Achieving division quality

Q: How do you implement a division’s quality plan at the plant level to achieve the division’s overall quality objectives? Can you provide some examples for enhancement and improvement of the division’s products and services through the implementation of ISO 9001, problem-solving tools, prevention methods, quality-at-the-source and continual improvement techniques?

David Stuckey
Fort Worth, TX

A: The most effective way to implement a division’s quality plan at the plant level is to translate the division’s quality plan and objectives at the plant level. For example, if the division goal is to reduce defects by X%, you first must decide how much a particular plant is contributing to the overall defects at the division level. Then, you can realistically decide how much defect reduction should occur at that plant so that defect reduction by X% is achieved at the division level.

If the division’s quality plan or objectives cannot be translated in a way that makes sense to a plant, you can forget about implementing the division’s quality plan at the plant level. In that case, you may want to revise the division plan so that it can be translated at the plant level in terms of goals and objectives.

For example, a shoe manufacturing organization I audited had translated an organizational goal of profit so that the cost of poor quality was tracked by style of shoes. This way, management would know which style had a more adverse impact on the profitability.

In other words, it knew how much each shoe style contributed to overall profit for the organization. Having this information, the organization was able to establish the maximum percentage defective acceptable for that shoe style in terms of its impact on the bottom line.

To answer your second question, there are many examples of product and service quality improvement that can be found in published literature. You could contact ASQ’s Quality Information Center to request articles on the tools, techniques and examples of product and quality improvement.

The Quality Management Handbook for the Apparel Industry1 provides these examples:

  1. According to a report covering 15 economies and 5,398 firms in North America, Europe and Asia, the categories in which firms report receiving the highest benefits from ISO 9000 certifications are "quality improvements," "customer satisfaction," "improved procedures" and "corporate image."
  2. In a U.S. survey of user experience in implementing ISO 9001:2000:

    • 67% of respondents reported improved customer satisfaction.
    • 57% of respondents reported improved quality of products and service.
    • 60% of respondents reported improvement in productivity.
    • 51% of respondents reported improved customer retention.
    • 48% of respondents reported improvement in the bottom line.
    • 37% of respondents reported greater market share.
  3. In the United Kingdom, many CEOs said they believe implementation of ISO 9001 has transformed their company values, putting a focus on serving the customer and understanding the strategic nature of quality as a competitive weapon.
  4. The certification process helped an organization in the United States understand its own infrastructures—the network of individuals, systems and processes that allowed it to function as a whole—even though many were located on different continents.
  5. Honda of America Manufacturing Inc.’s drive to attain ISO 90022 certification helped improve its quality assurance system.
  6. Efficiencies resulting from the registration efforts of the United Airlines’ engine maintenance division included reductions in average engine-overhaul cycle time from 120 to 60 days and pieces-parts cycle time from 52 to 26 days.
  7. The Indian Merchants’ Chamber achieved a total improvement in service quality by upgrading its working practices against a quality system such as ISO 9002.

The ISO 9001 registration process provides an organization with the opportunity to:

  • Better understand and anticipate customer requirements.
  • Improve its understanding of business processes and control them in a logical, systematic way.
  • Reduce paperwork by doing away with forms and reports that do not add any value to the processes or products.
  • Foster internal discipline leading to streamlined production, reduced cycle times and quality improvements.
  • Create an environment in which quality can be managed more effectively.

To learn more about quality improvement through total quality management, read the QP article, "Don’t Count TQM Out."3 Another avenue you could explore is attending quality-related conferences and local ASQ section and division meetings. The speakers at those events are always eager to share success stories.

Pradip Mehta
Mehta Consulting LLC
Coppell, TX


  1. Pradip Mehta, Quality Management Handbook for the Apparel Industry, New Age International Publishers, 2010.
  2. International Organization for Standardization, ISO 9002:1994—Quality—Model for quality assurance in production, installation and servicing.
  3. Vinod R. Singhal and Kevin B. Hendricks, "Don’t Count TQM Out," Quality Progress, April 1999, pp. 35-42.

Clarifying calibration

Q: I was recently in a discussion with someone about ISO 170251 calibration requirements. It was my understanding that all equipment associated with the tests within the scope of ISO 17025 needed to have an uncertainty value reported with each calibration. However, my coworker said only tests that actually use the uncertainty value as a part of their test results calculations require an uncertainty value. That means we may have tests performed within the scope of ISO 17025, but for which the equipment doesn’t need an uncertainty value. Could you please provide some clarity on this?

From the ASQ Ask the Experts blog,

A: First, it’s important to understand why the measurement uncertainty is required. This is to support metrological traceability requirements for any measurement made. The definition of metrological traceability per ISO Guide 99:2007 is:

"Property of a measurement result, whereby the result can be related to a reference through a documented unbroken chain of calibrations, each contributing to the measurement uncertainty."2

Therefore, if you require your measurements to be traceable, then measurement uncertainty is required. This definition of metrological traceability was defined per ISO Guide 99:2007, but there has been confusion on the requirement for reporting measurement uncertainty because the current version of ISO/IEC 17025:2005 states an "and/or" requirement in section regarding reporting measurement results with measurement uncertainty.

Whenever such ambiguity exists in the standards, the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation3 provides guidelines and policy documents for clarification for accrediting bodies and accredited laboratories. The ILAC P14:01/20134 is one such document that provides policy guidance in reporting measurement uncertainties for the laboratories and for accrediting bodies to enforce.

In short, if any equipment (and its associated measurements) requires metrological traceability, measurement uncertainty must be estimated for that equipment regardless of whether it is within the ISO 17025 scope of accreditation or not.

Dilip A. Shah
E = mc3 Solutions
Medina, OH


  1. International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission, ISO/IEC 17025:2005—General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories.
  2. International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission, ISO/IEC Guide 99:2007—International vocabulary of metrology—Basic and general concepts and associated terms.
  3. More information on the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation can be found at www.ilac.org.
  4. International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation, ILAC-P14:01/2013—Policy for uncertainty in calibration, www.ilac.org/documents/ILAC_P14_01_2013.pdf (case sensitive).

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