.

Mr. Law will be a featured speaker on the subject of ISO 9000 and foundries during the AFS Foundry Executive Management Conference on September 13-16 in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

TEC Foundry, Ltd. Quality Control Procedures

Section: 4.3 Procedure No: P3 Page: 1 of 1 Revision: 0 Date:

Contract Review

P3.1 Inquiries

1. Inquiries shall be examined on receipt by the Sales Manager, and a decision shall be made at the outset to either accept or reject them based on the type of product and specification, current work volume and manufacturing equipment available.

2. Rejected inquiries shall be returned to the customer or the potential customer detailing the reason for rejecting the inquiry:

-- outside the current scope of the company's registration

-- outside the current company's facilities

3. Accepted inquiries shall be logged in the inquiry register by the Sales Manager, and a contract review sheet (G2) shall be raised and attached to the inquiry.

4. Drawings shall be identified with a "Quotation Only" Stamp (G28) and endorsed with the Inquiry Register number.

5. Estimate and Feasibility Sheet (G21) shall be raised for the applicable Inquiry/Quotation.

6. Subcontract costs shall be obtained for any outwork required (e.g., pattern manufacture) and subcontracted processes, and a detailed estimate of the cost shall be determined.

7. Any specific quality requirement shall be investigated by the Technical/Quality Manager, and these shall be detailed on the applicable Estimate and Feasibility Sheet (G21).

8. After completion and agreement of the estimate, the Sales Manager shall raise a Quotation Letter (G20) for supply to the customer or potential customer.

9. The Sales Manager shall establish during Contract Review the requirement for the following:

-- traceability of castings

-- Certificate of Conformity with each delivery

TEC Foundry, Ltd. Quality Assurance Manual

Section: 9 Revision No: 0 Page: 1 of 1 Date:

Contract Review

9.1 All Inquiries, Orders and Order Amendments are reviewed to ensure that the requirements are understood and that the company has the capability to meet them.

9.2 Orders, Order Amendments and Verbal Orders received from customers are registered on an Order Check Sheet for entry on the computer.

9.3 Any requirements that differ from the original quotation are investigated, and changes are discussed with the customer in order to obtain total agreement and understanding of them.

9.4 If, during the contract review, it becomes apparent that the manufacture of finished castings is to be subcontracted, possibly to a source outside the BS 5750 registered scheme, then the Sales Manager is to discuss and agree with the customer.

9.5 When the Inquiry, Order or Order Amendment has been reviewed and the following requirements have been complied with:

-- the requirements are adequately defined and documented

-- the company has the capability to comply with the order requirement

-- any requirements differing from those in the quotation are resolved

The details are then entered onto the computer data base.

9.6 If the customer supplies a Confirmation Order, the details recorded on the Order Check Sheet are verified.

9.7 During contract review, the Sales Manager or Technical/Quality Manager is to establish on the customer's order or specification if the following are required:

-- traceability of raw materials

-- Certificate of Conformity
COPYRIGHT 1992 American Foundry Society, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1992, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

Article Details
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Title Annotation:quality assurance standard
Author:Law, Trevor
Publication:Modern Casting
Date:Jun 1, 1992
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