A Recipe for Quality
Tastes vary in quality process systems
By Michelle Garetson
Creating a quality process for the maintenance facility can be likened to preparing a food dish -- the better the recipe and ingredients, the better the result. Each process needs to suit the taste and requirements of the particular consumer and should offer flexibility to alter those ingredients as needed. Also, too much or too little of one element can ruin the end product.
There are many quality processes available to use as templates for developing the right procedures for any one facility. Research into those various offerings will help the company decide on the best model for their operations. No one process is better than the other, though some seem to be more popular and therefore may appear to be the standard to follow. With the increased emphasis on global markets, having a quality process in place may offer an advantage over competition. Additionally, reviewing present procedures and implementing a quality process will most certainly aid in the efficiency of the operations and enhance the safety environment in the shop.
What is ISO? The official title, when used in full, is International Organization for Standardization, with the short form, ISO. ISO is not an acronym, but a word, derived from the Greek isos, meaning "equal."
ISO's work results in international agreements, which are published as International Standards. ISO 9000 was introduced in 1987 by the International Organization for Standardization and is a group of standards representing an international consensus on good management practices. Within ISO 9000 are three quality assurance models 9001 (design and manufacture), 9002 (services), 9003 (inspection and testing); and a fourth model, ISO 9004, which offers guidelines for managing quality system elements. It includes subsets that address managing the quality of all types of service activities as well as managing the quality of all types of processed materials.
At this year's Heli-Expo, the Helicopter Association International's (HAI) annual convention, United Technologies Corp. (UTC) gave a seminar about their process for achieving ISO 9000 certification.
"It's a business system rather than a quality system," explained Steve Brechter, vice president and general manager of UTFlight, the executive transport unit of United Technologies. "A business is a group of processes and we used ISO 9002 (services model) as a template to help UTC better manage its processes. Better processes produce better service."
It should be noted that ISO 9000 certification is a lengthy, labor-intensive program that involves the whole organization, not just upper management. ISO 9000 requires the documentation of all procedures in place at the facility. It is also not over once certification is achieved. The program continues everyday and is periodically audited to ensure compliance with the standard. ISO 9000 is not a plaque on the wall to be dusted occasionally.
AS 9000 vs. ISO 9000
AS 9000, the Aerospace Basic Quality System Standard, was the result of two major events. The first being the cancellation of aerospace standards Mil-Q-9858A and Mil-I-45208A by the Department of Defense. About this same time, the international quality standard, ISO 9000 was gaining ground as an accepted commercial standard.
No longer under the thumb of the former established quality standards, large aerospace manufacturers began to demand and direct their suppliers to develop quality programs based on ISO 9000. The manufacturers soon found out that ISO 9000, in its simplicity, offered too much latitude and did not specifically address the unique requirements of the aerospace industry. A steering committee made up of Boeing, GE Aircraft Engines, Pratt & Whitney and others met to develop a standard, which in 1997, became AS 9000 that addressed the needs of aerospace, both major and minor manufacturers, suppliers, customers, and regulatory groups.