Why Your System Integrator Should Embrace a Quality System
Quality is a top focus for industrial manufacturers, both small and large.
One of the best ways to ensure a quality-driven manufacturing process is to work with system integrator companies who have demonstrated their own commitment to quality through ISO-9001 certification and CSIA certification and an internal quality process.
Here’s how meeting the requirements of ISO-9001 certification for quality management impact an integrator’s approach to quality and why having a certified integrator can make a vital difference in a successful industrial automation engineering project.
ISO-9001: The Standard for Defining Quality
The world’s predominant standard for defining quality systems is ISO-9001. According to the ISO 2015 survey, a total of 1,519,952 certificates were issued worldwide in 2015.
Many system integrator companies like Matrix Technologies are ISO-9001 certified. A select group of top integrators, including Matrix, are also certified by the Control System Integrators Association (CSIA).
But a surprising number of integrators don’t have ISO-9001 or CSIA certification – and that could be important to manufacturers searching for industrial automation services.
Though ISO and CSIA standards don’t define a quality system, they provide a guideline for the quality process. Integrators who prove their understanding of this process through their own internal commitment to it are far more qualified to help manufacturers achieve quality in their operations.
The quality process drives consistency in project design, execution, and delivery. Having these processes in place ensures that the system integrator relies less on “superstar” project personnel and instead delivers quality results across all personnel and all projects. This provides an additional layer of security for the customer, as it minimizes the impact of unexpected project team changes.
What is a Quality Process for System Integrators?
The main elements of an ISO standard quality system are:
1. Quality Management System;
2. Management Responsibility;
3. Resource Management;
4. Product Realization;
5. Measurement, Analysis and Improvement.
Here’s how these elements apply to system integrator companies:
1. Quality Management System
The integrator must establish, document, implement and maintain a quality management system, and continually improve its effectiveness. The first step is to define all the processes that exist in the integrator’s business, how they interact, the resources needed to accomplish them, and how to monitor, measure, and analyze their effectiveness.
Ongoing focus on quality management is crucial. The integrator must constantly improve the quality management system to make it as useful as it can be.
2. Management Responsibility
In every business, management attention drives compliance with policy. The integrator’s management team must be fully committed to the requirements and success of the system and it must be ingrained in employees. This process starts with the quality policy that sets the goals of the quality system and provides the framework to review its effectiveness.
3. Resource Management
This requirement is about making sure the integrator has the resources available to provide the services defined in their quality system. However, there are other elements that may not be so obvious. The integrator also needs to ensure the training of its human resources on the technology required and the quality system itself. Resource management also defines the infrastructure requirements and the equipment needed by personnel.
4. Product Realization
This section is by far the most important piece of the ISO puzzle for integrators to understand and implement.
For most system integration companies like Matrix Technologies, our work product is the drawings, software, and services we provide throughout our projects. This section of the quality standard provides guidelines for how we “produce” projects. This is where we define the design process for our customers’ projects and identify the processes and documents we follow during the project.
Equally important is identifying the ways we verify, validate, monitor, inspect, and test these “products” while executing the process. ISO requires documentation that the integrator defined their process and validated that it was followed. There is no “right” or “wrong” way to do these steps; rather, it is important that procedures exist and are understood and followed throughout the organization.
5. Measurement, Analysis and Improvement
Once the integrator has established all policies and procedures, they must make sure policies and procedures are being followed and implemented in their organization. This section identifies the methods by which the integrator ensures this compliance. It also identifies how improvements are made to the system if deficiencies are found.
Bottom Line for Manufacturers: Look for a Quality Commitment
Each system integrator can decide for itself whether it’s important to obtain ISO or CSIA certification, but partnering with an integrator who has established a quality system can be a vital advantage for industrial manufacturers who want quality-focused operations.
Learn more about CSIA best practices.
Matrix Technologies is one of the largest independent process design, industrial automation engineering, and manufacturing operations management companies in North America. To learn more about our industrial automation and system integration services and solutions, contact Dave Blaida.
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