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20 January 2015

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Case Study: AR Valve Resources

ISO 9001

AR Valve Resources represent a number of leading International Valve and Control manufactures here in the UK, additionally supplying complete valve packages to a wide range of industries from the oil and gas sectors, to the mining industry, water utility companies, and a range of other general process companies. With ISO 9001 well known and often required by their clients, AR Valve Resources first sought certification to the standard in 2010, successfully maintaining it since.

Why ISO certification?

As suppliers of engineered products to sophisticated clients involved in critical applications, AR Valve Resources chose ISO 9001 to demonstrate that they deliver consistent high levels of service. Being involved with such important clients meant gaining certification in the end was inevitable, as ISO 9001 was deemed by so many existing and potential clients as a requirement to be part of their supply chains. In fact, now the company makes the same checks with its own suppliers. Managing Director Paul Redfearn expanded, saying;

“ISO certification significantly contributes to our ability to offer consistent high levels of service. Many of our customers understandably expect us to have ISO certification and demand that we can demonstrate our commitment to quality before we can become an acceptable supplier.”

Paul, keen to maximize the benefit from achieving certification, wanted to be hands on with ISO 9001. He worked jointly with the company’s Quality Manager throughout the process to ensure successful implementation. The organisation has shown that engagement of the whole workforce ensures best results. Paul commented;

“We jointly reviewed all processes of our company and worked with all staff to ensure every aspect of our operation was documented and procedures were in place to manage our business in the best interests of all involved parties.”

Why BAB?

BAB has over 40 years experience in the assessment industry, with their reputation established in 1969 as a specialist in certification scheme management. Over the last three years, BAB has been able to boast an average 99% client recommendation rating and are customer service award winners. AR Valve Resources experienced BAB’s philosophy themselves, with Paul commenting;

“We chose BAB after discussion with a number of other assessment companies on the basis that BAB took the extra trouble to understand our business and demonstrated a genuine interest in our company and how the process would benefit our day to day and long term strategy.”

BAB pride themselves on being as straightforward as possible in their service delivery. Providing a Fixed Fee quotation, clients are made aware of all the costs upfront. This price is also guaranteed; no matter how many audits are required, the cost will not increase.

Paul finished by summing up his thoughts up on the whole certification process, saying;

“I have no doubt that we run a more efficient and focused company; we feel much more confident in the strength of our procedures. The highlight of the service for us is gaining ISO 9001 certification and proudly adding the Certification Mark to our letter head and web site. Our whole team gets a morale boost when we pass our audit!”

The certification process

Once an organisation decides to go ahead with certification, they are assigned a Lead Assessor who remains the principal contact throughout the registration process and beyond. Prior to a formal Audit, the Lead Assessor visits to explain the standard and undertakes an initial assessment of the organisation’s current arrangements. The organisation then receives a detailed report including all required actions and, together with their Lead Assessor, determines an appropriate timetable for the Audit Assessment. Paul spoke of his experience during the initial assessment;

“The implementation process has far exceeded our expectations; we have a far more robust operating procedure system in place which will allow us to grow the company in a controlled and structured manner. Customers have the assurance that we have procedures in place to cater for all business situations, whilst staff have structured documents to work to and suppliers are now measured and scored against a number of aspects of their service to us.”

When it comes to a third-party audit, inevitably some are a little apprehensive with thoughts of a stereotypical, emotionless and unapproachable auditor. In fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth when it comes to the British Assessment Bureau (BAB), as attested by Paul;

“Initially we were nervous of the audit visit, however this process is carried out in such a positive way; our auditor took the time to learn about our company and made many positive suggestions, many of which we have gone on and incorporated into our system. We could not ask for better support during this process.”

BAB’s experienced Lead Assessors have wide ranging experience across various sectors and sizes of organisations. Whilst they are there to assess, their aim is to add value wherever they can.

Once an organisation is ready and has filled the gaps highlighted in the pre-Audit report, they are visited once more for the formal Audit. This will reveal the effectiveness of the management system and whether it meets all of the requirements of the standard. Paul commented on their experiences, saying;

“The Audit process focused our minds and ensures that we regularly self-examine our quality processes to ensure we constantly conform to our ISO standards. We have found BAB to be very fair and live up to their motto ‘without fear, or favour'”

Benefits of implementation

Successful organisations recognise that their claims are only truly credible when their credentials are validated by a respected third party. Paul agreed with this, saying;

“Customers feel confident that we are a professional company with a long term commitment to quality and service. We are accepted as a potential supplier by many more large international companies as a result of our ISO 9001 certification which adds credibility to our company.”

In addition, ISO 9001 has helped AR Valve Resources become a better run organisation, thanks to the new processes and procedures put into place;

“The main benefits of having ISO certification include the standardisation of our procedures which clearly define and document the process employed within our company at every stage of our operations.”

Despite not being a priority for most when beginning the certification process, this improved structure brought by implementation of the standard creates the added benefit of helping staff become more confident in their roles.

Whilst Paul has touched on ISO 9001 opening new doors for his company, in tough economic times certification also gives existing clients another reason for continuing to choose a company serious about quality.

In findings from their latest independent Client Satisfaction Survey, BAB found that 58% of clients had won more business as a result of becoming ISO 9001 certified. No wonder then, that 95% said they would recommend ISO certification to others.

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