Alphabet Soup Meets Quality Standards
You know who loves alphabet soup more than kids in a soup commercial? People in an office. There’s always a way to turn a best practice into an acronym. You’ve probably shaken your head at some doozies and they just keep coming. We try to avoid random ABCs here at Laddawn. But we have to confess, there’s one acronym we really get behind: ISO 9001.
ISO stands for International Standards Organization. ISO 9001 is its flagship quality management systems standard. It provides tools to streamline processes, increase efficiencies and help companies provide consistent quality.
ISO 9001 is our measuring stick for quality management and we never leave home without it. It has been our quality system for over 20 years. We’re all about ISO. Everyone at Laddawn is held accountable to its core principles, whether they’re top management, customer facing staff, or folks in manufacturing or warehousing in any of our five manufacturing facilities.
In June, we completed the transition from ISO 9001:2008 to version 2015. The new standard has a number of improved takes on process, terminology and information. Most importantly though, it demands something called Risk-Based Thinking. Now, rather than waiting for a problem to fix and learn from, risk assessments provide opportunities to improve processes before problems occur. Powerful, right? The new standard is more forward thinking and, well, we’re pretty pumped about what it means for our customers.
Staying Ahead of the Curve
We’re determined to provide each of our distributors with products and service that meet or exceed expectations. Our ISO systems are the engines powering that promise. And, since it’s an international standard complete with independent third party audits, you don’t have to take our word for it. You get objective evidence that we’re ahead of the curve.
Updating a quality management system to comply with a new ISO revision can take up to three years. We managed to complete the process in just two. And those third party auditors? They now use Laddawn as a best practice example for other organizations.
“It confirms that we’re in a good place,” says Julie Flagg, Laddawn’s ISO Management Rep. Of course, everyone at Laddawn – whether a VP or a new teammate on the manufacturing floor – has to follow ISO principles for the system to work. “No matter how much we do, we’re sunk if people don’t follow it,” she says. “It’s really a team effort.”
Find It, Fix It, Fast
ISO is kind of like the drill sergeant who goes looking for things out of place. We constantly track and gather data to make sure that processes are followed and updated when necessary. With ISO, the process ensures errors are identified and corrected—once and for all.
The quest for quality is never ending. After all, things can always be improved. “I will tell you that the more gaps we identify, the better we become”, says Meredith Dennison, Laddawn’s ISO administrator. “After all, that’s what working a sound quality management system is all about—bettering ourselves. And when something does go wrong, we have a quick, thorough system in place to respond and prevent the issue from recurring.”
Here’s a great example. So, Meredith and her team gather data and look for trends. Earlier this year, she noted an uptick in the number of smaller LTL orders damaged in transit. Meredith and her team tracked the shipments to a new carrier service we’d brought in. “This service was offered by a well-known, trusted, nationwide carrier that we were already using with great success. It also offered financial savings. Sounds great, right?”, Meredith says.
Once alerted to the increase in damage, the VP of Operations and Laddawn’s IT staff teamed up to get all the data and to perform a risk analysis. Sure enough, there was something there. Within just a two-week period, auditors were able to advise the team. Laddawn stopped using that carrier’s new service.
Meredith calls the carrier service resolution a “perfect example” of how ISO serves Laddawn. “For companies without ISO processes and procedures in place, shipping snafus like this would grow”, she notes.
Perhaps the best part of ISO is that, “consistent quality gives us the freedom to focus on enhancing other aspects of the biz, like customer experience, a great website, a broader product line and customer outreach,” Meredith says. So, a tip of the hat to Meredith, Julie, and the ISO auditing teams in all five of Laddawn’s facilities for bringing ISO 9001:2015 on board at a record pace.
And now, it’s time for lunch. How about some alphabet soup?
To learn more about ISO and its new 2015 standard, click here.