Passing ISO and TS audits with no findings
WorkflowOne, one of North America’s largest and fastest-growing providers of print, promotional products and value chain management solutions, wanted to appeal to more customers in the automotive industry. That would require its Goshen, Ind. plant to achieve IATF 16949 and ISO 9001 certification
“We were not going to be able to open doors to new business if we did not obtain ISO/TS certification, and existing automotive business would have been at risk,” said Kurt Schnabel, Manager of Quality.
After an extensive search for an expert consultant, WorkflowOne hired simpleQuE Inc., to assist with the certification project. “We really liked simpleQuE’s approach, which we got a sense of during the interview process,” Schnabel said. “We very much agree with and support its approach of not reinventing the wheel.”
As Schnabel and his company would soon learn, simpleQuE’s signature approach would go a long way toward gaining internal acceptance of the standard, since it wasn’t necessary to re-do everything. Once it began working with WorkflowOne in March 2006, simpleQuE quickly identified areas that were already compliant, which gave the company a strong starting point for its project plan.
“WorkflowOne had more than 12 months of data that was fully compliant with TS requirements in most areas,” said Jim Lee from simpleQuE. “There were just a few exceptions, so the company had to add some new measures. But it was able to take credit for much of what it was already tracking, monitoring and measuring, and was able to easily go back in historical records to create 12 months of data that wasn’t previously monitored.”
He continued, “There are many things that companies do that already meet certain aspects of the standard, so keep, recognize and take credit for the things you do. Then fill in any blanks and gaps and develop any additional processes that you need to make one continuous and unified approach.”
“simpleQuE’s approach of keeping it simple and utilizing everything currently being done by our organization was most appealing,” said Bridget Hamilton, Manager of Quality Administration at WorkflowOne. “It created an immediate bond upon which to build the foundation of our certification project. The company provided us with the project plan and we implemented the plan. SimpleQuE is the ideal consultant.”
Added Schnabel, “simpleQuE pointed out to us that these mechanisms we already had – these management processes already in place – did a fine job of addressing a number of the requirements. We needed to fill in here and there but it was a good starting point. That was key for us, just to understand what we were doing and then making sure we pointed it out and presented it correctly. simpleQuE’s gap analysis and advice were concise and on target.”
One of the hurdles WorkflowOne encountered in complying with the stringent TS requirements centered around its instrumentation calibration. “We have a variety of different devices that we use to measure product for quality purposes and some of them are not easy to tie to a national standard,” said Schnabel. “One is our composition department where we actually design and compose print documents, but from that same equipment we also print off flexible rulers that are used to measure the end product.”
To allow for that dual purpose, the instrumentation had to be calibrated to a standard, something that WorkflowOne could not do on its own, said Schnabel. “simpleQuE helped us figure out how we could create a grid off the system and then send that grid out to a third party who could measure and certify that grid reference to a national standard. From that point on, any output from that artwork system would be calibrated and we would therefore be compliant.”
WorkflowOne also needed to focus very heavily on customer requirements, according to simpleQuE’s overall assessment. “Sales reps were the liaisons between the plants and the customers so the plants were shielded from what was really required since the sales reps were doing a lot of that work,” Lee said. “With the TS standard, that just can’t be. The plant needs to be fully aware of all the requirements to be fully compliant so that was a key culture change that had to occur.”
“simpleQuE had taken us through the whole project of building up our processes, developing our mechanisms and our responses to all the TS requirements and then about six weeks before the official audit, he actually went through and audited us as if he were the auditor,” said Schnabel. “He pointed out areas we still needed to beef up to close any gaps so by doing that, we were pretty well prepared for the official audit.”
In November 2006, just eight months after simpleQuE was brought in to assist with the certification project, WorkflowOne achieved ISO 9001 and IATF 16949 certification at its Goshen, Ind., plant and Dayton, Ohio, headquarters with zero findings. As Schnabel noted, “To have no findings in our first attempt at certification is a great accomplishment, much of which can be attributed to simpleQuE’s efforts.”
Added Lee, “To have two auditors spend three days digging deep within a company, especially one that has never been certified to anything before, and have no findings in a registration audit according to the automotive criteria, is unprecedented. That is a great accomplishment.”
WorkflowOne’s reliance on simpleQuE’s expertise and resources has continued with assistance in getting the Charlotte, N.C. plant IATF 16949 and ISO 9001 certified; getting the Columbus, Ohio service center ISO 9001 certified; and providing training to all plants on various topics.
“Charlotte had fallen to one of the lowest quality plants among all the WorkflowOne sites,” said quality manager John Siejkowski. “Within a year of achieving our IATF 16949 certification, we are now the second-best in quality behind the Goshen plant and have been recognized by the corporation as the ‘Most Improved Plant.’ We’ve made a 54% improvement in quality as a percent of sales, or less than half the quality problems based on dollar impact to the company.
SimpleQuE continues to assist other WorkflowOne locations with their certification and training needs, which includes root cause analysis/problem solving, internal auditor and the automotive core tools training.
“SimpleQuE’s guidance and training were huge in our success,” Weirich added. “SimpleQuE kept the training that was conducted at the plant level easy to follow. As long as a company has the drive to accomplish a huge task such as becoming certified and has the guidance of simpleQuE, there is no doubt in my mind that any organization can accomplish the same certifications WorkflowOne has achieved in Goshen.”