ISOs are commonly held to be by-word for quality in business. Covering a vast range of management processes or approaches, ISO standards are held by millions of businesses worldwide, demonstrating holders’ capabilities, compliance and culture.
Here we cover essential insights regarding ISO standards, including why ISO standards are important and which standards are applicable or valuable for the manufacturing sector.
ISOs were developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation (IOS), with the intention of defining and sharing standard approaches and best practices across all industries. While they began by standardising things like weights and measures, they have expanded over the years to cover everything from manufacturing processes to digital networks.
Based in Switzerland, IOS is an independent, international organisation made up of experts from 166 national standards bodies. So ISOs are global and applicable to all.
ISO standards were developed to “address shared challenges”. While many consumers may not even be aware of their existence, they give people confidence that the products and services they use are being developed or delivered safely, reliably and to a good standard.
They are important for holders and consumers alike, ensuring standardization, safety and quality in operations. For example, ISOs define what substances or materials are safe for use in manufacturing, ensuring products such as children’s toys do not contain harmful chemicals.
The benefits of ISO standards are far-reaching for holders. There are legal benefits to operating safely and compliantly, operational benefits from productivity and quality, as well as commercial and reputational benefits. The advantages include:
There are 23,992 ISO standards, covering every aspect of our lives. And this number will continue to grow as new challenges are discovered and new processes developed. When we consider ISO standards for manufacturing, there are four main ‘families’ of standards:
The ISO 9000 Family covers quality management, helping holders to define and improve the quality of their products or services. ISO 9001 is the standard itself – the certification which businesses can secure. ISO’s website explains: “The ISO 9001 standard sets out the criteria for a quality management system and is the only standard in the family that can be certified to.”
With almost 24,000 ISO standards available, some are more relevant or valuable to certain sectors and industries. For the manufacturing sector, the following ISOs are widely used:
In practice, ISO 9001 certification shows that processes are focused on performance, productivity and meeting the customers’ needs. Similarly, ISO 14001 certification demonstrates processes are efficient, sustainable and compliant. These standards offer both financial and reputational benefits for holders and customers alike, alongside the wider commercial and environmental benefits.
ISOs are a valuable investment for all business types, irrespective of size or sector, demonstrating a commitment to high standards, safety and quality. They are particularly valuable in sectors such as manufacturing, demonstrating holders’ ability to deliver quality management processes and systems, and commitment to customer service, culture and continual improvement.