There is hardly any other sector of industry where QM systems that accord with DIN EN ISO 9001 are more uncommon than in the non-metallic minerals industry. In contrast, QM systems in, for instance, the automobile industry are the very basic of quality assurance, and the industry can no longer be imagined without them. In the machine-building and electrical industries QM systems are also now taken for granted, and they are being introduced increasingly even into nursing homes, kindergarten and medical practices.
The common prejudices and reservations can easily be refuted:
Many companies are worried about survival. They work to take every option to reduce cost, and fear the additional expense of introducing, applying and certifying a QM system in accordance with DIN EN ISO 9001. The introduction and certification of QM system involves, on the other hand, external costs (for certification of the QM system by an independent institute). These financial burdens are, however, substantially canceled out by the advantages.
Very few large customers, with the possible exception of the railway, look for a QM system in accordance with DIN EN ISO 9001 when granting contracts. Contracts are normally granted to the cheapest supplier and it is expected, regardless of the price, that the quality requirements of the product or service are fulfilled.
The opinion is widely held that the quality assurance system practiced until now in Germany already satisfies the requirements of DIN EN ISO 9001. The fact is, however, that DIN EN ISO 9001 does much more than merely provide an assurance of product quality. It brings, for instance, lower production costs, significantly increased credit-worthiness at banks, a much better position in the event of a liability dispute, markedly increased confidence on the part of customers and a noticeable improvement in employees‘ motivation. We will consider these added values in more detail below.
Lowering Production Costs
When a QM system is being put into practice, the company is forced to take preventive measures so that faults do not occur in the first place. Consideration here should not be restricted to the (not insignificant) costs of rework, complaints, or the expensive consequences of productive machinery and plant whose preventive maintenance is not carried out. As an example, a medium-sized concrete works in Bavaria that introduced a QM system in accordance with DIN EN ISO 9001 found that the proportion of seconds and reject products in their paving stone production fell by 43%, whilst at the same time as improvement in the preventive maintenance given to production machines generated a productivity rise of 10%. Another company working in secondary work was able to lower its total costs by 5% following the introduction of a QM system in accordance with DIN EN ISO 9001. Through applying a QM system, any company can automatically detect and correct inefficient procedures within its production processes and at the interfaces.
Banks grant credit to companies in accordance with the Basel II guidelines. According to these guidelines, the introduction of a QM system is a positive factor in the granting of credit, meaning that credit is easier to obtain.
Strengthening The Position in The Event Of a Liability Dispute
If, however, at some time there is a question of liability arising from faulty products, the new liability laws mean that with a QM system in place it is easier to make the case that the company had taken all possible preventive action to avoid product faults.
Strengthening Customers‘ Trust
Every company tries to develop and maintain strong and lasting customer relation royalty. Because, in addition to the price of the product or service, quality plays a significant role, it is all the more important to give customers the confidence that a company will be able to satisfy quality requirements. A QM system in accordance with DIN EN ISO 9001 can fundamentally reinforce customers‘ confidence. The obligation to constant improvement is, for instance, one requirement of DIN EN ISO 9001.
Strengthening Employees‘ Motivation
Production workers often have the feeling that their superiors look on their work as being not particularly important. This, in turn, has a negative effect on employee motivation. A QM system helps to make internal production process more transparent, and to define the scope of individual responsibilities more clearly. This creates sustained reinforcement for employees‘ motivation and sense of responsibility for their work.
The new European procedure for conformity demonstration requires the manufacturers of building materials to describe their factory production checks in a manual. This requires tasks that are also specified in DIN EN ISO 9001 to be carried out. In other words, a certified QM system already satisfies the requirements of the Europeans product standards. It is also possible for certification institutes for QM systems with state approval as test, monitoring and certification bodies to combine on-site auditing with government monitoring, and to pass the resulting cost advantage on to their customers.
The benefits described here of course only accrue when the QM system in accordance with DIN EN ISO 9001 is properly implemented throughout the company. A working QM system is a powerful tool, contributing significantly to a company success. Any company that is not afraid of comparison with the best in the sector will in the long term not get far without implementing a QM system that accords with DIN EN ISO 9001.
Finally, it can be said that QM system according with DIN EN ISO 9001 gives a boost to the development of any company – including those of the non-metallic minerals industry!