endusers audit of valve standards with manufacturers

Quality in action - Part 4

Barrie Kirkman - 7 April 2015

When end users audit a valve manufacturer they can see relatively quickly who is and who is not operating in a quality manner.

About the author

Mr Barrie Kirkman
Barrie Kirkman, BSc CEng MIMechE, writes a regular column for Valve World, bringing his own personal views from inside the valve business.

In the first three parts we have begun to understand a little on Understanding End User Approvals. We have discussed the variations in End User approvals explaining how no two audits are the same. In my last article we looked at End Users prioritization and the importance of first impressions and of safety. In this issue we will look further into a critical area of the valve manufacture, “quality in action”.

Quality – ISO 9001 moves on…..

Debates on quality have occurred as far back as I can remember (and that’s going back a long time!). The arrival in 1979 in the UK of BS 5750, a Management Systems Control Standard, began to address quality. This could be used by any manufacturer. A recognition kite was issued to successful manufacturers. In 1987 the arrival of ISO 9000 series of international standards and subsequent revision in 1994, 2000 and 2008 has resulted in globalization of quality. ISO 9001 is currently implemented by over one million companies and organizations in over 170 countries.

It has been recently announced that ISO 9001 will be revised further and issued in 2015. I suggest that every company, whether they be end user, contractor, distributor or valve manufacturer, should be aware of the upcoming improvements that will benefit the industry. Perhaps the first step is to get in touch with your contacts or interrogate the internet to see what’s being discussed?

Quality – the basics

End users want to use ISO 9001 Certification as a good basis to accept any valve manufacturer. All request copies of such certification. To some this is sufficient to qualify valve manufacturers whilst others view the certificates with skepticism. The latter want to see quality in action. Unfortunately experience has shown that, though the valve manufacturer may well indeed hold an ISO 9001 certificate, the emphasis within the organization is “paperwork” and “the ticking of boxes”. The reflection of quality processes within the workforce in production is indeed limited.

This I have witnessed on many occasions during my visits to valve manufacturers that have prepared for an end user audit. Throughout the company “paper procedures are displayed throughout the organization”. You can see the paper blowing in the breeze held down by a clip board. They are crisp and clean with no dirty finger marks. They have never been read. When you question the operators they have no knowledge of such procedures and, in some instances, have not been trained. They are normally in English and guess what; the work force cannot read English? (Please note this observation is global). There are also “check charts”, say, for machinery maintenance at the work locations which are no longer filled in once the end user audit has been completed. I also see similar examples in foundries.

So who is to blame, the valve manufacturer for not complying? Or could it be something to do with the image they have of auditors requiring paper for compliance? Or is it the belief that ISO demands such requirements? Perhaps the reason lies between all three? This “culture” DEFINITELY needs urgent attention!

Quality – in action

When you audit a valve manufacturer you can see relatively quickly who is and who is not operating in a quality manner. The skill is to establish to what extent they are not. Does such lack of quality control put the valve product at risk? If so, how much? Some end users do quantify this risk by a scoring system and set pass / fail levels. So what has to be improved?

As mentioned in part 3’s article document review commences, The Quality Manual and its associated quality documents are discussed.

So where do we start? What is the valve manufacturer’s mission statement? Is the statement “real” and linked (via an audit trail into the whole organisation) to the quality objectives and deliverables? Or is the statement “hollow” with no linkage to any quality objective and deliverable?

In some audits the mission statements are missing, out of date, not relevant or they have not been signed by the valve manufacturer’s Chief Executive or similar. Dare I say that some Chief Executives show no real commitment or interest?

During the walk about always ask the workers whether they know what the mission statement is? Often it’s displayed in the offices and workshop….but is not read. When I move around the company from department to department phone calls are made ahead of my arrival. Recently when I stopped at an engineers work station I saw he had up on his computer screen the mission statement!

Looks like I have run out of space….quality in action will continue in 2014.

Barrie Kirkman, BSc CEng MIMechE, writes a regular column for Valve World, bringing his own personal views from inside the valve business.

Barrie can be reached on: barriekirkman@ntlworld.com.

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