My late father had a lot of favorite sayings, but one I remember him using often was this: “That wasn’t a mistake. It was a learning experience.” That’s wise advice that I carry with me every day.

Even at a place like bo-mar Industries, where we aim for “plus or minus 0” tolerances, sometimes things go wrong. And that’s okay, because those moments really are learning opportunities, just like my dad said. If you truly believe in continual improvement – and I do – the key to growth is not just acknowledging problems but actually studying them.

That’s one of the reasons why bo-mar has adhered to ISO 9001 standards for more than a decade and currently holds the latest certification level, ISO 9001:2015. In our previous life as a vendor in industries like defense and medical products, ISO was mandatory. Now, even if we don’t necessarily need to meet these standards, we still do because it makes us better internally and for our customers. It’s a true win-win.

What is ISO 9001:2015?

In a nutshell, ISO 9001:2015 is a voluntary certification program related to quality management. ISO stands for “International Organization of Standardization,” the non-governmental organization that sets the requirements. What’s nice about these requirements is that they’re rigid enough to be effective, but flexible enough to be used across industries from metal fabrication to dog training (although there are more specific ISO standards for certain industries like automotive).

The requirements include, but aren’t limited to:

  • Context of the organization, such as customer needs and industry regulations
  • Leadership with defined roles  
  • Planning around measurable objectives
  • Support including tools and training
  • Operation that has controls in place to consistently meet customer expectations
  • Performance evaluation for individuals and the company as a whole
  • Improvement efforts such as analysis of failures

Honestly, I think the first five are kind of no-brainers for any company. Leaders should be leaders. Team members should know their job and have the tools they need to do it. Everyone should focus on the customer.

In my mind, it’s those last two that really differentiate an ISO company from a non-ISO company. When you’re running full steam ahead all day every day, it’s easy to be complacent. You don’t really stop and think, “how are we doing?” and “how could we do better?” Being ISO 9001:2015 certified, we’re constantly measuring our performance and looking for ways to improve quality and consistency.

How we ensure continuous improvement at bo-mar

Like I said earlier, our goal is plus or minus 0 every time. But sometimes a part is out of spec. When that happens, we definitely don’t deliver it to a customer! But we also don’t throw it away. We put it in our nonconformance area. We then begin the process of tracking down why it’s out of spec so it doesn’t happen again. Perhaps it’s a setting on the machine. Perhaps it’s the way the metal is secured in the machine. Perhaps it’s the material used. Sometimes it’s a combination of factors.

We also take advantage of the Design Assist service to fine-tune and improve processes. When exploring all the ways we could produce a finished product, we don’t just rely on what we’ve done in the past. We push our engineers to determine the best way to have a consistent (and excellent) result.

In either case, whether pre-production or post-production, ISO 9001 quality standards are built into everything we do at bo-mar. Even though this certification is voluntary, I can’t imagine not having it because no one here would settle for less.

Til next time,