Quality Management

Quality Management Systems for Woodworking Companies

Quality management systems covers the procedures which are put in place to allow a manufacturer to maintain consistency in quality and to keep records of non-conforming products, processes or materials, in order to make improvements.

These systems are essential in the running of any manufacturing business, whether developed as a matter of experience or by following a set of formal principles. Having a written factory production control (FPC) system is an example of a quality management system. All manufacturers of construction products which are covered by European standards (such as windows and external doorsets) are legally required to have a written FPC system in place by 2013 as this is a mandatory part of CE marking. To make sure that complying with this part of the regulations doesn’t become a complicated and bureaucratic process, we’ve made our Factory Production Control manual and guidance exclusively free to BWF members.

A written FPC system can also be a stepping stone towards adopting certificated quality management systems such as ISO 9001 which can give access to a wider range of buyers, improve the way you run your business, and fulfil the some of the requirements of schemes such as the BWF-Certifire Fire Door and Doorset Scheme.

ISO 9001 is a standard that identifies the requirements for an organisation’s quality management system. It is by far the world’s most established quality framework, currently being used by 1,064,000 organisations in 178 countries worldwide, and it provides a tried and tested framework for managing an organisation's processes.

The benefits of adopting ISO9001 can include increasing market share, driving down costs, managing risk more effectively or improving customer satisfaction. To meet the requirements of ISO 9001:2008 (which is the latest version of the standard), manufacturers must:

• Identify the steps in their business processes.
• Describe how these processes link together to satisfy customer expectations.
• Ensure sufficient resources are available to maintain the system.
• Monitor how well the processes are working in order to help to identify future improvements.

This would mean showing how orders are dealt with from initial enquiry, through the stages of manufacture, to delivery. For a joinery manufacturer, the standard will cover a wide range of obligations, all of which would have to be documented. A small selection of these obligations could include:

• Control of measuring equipment
• Recordings of non conforming products
• Ensuring that staff are aware of the product requirements
• Reviewing each supplier’s performance
• Properly maintaining key production machines, such as the CNC Router, moulder, cross-cut, or band-saw, to ensure accuracy of operation.

Certification

The standard requires the company itself to audit its ISO 9001:2008-based quality system to check that it is fully in control of its activities. However, many companies engage the services of an independent certification body to obtain an ISO 9001:2008 certificate of conformity, thus adding to the credibility of their claims.

The certification of a company’s quality management system can give access to a wider range of buyers, particularly those organisations spending public money, such as local authorities, government agencies, schools, hospitals. It is also a requirement of the BWF-CERTIFIRE Fire Door & Doorset Scheme, and is favoured by many of the larger construction companies.

Many of these organisations will insist on the use of a UKAS accredited certification body. UKAS is the sole national accreditation body recognised by Government to assess organisations that provide certification, testing, inspection and calibration services to internationally agreed standards.

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