Valve manufacturers’ compliance with ISO 9001

A major issue preventing approval - Part 8

Barrie Kirkman - 9 July 2015

Valve manufacturers’ compliance with ISO 9001

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 recent articles we have been discussing various aspects of end users’ approval techniques covering Design & Valve manufacturer’s approved sub-supplier list etc. Guidelines have been suggested regarding good practices and of expectations that end users seek. However I have to take time out in this issue to tackle a fundamental issue that affects these areas and others that prevent approval. Valve manufacturers’ compliance with ISO 9001.

I observe on many occasions “ISO 9001 Certificates” proudly being displayed in valve manufacturers’ meeting rooms, building entrances and catalogues. The intent is that such certification acknowledges that the valve manufacturer has demonstrated through an ISO audit and evaluation of their processes to have fully met the requirements of ISO 9001.

Compliance Observation 1
Compliance Observation 2
Observation 1
Indeed for many valve manufacturers this is indeed true; they do strictly follow ISO 9001 processes throughout their organization to all aspects of the manufacturing processes. It is a delight to witness such a company in operation. End user audits of these companies tend to be relatively short and the success rate of obtaining end user approvals is high. When ISO 9001 works, it works really well and end users have confidence in such a system. It is also really impressive when visiting a global supplier with several valve manufacturing plants that operate consistently with regards to ISO 9001 with no geographical quality variations. Please keep this up as such a performance, I am sure, is being rewarded in the market. It is a definite market differential worth keeping!

Observation 2
I have, over the years, tried to understand why during my audits do I observe valve manufacturers, foundries, forge masters etc. that are clearly not complying with ISO 9001? Why are such companies allowed to continue to practice this way? It is this later group that tarnishes the industry and the first good group described in observation 1 are frustrated that the later group are allowed to continue in this way. Is it time that this situation changes?

Observation 3
There are valve manufacturers that have obtained ISO 9001 which do not actively comply with ISO 9001. This applies to China, USA, Europe and Asia etc. Manufacturer continues unabated.

Observation 4
ISO delegate locally the approval process. Having audited some of the worst companies I have ever seen I have been devastated to learn that personnel within that company are ISO auditors that award ISO Certification. I have ended up teaching the “auditors” about expectations for compliance of procedures and practices.

Observation 5
ISO 9001 approved companies do not appear to have any “policing of non-compliances” and such obvious bad practices continue unabated with no consequences. Short cuts with processes are accepted and tolerated.

Observation 6
Stereotypes of quality manuals are seen that have specifically been written to meet ISO 9001. The diagrams are really good and the processes are perfect with reference to the valve manufacturing. However in reality the actual working processes are totally different.

Observation 7
Limited ISO 9001 front end implementation attempts to convince auditors that the displaying of written processes around the manufacturing plant shows compliance. The giveaway is that they have only recently been displayed as the paper is clean and also it is not written in the local language so the workers do not have a clue what they need to comply with.

Observation 8
Valve manufactures have advised me that they have just been re-certified. The auditors however advised that they noted shop practices were not in compliance. No recommendations were given and the manufacturer continues unchanged…..

Observation 9
ISO 9001 is obtained by valve manufacturers purely for sales and the international market.

Compliance Graph


The above status quo is well known within the end user community and each end user sometimes attempts to compensate for this. They impose additional controls and requirements to achieve an acceptable quality performance level. On other occasions where the end user considers the valve company’s operation is just not good enough for quality assurance reasons they will not give approval. Perhaps the “quality level bar” as described above is correct. Perhaps I have totally misunderstood the intent of ISO 9001? I apologize if I have……

Compliance Questions


Question 1: Can a new “independent audit body be formed that operates globally that can ensure a consistent quality bar of compliance is achieved wherever the manufacturing plant is operating?”

Question 2: Is it time for “surprise audits” to check ISO compliance? Can ISO 9001 Certification be revoked before the expiry date? Has this ever been done?

Question 3: Does anyone agree with my findings? Please let me know…….


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? Let’s hope the changes will improve the image and deliverability of ISO 9001?

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

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