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ISO Certification and Quality

I SO 9000: The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is the specialized international agency for standardization, at present comprising the national standards bodies of 91 countries. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) is the member body representing the United States. ISO is made up of approximately 180 Technical Committees. Each Technical Committee is responsible for one of many areas of specialization ranging from asbestos to zinc. The purpose of ISO is to promote the development of standardization and related world activities to facilitate the international exchange of goods and services, and to develop cooperation in intellectual, scientific, technological, and economic activity. The results of ISO technical work are published as international standards. The standards discussed here are a result of this process.

ISO Technical Committee 176 (ISO/TC176) was formed in 1979 to harmonize the increasing international activity in quality management and quality assurance standards. The United States has input into the development process through membership in ISO via ANSI. This input is channeled through a Technical Advisory Group (TAG). ASQ administers, on behalf of ANSI, the U.S. TAG to ISO/TC176. Qualified U.S. experts participate in the meetings where these documents are drafted. ASQ continues to administer the U.S. TAG to ISO/TC176, and the United States continues to contribute to this process of developing international standards on quality assurance and quality management, and the generic supporting technologies necessary for full implementation.

The ISO 9000 series is a set of three individual, but related, international standards on quality management and quality assurance. They are generic, not specific to any particular products. They can be used by manufacturing and service industries alike. These standards were developed to effectively document the quality system elements to be implemented in order to maintain an efficient quality system in your company. The ISO 9000 Series standards do not themselves specify the technology to be used for implementing quality system elements.

There are several benefits to implementing this series in your company. For example, it will guide you to build quality into your product or service and avoid costly after-the-fact inspections, warranty costs, and rework. In addition, you may also be able to reduce the number of audits customers perform on your operation. Increasingly, customers are accepting supplier quality system registration from an accredited third-party assessment based on these standards.

Corporations around the globe have built and continue to build their quality systems around these standards. Both large and small companies with international businesses perceive the ISO 9000 series as a route to open markets and improved competitiveness. You don't have to be a multinational corporation or have business overseas to benefit from implementing these standards in your company.

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