Enterprise Minnesota Magazine - January 2013
HELPING MANUFACTURERS GROW PROFITABLY
Just months into the certification process, ISO streamlines communication channels and transforms company culture at Innova Industries.
As a "one-stop" manufacturing center, Innova Industries manufactures thousands of different products, including this construction vehicle door assembly being formed by ISO Facilitator Michele King
Innova Industries is still months away from achieving ISO 9001 certification, but Innova ISO Facilitato Michele King says the company is already seeing benefits.
“ISO is helping us decipher and eliminate tribal knowledge within the company so that all employees can be on the same page at any given moment, with established and standardized processes,” King says.
Dick Young and his son Jeff Young founded Innova Industries as a custom laser cutting business in 1997. One employee, one customer and one capability at a time, the Fergus Fallsbased company has since grown to employ 60 people and has established itself as a “one-stop manufacturing center” with laser cutting, welding, fabrication, finishing, assembly and shipping services. Its customers span a variety of industries, including wind generation, agriculture, mining, construction equipment and floor cleaning equipment.
As the business expanded, its communication methods remained relatively informal, with minimal process documentation and critical information often passing between departments through word of mouth. Like an ever-growing game of telephone, that person-to-person communication left increasing room for error and process variations as more employees came on board.
Innova began pursuing ISO 9001 certification in September 2012 when some of its key customers began considering it as a supplier requirement. The certification is part of the ISO 9000 family of international quality management standards, published by the International Organization for Standardization in 1987. Today, they are recognized as the most widely known standards in the world.
ISO asks that manufacturers examine each of their existing processes under a microscope, revise them to meet ISO requirements and keep on hand an official, documented procedure for every activity they believe would benefit from one. The documents standardize each process and also help customers to understand the intricacies of a manufacturer’s production process, including how the manufacturer ensures product quality.
King says establishing standardized processes is a challenging but rewarding pursuit that has brought continuous improvement to the forefront of Innova activities.
“ISO addresses a wide range of processes, from training of both new and current employees through the end result: the products that we produce. Being able to look at what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and [potentially] step back and say, ‘this isn’t working,’ is very valuable,” King says. “It’s becoming a really big part of our company’s culture. It’s not just about getting the certificate. It’s a method for continuous improvement and running the business.”
President Dick Young agrees, adding that ISO’s standardized process requirements will eliminate the “guesswork of company procedures,” keeping everyone on the same page in day-to-day operations, ultimately resulting in greater efficiency. Upon certification, the company will be able to attract customers that require ISO-certified suppliers, including many in international markets.
For other companies considering ISO, King has one word of advice: customize.
“You have to take ISO and use the parameters, but also make it your own so that it will directly improve upon your company’s processes,” she says.
For more about Innova Industries, visit www.innovaind.com
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