Tag Archives: ISO 9001

Beyond the Checklist: The Vital Role of Management Systems to Business Success

Managing people, data, and information is an essential element of business success. The “plan-do-check-act” process of business planning is a useful and simple way to make sure your management and the business check off on each step of this process. Success in business goes way beyond a checklist however. If fully embraced by the organization, management systems provide the means for objective assessment, personal accountability, and continuous improvement.

For fifteen years Harbec, Inc. has been pursuing and adopting ISO management systems focused on customer-and-value centric business objectives. To date Harbec, Inc. has achieved three ISO certifications including:

  • ISO 9001: Quality
  • ISO 14001: Environmental Management
  • ISO 50001/SEP: Energy Management

Further, Harbec, Inc. is actively pursuing certification for ISO 13485: Medical. The visual below presents these four management systems in the context of customer-and-value centric objectives.

mgt syst


Customer-Centric Management Systems

Pursuing ISO certification for quality can be considered a customer-centric business objective. Early on in its business evolution Harbec knew quality was a top value-driver for its customers. Many businesses recognize that having robust management systems that could be certified and validated by reputable third parties is a way to differentiate itself, and to support ongoing and future customer relationships.

Through the process of adopting ISO 9001 companies are able to enhance their quality management program. Management systems like ISO provide the means to identify areas of opportunity and continuously improve your organization’s performance year over year. As such, ISO management systems are a powerful solution to support business planning, management, and accountability.

Value-Centric Management Systems

Harbec is striving to be a sustainable manufacturing company. Sustainable production is a business objective and value for many domestic and global brands, manufacturers, and retailers including Unilever, Wal-Mart, Proctor and Gamble, LEGO, and Nike. These and other businesses are seeking out more sustainable materials and component manufacturers within their supply chain. As they do, they are looking for suppliers that can provide a tangible sustainable value, like carbon neutrality, to support their product stewardship and sustainability goals and targets.

Demonstrating values like carbon-neutrality in transparent, objective, and concrete ways is reinforced with the use of management systems. The evolution of sustainability as a business and product (consumer) value has transitioned away from philosophy toward objective and measurable performance. Companies (and consumers) want to see legitimate claims and supporting data and information that can be reviewed and verified. While a great deal of “greenwashing” continues to persist in the marketplace most major global brands are developing their own or working with existing frameworks for ensuring that their integration and implementation of sustainability into their products can be trusted.

In 2013 Harbec achieved carbon-neutrality. This accomplishment was made possible through years of business planning and the disciplined pursuit of a highly energy efficient business that also adopted on-site renewable energy generation and combined heat and power (CHP) systems that operate on thermal priority. Further, adoption of ISO 50001, an energy management standard, supports the business’ ability to track, monitor, and maintain its energy management system. Pursuit of a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) certification called “Superior Energy Performance (SEP)” takes things a step further and requires the business to establish additional and specific energy reduction targets based upon a baseline year and to have a plan for achieving those targets. Through its adoption and certification of ISO 50001/SEP, Harbec has been able to clearly demonstrate and validate how it is truly a carbon-neutral manufacturing partner.

Don’t Fear the Audit

Whether it is an annual third party audit, or an audit initiated by a customer, the process of an audit can evoke anxiety and fear for many businesses and managers. The audit process is where accountability and truth collide. The business has to address whether it has done all that it can to ensure the management system in question is performing as it should. Ultimately this comes down to people and the management of people. But the audit process is also your true friend. The act of going through an audit allows the business to assess and evaluate how well it is maintaining consistency and holding to the management standard. The audit process allows the business to recalibrate itself so that the common language and framework of the management system become a mutual understanding and ongoing business priority. Knowing what is expected of you, and what to expect from others are two key benefits of implementing and having regular audits of management systems.

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Celebrating 2013: The Power of People, Partnerships and Performance

As we come to the close of 2013 there is much to be grateful for. The manufacturing sector in the U.S. is gaining momentum, particularly since all five components of the Institute for Supply Management’s (ISM) purchasing managers’ index (PMI) have demonstrated their strongest performance since mid-2011. In our last blog we touched on the vital role of American manufacturing and how many businesses that shifted production of goods overseas in the past fifteen years have begun to reinvest in U.S.-based production. The manufacturing sector of the U.S. is proving to be resilient. From our point of view at Harbec, the following three elements contributed to the strong momentum of our business the past year:

  • Performance
  • Partnerships
  • People

At Harbec we have seen firsthand, tangible outcomes that can occur by focusing on our performance, our people, and our partnerships. In 2013 Harbec updated its ISO 9001 and ISO 14001 certifications reflecting our commitment to quality and environmental management systems. We also pursued and were certified ISO 50001/SEP recognizing the importance of energy management systems to our business. The “SEP” designation for ISO 50001 stands for “Superior Energy Performance” and is an industry-led certification program that is accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and focuses Harbec on achieving continual improvements toward energy efficiency. Our ISO certifications for quality, environmental, and energy practices are reflective of our philosophy of continual improvement in all that we do. As a result, Harbec is a leaner, stronger, more productive, and more aware organization than it was a year prior. In addition, our performance has also improved in all aspects of our business, but particularly our performance in helping our customers with custom engineered solutions. Our ability to adopt continuous improvement programs has enabled us adapt to change, drive innovation, and invest in our plant and our people. Consequently, we have achieved cycle-time, speed to market, quality, and cost-competitiveness improvements which have positively impacted our operating performance and customer satisfaction. Harbec’s performance was also enhanced by our partnerships in 2013. In the past year we extended our commitment to energy performance by becoming a U.S. Department of Energy Better Buildings Better Plants Partner. In doing so, we have set a goal to further reduce our energy intensity by 25% by year 2020. As 2014 approaches we will also announce some additional partnerships that we worked hard to solidify in 2013, including efforts to integrate new manufacturing capabilities with research and development and our energy reduction goals.  In 2014 we will announce a new initiative we are working on to use additive manufacturing tools to incorporate nature inspired (biomimicry) designs into production-capable injection molds that can further reduce cycle-time and energy consumption. The partnerships we established this past year were in support of Harbec’s 2013 goal of becoming a Carbon Neutral production facility, which we are proud to have achieved. As a result, we can now provide “Carbon Conscious Components” to our customers as an added value to our existing technical and business solutions.

While we are proud of our accomplishments, we are most grateful for the beating heart to our organization, our people. Without the hard work, dedication, engagement and collaboration of our employees, we would not be able to achieve our mission or sustain our growth. Harbec’s employees are the glue that bonds technical capabilities with customer expectations to achieve custom engineered solutions. In 2013 our employees demonstrated grace under pressure, wisdom and tact. As a recap, the graphic below highlights a sample of what we are grateful for having accomplished through our Performance, Partnerships and People in 2013.

In our view the greatest benefit occurs when people, partnerships, and performance can be integrated to achieve outcomes that are more consequential, lasting, and sustainable than if addressed singularly. In 2014, we commit to continue our efforts to align and integrate the power of people with strong external partnerships and toward performance improvements. Thank you to our employees, partners, and customers who have enabled Harbec to continue to evolve as a high value custom injection molding business with a social and environmental conscious to our customers and the world. We wish you the best for a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year!