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ISO 9001 Certification: What to Expect

| Electronics Manufacturing

Efficiency. Consistency. Quality Control. An ISO 9001 certification is like a beacon indicating that a company — or manufacturer, in our case — offers these three things. And while we’ve explored the benefits of working with an ISO 9001 certified manufacturer before, we wanted to shed some light on the process from another angle: the business’ side of things.

As a small, family-owned company, we understand how valuable your business’ resources are — and how important it is to prioritize where you invest them. We believe an ISO 9001 certification is one of the things that brings a lot of value. So, to share a few insights into the things we’ve learned along the way, we’ve outlined what you can expect as you go through the ISO certification process.

What is an ISO 9001 Certification? (And Why is it so Important, Anyway?)

At its most fundamental level, an ISO 9001 certification indicates that a company has consistent quality management system (QMS) in place. It is one of five quality management system standards issued by the International Organization for Standardization and it helps ensure a consistent level of quality for processes for companies across industries.

For manufacturers, a 9001 certification is highly valuable as consistency between production runs and accuracy are top concerns. It not only indicates that your manufacturing workflows are streamlined and well documented, but it also offers your customers a wide range of benefits from quality control and traceability to long-term cost savings. It shows your customers that you put them first.

More About ISO

The International Organization for Standardization is an independent, non-governmental organization that is recognized as the gold standard in quality standardization processes around the world. Launched in 1947 with 67 technical groups, ISO brought together technical experts from more than 20 countries with the passion for the future of standardization practices. It continues to set the bar for global standardization practices. Learn more about the organization’s history and mission.

How Does a Company Get Certified?

Okay, so now you know why it’s so important. But how does a company go about getting certified? To qualify, a company must be audited by an external certification body to determine whether their internal workflows, manufacturing process and QMS meet the ISO requirements for the 9000 family of standards. As an international organization, there are auditors around the world, so you can find one locally to begin the certification review process.

What Happens During an ISO Certification?

While it varies from between industries and from company to company, there are a few things that apply across industries. As an electronics contract manufacturer, we’ll walk you through a high-level overview of the process for a manufacturer like us. The auditor’s goal is to determine whether you have an efficient and high-quality QMS. You can direct them to look at specific processes or workflows within your organization, but ultimately, it’s up to their discretion what they’d like to focus on. This can range from interviewing employees to make sure they understand the full process to reviewing production on the floor in real time. They may also call special attention to a combination of training, document control and regulatory requirements. For example, an electronics contract manufacturer may be asked to produce training records for electrostatic discharge (ESD) or sautering.

What Happens After an ISO Certification?

What happens after you get your ISO certification? You celebrate, and then you immediately get to work running your processes and procedures in your everyday work while you look for ways to make the system better. Constant improvement is a hallmark of a properly implemented QMS. Nothing is more important than “walking the walk.” It’s important to note that ISO certifications are not one-and-done certifications. They need to be renewed every couple of years to ensure your QMS is still delivering consistently high-quality products.

What if You Can’t Get Certified?

ISO certifications are exacting — and expensive. Many start-ups, non-profits and smaller companies find the roadblocks to certification too steep to overcome. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t benefit from streamlining your processes and working with ISO certified third-party manufacturers. Outsourcing work to or partnering with a certified manufacturer helps ensure your products are high quality so that you can, in turn, offer your customers reliable, scalable products.  

In conclusion, an ISO 9001 certification is a clear sign that a company has a streamlined, highly functional QMS. They are more likely to offer high quality, reliable, well-documented and consistent products. If you have questions about the process, benefits or would like to partner with a certified manufacturer, please reach out. Our team is here to help.