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Implementing a quality management system to achieve operational excellence

The ISO 9001 standard is all about common sense in managing small and midsize manufacturers.

The standard ensures overall excellence in how the business is run, an important factor in the quality of a manufacturer’s products.

Written by customers to ensure that their suppliers can consistently provide high-quality products in a timely manner, ISO 9001 measures customer satisfaction, reduces risk of disruption, focuses on continuous improvement and establishes controls to ensure product quality.

Manufacturers that embrace this standard actively prevent problems and employ a system to consistently improve their business.

The Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership works to fit ISO 9001 to your culture. There are no canned programs when you work with the WMEP. It is your system once certification is achieved. The WMEP has vast experience with ISO implementation and has assisted more than 40 companies with implementation and internal auditing.

ISO 9001 certification is beneficial to manufacturers of all sizes. For the fast-growing small company, ISO can foster exponential growth by adding systems, consistency and continuity.

For manufacturers that supply large assembly companies and original equipment manufacturers, ISO can help prevent bad lots and late shipments.

At the root of ISO 9001 is ensuring that manufacturers have a system for consistently implementing improvements.

Regardless of size, manufacturers seeking to improve their management need to consider ISO 9001. In order to get maximum results, the system should be implemented throughout an entire organization, rather than just certain departments or locations.

Manufacturers that become ISO 9001 certified prove their value to customers and open doors to increased sales and an expanded group of customers.

Centered in Geneva, Switzerland, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an independent, non-governmental organization that develops and publishes international standards in collaboration with 163 national standards bodies.

Its documentation provides guidelines that can be used consistently to ensure that materials, products, processes and services are fit for their purpose.

Upgraded in 2015, the new standard focuses on:

  • Systematic improvement through Plan-Do-Check-Adjust
  • Processes to run the business, not just the shop floor
  • Understanding the context of the organization, including the expectations of interested parties and internal/external issues
  • Actions to prevent or mitigate business risks
  • Capturing tribal knowledge to prevent loss from employee departures
  • Employee awareness of the need to follow rules and requirements

For more information about the WMEP’s ISO 9001 offerings and other services, please visit

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Jennifer is a Manufacturing Consultant for the Wisconsin Manufacturing Extension Partnership (WMEP).

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