VEGA Americas – Where Quality and Measurement go Hand in Hand

From left:  Ron Foltz, Manufacturing Manager; Bob Herbst, QC Technician; John Kronenberger, COO; Gretchen Lisi, Quality Manager; and Nickie White, RIG Champion.

VEGA Grieshaber KG is a global manufacturer of process instrumentation. Its product portfolio includes sensors for measurement of level, point level, pressure as well as equipment and software for integration into process control systems.  Its subsidiary, VEGA Americas, focuses on the design, manufacturing and servicing (including Radiation Safety Training) of Nuclear Measurement Systems.  The facility also manufactures, tests and services the full range of VEGA Measurement Systems.

Because quality and measurement go hand in hand, VEGA has been ISO 9001 certified since 1997. When the company needed to transition to the new standard, they utilized the expertise of simpleQuE quality consultant, Don Milinkovich, to conduct a gap analysis.  Following an action plan to close any gaps, VEGA Americas achieved ISO 9001:2015 recertification through Eagle Certification Group.   Congratulations to the VEGA team where they know how to Run, Improve and Grow (and even have a designated champion just for that purpose)!

SimpleQuE on the Go and in the Know


This week, while Vice President, Deanne Sparr, is attending AIAG’s 2018 Southern Automotive Quality Summit in Birmingham, AL,  President, Jim Lee, has immersed himself in everything space and defense at ASQ’s Collaboration on Quality in the Space and Defense Industries conference and NASA’s Quality Leadership Forum.

These types of industry conferences and training keeps us at the forefront of the latest rules, regulations, trends and best practices to share with our consultants and clients across the aerospace, defense and automotive industries.

For example: At the NQA Global session, it was reported that as of mid-February only 29 percent of aerospace businesses had transitioned to the AS9100:2016 standard, however, as of last week it was up to 41% with a target of 50% by the end of March.  Deadline for all to transition is September 14, 2018.

From Exploring Space – Is It Safe? presented by Astronaut Bill McArthur, to NASA conducted Counterfeit Parts Awareness and Inspection Training, quality is the topic interwoven throughout the conference and the critical piece that all in the industry rely on to launch us into space.  Check back for more news as we process all of the great information we’ve gathered from the sessions.

When Should You Hire a Quality Management System Consultant?

business, architecture, construction, teamwork and people concept - happy group of architects with tablet pc computer discussing blueprint at office

Whether your company is in the manufacturing or service industry, if you were considering implementing a new accounting or software system, which was completely outside of your staff’s expertise, wouldn’t you consider contracting with someone considered an expert in that particular area?

The same principle applies when it comes to ISO, AS or IATF certification. Hiring a consultant to prepare your company for certification can be well worth the investment, whether you’re going through certification for the first time or transitioning to a new quality standard (for instance, changing from ISO 9001:2008 to ISO 9001:2015).

Often, business owners, and sometimes even quality managers, don’t have the time or adequate knowledge of the standard to do a gap analysis and prepare an action plan themselves. An experienced consultant has gone through the implementation process in a variety of industries, and will be able to quickly understand your company’s processes and how to most effectively recognize gaps in the requirements. Going with an experienced consultant who has a significant track record in planning, developing and implementing systems greatly increases the likelihood of a successful certification.

It’s certainly possible for a company to implement a system on its own. However, doing so can prove to be detrimental to other areas of the business as resources are often stretched too thin. The employees responsible for implementing the system could fall behind on other obligations, and these setbacks can quickly outweigh any money saved by not hiring a consultant from the start.

An often overlooked benefit to hiring a consultant is objectivity. An outside consultant can bring a fresh and unbiased perspective to your company and systems. You’ll often find that a consultant provides simple and sustainable solutions that may have been overlooked by your own team.

Additionally, by hiring a consultant you’ll ensure you’re putting the right person in charge of the project. Implementing ISO, AS or IATF standards requires a strong leader who can oversee a coordinated effort. Most consultants are natural leaders able to energize all parties involved and keep the project moving forward at a good pace. Depending on the complexity of your processes, a consultant can help you focus on only what is required for certification, often finishing the project in less time than it would take using your company’s own resources.

In seeking a consultant you’ll want to make sure they have the skills relevant to your organization and industry.  SimpleQuE  consultants have educational backgrounds and work experience that make them experts in their fields.  In addition, many are current or former 3rd party auditors and ready to serve in an advisory role or for implementation, project management, training or internal auditing. SimpleQuE can assist in first-time systems development for certification; upgrading certification to a new standard; simplifying a cumbersome quality system and documentation; defining processes and process mapping; documentation and systems implementation; internal audits and gap analysis for improving your quality or environmental management system.

No matter the size of your company or the industry, having ISO or other certification will distinguish you from the competition. Hiring a consultant can help you achieve certification with ease, after all, it’s what simpleQuE is known for – Simple Quality Excellence.

SimpleQuE has consultants throughout the Eastern U.S. that can guide you through the certification process in ISO 9001, ISO 14001, IATF 16949, and the AS9100 series of standards.

WRWP Makes the Calculated Jump to ISO 9001:2015

WRWP, LLC (Western Reserve Wire Products) has been designing, building and distributing wire harnesses since 1987.  Through the years they have evaluated and implemented more efficient means of production with state of the art equipment and manufacturing plants in China to reduce time and costs for their customers, while maintaining a high standard of quality.

The engineers at WRWP often work with their customers’ engineers in the design phase of new products to produce the best possible fit and function for the wire harness that will be needed, thus reducing unnecessary changes down the road.  And with that approach, in 2015 WRWP searched for a consulting firm that was the best fit and function to review their quality management system and develop a customized implementation plan to achieve ISO 9001:2008.  They selected simpleQuE, and with consulting and training support, achieved their certification.

Due to that success, when it was time to transition to ISO 9001:2015, they again turned to the experts at simpleQuE who utilized a Fast Track approach and developed an action plan while utilizing a detailed gap checklist to identify where WRWP was already compliant and where gaps existed.  Over the next several months with the guidance of simpleQuE consultants, their quality team worked hard to close the gaps while maintaining their quality system and improving internal processes. That preparation resulted in zero findings and certification to the new standard by Smithers Quality Assessments.  Congratulations to the team at WRWP!

Not ready for IATF Certification? MAQMSR May Be an Option

worker with protective mask welding metal. in Industrial automotive part. in car production factory.

For automotive suppliers who are having a difficult time meeting the requirements of the new IATF 16949 quality standard, Minimum Automotive Quality Management System Requirements for Sub-Tier Suppliers (MAQMSR) may be an option you want to consider in conjunction with ISO 9001 certification.  With initial audit results coming in from certification bodies, it is evident that companies are failing to comply and in some cases IATF certification can’t be achieved.

IAOB released the top IATF 16949 findings based on 3,172 audits conducted as of August 2017 – the top 5 non-conformances overall were written against:

  • 5.1.5 Total productive maintenance
  • 5.1.1 Control plan
  • 1.2.3 Contingency plans
  • 5.1 Control of production and service provision
  • 2.3 Internal auditor competency

As an option for suppliers, the Minimum Automotive Quality Management System Requirements for Sub-Tier Suppliers (MAQMSR) was released in September 2017 as a possible intermediate step for a supplier’s Quality Management System (QMS) under the authorization of IATF 16949, Section 8.4.2.3.c and Sanctioned Interpretation, SI #8.

Conformance to MAQMSR helps a lower tiered supplier transition to IATF 16949 by allowing many of the key Automotive Requirements to be met while developing the remainder of the QMS. The ultimate goal of the supplier development process is to achieve 3rd party registration to IATF 16949.  It is important to note that the customer determines the path and steps, so approval must first be obtained before proceeding.  The suggested steps of supplier development referencing 8.4.2.3 are as follows:

  1. Certification to ISO 9001 through 3rd party audits
  2. Certification to ISO 9001 + compliance to MAQMSR through 2nd party audits* (suppliers who did not achieve upgrade transition may consider this)
  3. Certification to ISO 9001 + compliance to IATF 16949 through 2nd party audits*
  4. Then finally certification to IATF 16949 through third party audits

MAQMSR aligns the Automotive QMS Requirements with the corresponding IATF 16949:2016 section(s); however, it is not certifiable or a third party auditable standard, though the guideline may be referenced during a second party audit *(by customer or with a qualified 2nd party like simpleQuE).

SimpleQuE consultants have been assisting companies to understand their options and make the change to drop ISO/TS 16949 and prepare for ISO 9001:2015 certification.  Upon receiving  customer approval to use 2nd party audits to be compliant with MAQMSR, our consultants can provide guidance for that process and perform the audits.  For more information on MAQMSR, contact us.

SimpleQuE Earns ISO 9001:2015 Recertification

ISO 9001 - quality management system. Businessman select ISO 9001 certification.

We did it!  SimpleQuE has been recertified to ISO 9001:2015 by Eagle Certification Group through December 2020. Our initial ISO 9001:2015 certification was in November 2015 right after the standard was released and we were one of the first to be certified.

“The majority of companies have waited until the last possible year to upgrade to the new standards. This is consistent with the past, when changes to the standards occurred. The problem now is that all the key standards (ISO, automotive, aerospace, environmental) have the same expiration date of 9/15/18 and everyone is rushing to get it done at the last minute. The capacity constraints on registrars, consultants, and auditors is evident and organizations that have not begun the transition process are in serious jeopardy of losing their certification, especially if attempting to wing it with the registrar and not doing anything new to comply with the new standards.”
-Jim Lee, simpleQuE President.

The ISO 9001:2015 certification provides us many benefits and is a big differentiator over our competitors. This is especially critical since this standard and common structure are integrated into other management system standards like environmental, aerospace and automotive.  It also provides simpleQuE with cost savings, an innovative service offering, market access, and a high level of customer confidence and satisfaction.

As an organization that is ISO certified, it proves to our clients that Quality Excellence can be made Simple. It’s what our company name means. For over 10 years, our simple approach has allowed us to have a quality manual that is only a few pages as we put our simple best practices to work in our own company. At simpleQuE, we don’t take a cookie cutter approach, therefore, we don’t implement our processes at our client sites. We look at what works for them and leave that alone, only focusing on those areas that don’t comply.  Considering each company’s culture and unique situation results in different solutions for each client.

As the transition deadline of September 14th approaches, we encourage organizations that are still working on their implementation or transition certification to keep at it, ask questions, and ask for assistance.  Demonstrating a commitment to maintaining the effectiveness of your system, continual improvement and customer satisfaction will put you in the lead.  ISO 9001:2015 certification is an internationally recognized distinction that will benefit your organization for years to come.

Silberline

Silberline was founded in 1945 by aluminum industry pioneer Ernest Scheller.  His vision was to create a business that would provide the highest quality products and customized service with unyielding integrity.  Today Silberline continues that vision as a global manufacturer and supplier of high quality special effect and performance pigments that enhance the visual appeal of coatings, paints, inks, plastics and textiles. Still a family owned business, Silberline has over 700 employees world-wide with manufacturing, technical and research centers in Europe, Asia and North America.  Their products are utilized in a variety of markets including automotive, graphic arts and printing inks, plastics, and industrial coatings.

In 2015 Silberline began the search for a consulting firm that could assist them not only with transitioning to ISO 9001:2015 (along with ISO 14001:2015 for 1 site) , but also a company that understood the complexities of international, multisite and corporate certifications. SimpleQuE fit that criteria and assigned 4 consultants and a project manager to work with the quality teams at the headquarters in Tamaqua, PA and 3 other manufacturing sites in PA, IN and Scotland to prepare them for the transition. By September 2017 they had addressed the gaps in their quality systems, implemented new quality management software and were ready for their surveillance audits with BSI Group.  As a result, all 4 sites passed and received their ISO 9001:2015 certifications! In addition, the Scotland site also transitioned to ISO 14001:2015.  Congratulations to the entire Silberline team!

Photo taken at Silberline Global Headquarters – Tamaqua, PA

Front Row: Sheila Setcavage (Quality System Manager), Jennifer Mikovich (Site Manager, Hometown), Lisa Scheller (Chairman), Jan Moos (VP Innovation/New Product Development), Herb Whildin (Manager, Pilot Plant/Process Improvement/Technical Support)

Back Row: Blake Russell (simpleQuE Consultant), Tom Schwarz (Global CFO), Gary Karnish (CEO), Chris Gross (Interim VP Operations), David Stanko (VP Technical Service/Quality Functions)

12 Years At The Toyota Opportunity Exchange

For the last 12 years simpleQuE has attended the Toyota Opportunity Exchange (TOE) to network with Tier I suppliers like Dana Incorporated. Dana has 100+ facilities and 29,000 employees in 34 countries making it one of the world’s most influential automotive suppliers. Through the TOE, a relationship was developed with Dana and in 2013 simpleQuE won the opportunity to perform ISO/TS 16949:2009 internal audits for the Dana site in Auburn Hills, MI. That opportunity has expanded to now include internal audits and/or IATF 16949:2016 transition consulting at five more Dana facilities in PA, IN, TN and KY. SimpleQuE consultants worked with the dedicated Quality team at Dana – Gordonsville, TN which recently successfully transitioned to IATF 16949. The first of our clients to do so!

Providing a forum for suppliers and minority business enterprises to connect is just one of the many ways that Toyota ensures its supplier base continues to reflect the diversity of its customers, partners and team members.

Who Says Quality Isn’t Fun?

VEGA Americas‘ management takes a creative and fun approach to preparing for an ISO audit of their Quality Management System.  They are a global manufacturer of level and pressure instrumentation for the process industry.  VEGA’s COO John Kronenberger plays the character ISONO, who isn’t sure what to do in some audit situations like this one where simpleQuE Consultant, Don Milinkovich plays the role of auditor while Quality Manager, Gretchen Lisi, looks on.  They give suggestions on their intranet on how to be an ISOPRO – a great way to communicate internally and create awareness* among their employees.  Way to go team VEGA!

*ISO9001:2015 Clause 7.3 Awareness
The organization shall ensure that persons doing work under the organization’s control are aware of:   a) the quality policy;   b) relevant quality objectives;  c) their contribution to the effectiveness of the QMS, including the benefits of improved performance;  d) the implications of not conforming with the QMS requirements.