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Better than ISO 9002 Certified

When we bought this company in 1991, it was nearly bankrupt, partially due to inadequate QC. The biggest problem was belts breaking at the weld joint. We quickly developed a superior welding process and installed a QC system wherein employees inspect 102% of the joints (2% are inspected twice on a SPC basis). Since then, we have not had any significant problems with breaking welds or other QC issues. In fact, our belts are consistently of such high quality that in 1994 we initiated the “Worlds Longest Belt Warranty”. Our strong warranty exerts continual pressure on us to maintain our high quality. To date our cumulative warrantee expense is virtually zero. Therefore, we believe our current QC system is more than adequate.

Over the years we have spent much time evaluating ISO-9000 and ISO-9001. Each time we concluded that ISO would be about as effective as our current system, but would entail much extra work, red tape, and expense. It would also divert resources from other projects that are much more crucial to the growth and success of our business. Moreover, it could even have a negative impact since employees might be reluctant to make needed changes because change requires rewriting documentation – a tedious task.

The "Problems" section at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_9000 states that ISO certification is no guarantee that a company's product or its quantity system is any good., and that "the added cost to certify and then maintain certification may not be justified if end users do not require ISO 9000. The cost can actually put a company at a competitive disadvantage when competing against a non ISO 9000 certified company."

Surely ISO can be beneficial to companies with complicated production processes, but for our company, which has a simple production process, we believe our system is better.

Three facts reinforce our opinion:

  1. ISO-9000 and its predecessors were touted as the ultimate quality control systems, yet they were superceded by ISO-9001, 9002, etc. This raises questions: If the old versions were so good, why were they replaced? When will the current version be replaced? How many of the required documents will be discarded in then next version?
  2. We have come across many ISO certified vendors whose quality is worse than their non-certified counterparts. This confirms to us that ISO certification is no guarantee of quality.
  3. Despite enormous pressure from auto companies, for many years Michelin Tire Company refused to implement ISO. Their chief executive said that he did not want his employees wasting time documenting everything. They eventually became certified in order to comply with requirements set by "national authorities which deliver approval of tyres". We believe Michelin has always made the best tires. If they could succeed without ISO, so can we.

Nevertheless, we stand ready to implement ISO if it is ever mandated by any of our major customers. To date, none have required us to change our QC system. We presume this is because our system has always responded to their needs, but maybe it also involves a realization that the extra costs of ISO might force us to increase prices.


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