The need for integrated management systems

When the 2015 versions of ISO9001 and 14001 were published the framework used for all new versions of ISO standards was unified. This meant that an integrated management system covering both ISO9001 and ISO14001 (including the more recently issued ISO45001) could be implemented for both those companies going for initial certification and also companies already certified to both these standards.

Companies that have certification to ISO9001 should be considering adding certification to ISO14001 because by achieving certification to this Environmental Management standard they will be able to demonstrate to their existing and potential future customers that the company is committed to reducing the company’s impact on climate change and also to sustainability.

The need for integrated management systems

When the 2015 versions of ISO9001 and 14001 were published the framework used for all new versions of ISO standards was unified. This meant that an integrated management system covering both ISO9001 and ISO14001 (including the more recently issued ISO45001) could be implemented for both those companies going for initial certification and also companies already certified to both these standards.

Companies that have certification to ISO9001 should be considering adding certification to ISO14001 because by achieving certification to this Environmental Management standard they will be able to demonstrate to their existing and potential future customers that the company is committed to reducing the company’s impact on climate change and also to sustainability.

The need for integrated management systems

When the 2015 versions of ISO9001 and 14001 were published the framework used for all new versions of ISO standards was unified. This meant that an integrated management system covering both ISO9001 and ISO14001 (including the more recently issued ISO45001) could be implemented for both those companies going for initial certification and also companies already certified to both these standards.

Companies that have certification to ISO9001 should be considering adding certification to ISO14001 because by achieving certification to this Environmental Management standard they will be able to demonstrate to their existing and potential future customers that the company is committed to reducing the company’s impact on climate change and also to sustainability.

Hydrogen powered vehicles versus electric powered vehicles

The drive to replace all fossil fuelled vehicles with electric power drive systems is hiding a number of issues that will need to be resolved.

First is the supply of rechargeable batteries and the supply of of Lithium and Cobalt to manufacture them. As these batteries are likely to gradually reduce their power storage capacity over a time period of not more than 5 years what will be the costs of recycling the scrap batteries?

Second the very high concentration of demand for electricity as people recharge their batteries when they return from work. In addition there will be safety risks resulting from cables connecting cars to home charging points. This will be a much greater risk on dark nights in the winter.

Hydrogen as a fuel for powering vehicles will be possible with modifications to the engine similar to those done to enable vehicles to run on LPG. Whist there are 2 main production routes for Hydrogen the process using electrolysis is more climate friendly; particularly if the manufacturing process used can be switched to using excess solar and wind power when not needed for the national grid. Whilst most of current hydrogen production is derived from fossil fuels and hence generates waste gases there is a move towards using electrolysis as more emphasis is placed on reducing climate impact.

Another area where hydrogen could benefit is its use for domestic heating boilers which can be modified to run on hydrogen. This will be beneficial for heating properties where it will not be possible to install ground or air sourced heat pumps.

The provision of Hydrogen filling stations for vehicles is in its infancy; however a UK company has plans to speed up the provision of these stations. Hence from a convenience point of view hydrogen powered vehicles could be a better option than electric.

Approved Suppliers

I am often asked by my clients why they need to have a register of approved suppliers. It is important to remember that ISO9001 applies to all sizes of business from the 1 man operations, SMEs and larger companies

Whilst it may not be relevant for small companies in which only one person is responsible for Purchasing, these companies are aiming to grow the business and in doing so the number of employees grows also. Hence it is very important that from the outset a register of approved suppliers is created and that there is a formal process in place for approving additional suppliers before they are added to the register.. All personnel in the business, who are involved in sourcing products, materials and services for the company, should fully understand that only those companies on the approved register should be sourced from.

There are 2 exceptions to this. The first is where a customer specifies the supplier to be used for their product(s) and the second is where a new supplier is on trial. .In the latter case the trial must be properly monitored and evaluated before adding the supplier to the register when the trial has been concluded successfully..

Understanding net zero carbon

The targets set by the PM to have net zero carbon by various dates in the not too distant future are all very newsworthy but do the MPs really understand the concept. These targets may sound realistic but if the implications and costs of the actions that will have to be taken to get even close to the target were clearly identified to and understood by the general public then the vast majority would be horrified.

The vast sums of money which have been borrowed during the pandemic could well be exceeded in financing the infrastructure enhancements needed to achieve net zero carbon. The switch to green energy sources for power production for electric powered vehicles and manufacturing processes will have to be streamlined.

Also the supply of metals such as lithium and cobalt are not immediately available in the quantities that will be required for the solid state batteries that power electric vehicles. Currently a major % of these metals originates from China so there is an immediate need to expand the output of these metals in parts of the world where China has less influence. As typically it can take more than 5 years to from identifying a potential mining source to achieving significant output from a mine there is a significant threat to battery supply.

The development of Hydrogen as a fuel for vehicles and heating as well as a fuel for Power Stations is an option which should be seen as a viable addition to the available options for working towards net zero carbon especially as there are no nasty emissions resulting from its use as a fuel (only water vapour).

Assessing strategic and process risks

As part of the requirements for ISO9001 2015, Section 6 is entitled Planning and Section 6.1 is entitled “Actions to address risks and opportunities”.

There are two areas of risk; firstly strategic risks and secondly process risks. Companies have to identify the different types of risks that fall into these categories and assess both the likelyhood that an identified risk will happen and the impact of the risk. One effective way of doing this is to rate the likely occurrence and the impact on a scale of 1to10 where 1 is very low and 10 is very high. For each of the risks i suggest that the 2 numbers are multiplied together and for those with the highest results the company should have in place an action plan including timescale to reduce the likelyhood and/or impact of the risk.. These risk assessments should be documented together agreed action plans

a regular review of progress on these action plans plus ongoing review of all the risks identified should be carried out and In addition a review of whether any new strategic and process risks have been identified…

Dealing with Customer Complaints

It is not only important that companies handle customer complaints professionally but they identify the root cause(s) of complaints and that taking action to eliminate the cause(s) does reduce the adverse costs of complaints to the business and improves customer satisfaction and trust.

In ISO9001 2015 section 10.2 there are clearly described procedures for dealing with customer complaints. these involve ;1)recording individual details for every complaint; 2) reacting to and investigating the complaint; 3) identifying the root cause(s) of the complaint;4) taking action to eliminate the root cause(s) and checking that no other products or services are also affected and 5) notifying the customer that the problem has been dealt with and suitable recompense has been given to the customer.

When I first start working with customers to get them ready for ISO9001 2015 certification it is not unusual for me to get an initial response of ” we don’t have customer complaints” or alternatively to find that the customer has no formal method for recording and investigating complaints. They either see customer complaints as a black mark against the business or more often they don’t see the benefits to the business of the time spent dealing with and resolving complaints.. The classic response to a complaint is to offer a replacement product or service.

One client I work with was recording complaints in a log book but had not made any attempt to either categorise the complaints or investigate them. As the complaints were typically 300-400 a month which was leading to an extra 25% load for remakes on production the client didn’t feel able to allocate non-productive resources to resolving the complaints. Following my involvement the client was able to identify and categorise the complaints. This enabled the client to identify 3 main categories of complaint. These were 1) incorrect product supplied; 2) transport damage and 3) incorrect quantities supplied. Each of these areas of complaint were then dealt with. For 1) extra training of the sales admin staff resulted in a dramatic reduction in this type of complaint. for 2) the poorest transport company was identified and a new transport company approved for delivering their products. In addition the packaging of the products most frequently damaged in transit was substantially upgraded and for 3) batches of product were photographed and details of the traceability information filed with photographs. This type of complaint is now no longer a serious problem. in the last 5 years total business turnover is up by 150% and typically the number of monthly complaints has fallen by 90%.

The pressure on production control to reschedule items which needed to replace the complaint products has significantly reduced and the cost savings resulting from the right quantity of product being delivered to customers undamaged at the agreed time have had a marked improvement on the companies profit margins. The benefits of identifying the root cause(s) of complaints and being able to tell the customer that these have been dealt with to close out complaints has resulted in far higher levels of customer satisfaction and trust.

an area where it is unusual for complaints as such to be recognised is web design and software development. In these businesses customers will ask the supplier to modify existing features or provide additional features. For these types of businesses it is very important that detailed records of requests and modifications made are retained.

The benefits to a business of putting in place the processes and systems to meet the requirements of ISO9001 2015 are substantial and once companies have achieved certification to the standard they realise the cost savings far outweigh the initial and ongoing costs of certification. How companies handle complaints is just one section of the standard. overall customer focus, employee knowledge and competence, leadership and planning are some of the other areas covered by the standard

Understanding ISO9001 and ISO14001

these 2 management standards are international recognised standards which are designated EuroNorm standards in Europe. Because they are international standards there have been no changes resulting from the completion of Brexit. The current versions of these Standards were launched in 2015.

ISO9001 2015 is a Quality and Business management standards which is used to check that companies have processes in place which ensure the company is in control in a range of different areas of the business. Whist it is designed to assure customers that the supplier has in place control processes that ensure the correct product/service is supplied at the agreed time it also covers a number of other aspects of the business including; risks to and opportunities for the business as well as quality and business improvement targets.

ISO14001 2015 differs from ISO9001 principally as regards the processes and actions the business has in place to reduce its impact on the environment, Hence for those areas where it has significant impacts it has to have set targets for reducing these impacts which are measurable, meaningful and can be achieved. In order to do this it must have formulated and implemented a plan towork towards and monitor progress on these targets.

Any company with targets to grow the business will see considerable benefits for the business when they achieve certification to these 2 ISO Standards

Climate Change; how companies can help

The evidence that the changes in climate are having a detrimental impact on the natural world is becoming increasingly clear so how can companies reduce their environmental impact?

Firstly their use of natural resources such as raw materials, energy and water.. In the case of raw materials companies need to focus on getting things right first time which will reduce scrap levels. They should consider whether any scrap materials and/or products can be reused in production or sold as a lower quality product, Energy use can be more efficient by making use of waste heat as a low grade heating source; also reducing heat loss from buildings by improving wall and roof insulation as well as upgrading glazing of windows and doors. Water usage can be reduced by provision of storage tanks for filtering and recycling waste water. this can also include collection and storage of rainwater.

Secondly Packaging waste. the emphasis should be to switch to biodegradable or recyclable plastics to replace plastic packaging currently sent to landfill. Here it is vital that this recyclable plastic is clearly identified by type of plastic to enable recycling companies to sort the plastics for reuse. For other types of packaging such as cardboard it is important that the box size and type of cardboard used provides sufficient protection for the product but also does not result in a lot of wasted space in the box.

Visits to customers need to be planned to minimise fuel usage and wherever possible using onlinre meetings to supplement the customer visits. Redundant IT equipment can very often be refurbished/repaired for use in less critical applications in other businesses or put to supprting school education