Traders in the context of sub-contractor development



QS 9000 sanctioned Interpretation 1st July 2001 requires QS 9000 certified companies to develop sub-contractors to achieve compliance to current version of ISO 9000 Quality Management series of standards by January 2003. Does this apply to traders (Sub-contractors) who sell standard materials like Nut, Bolts, Washers etc?


I always work on the basis that should a supplier / trader impact directly on the quality of the product, i.e. they are a core / production supplier then they should been encouraged to develop their system towards ISO.

This doesn't mean that they are required to gain 3rd party accreditation but you must satisfy yourselves and in some respect your auditor, that they fulfill the requirements and intent of the standard.

In a nutshell and in my opinion any core supplier should meet the requirements of ISO, documented or otherwise compliance is the key.

Hope it helps.

Al Dyer

I have to of course, does it matter if it is a specific supplier or a general "off the shelf" distributor. The customer does not give a flying fig! They expect a good part whether you or a sub-contracter makes the item. It is your companies name on the line!


All good points for sure, but what about the suppliers of things like "off the shelf items", paint, sand, etc.?

We purchase some materials (used in production) from the local hardware store. There are a few suppliers (primarily in the toy industry) from who we buy component parts which we then use in our process for automotive. Problem is, we buy maybe 500-1000 of these clips every 6-8 months. This puts us somewhere on the preferred customer list slightly below Carver Elementary School's bi-centenial "Buy-a-pin" fund raiser. The mention of ISO certification being a requirement to continue as our supplier will obviously strike terror in the hearts of this supplier.

We have another supplier who has an exclussive product which is the only approved product by all three of the biggies. The product is made in a garage behind the owner's house by the owner and his son-in-law.

I jump back to Andrews' post and ask if there is a distinction between some "classes" of suppliers. I am sure the intent is to ensure a supplier base which can be relied on to provide good quality. As we are responsible for the quality of our suppliers and jump through hoops to document our verification of their incoming certs etc., how would it benefit anyone other than a registrar to require certification?

If the requirement allowed identification of suppliers whose work/product actually impacted quality ON ITS OWN, and excluded suppliers whose product "contributed" to quality, it may be feasible. Thinking here is that a "contributing" product becomes part of our process which is then qualified, tested and approved in its own right. After all, a product supplied by a certified company which is then put into a mixing bowl is no longer the product which was certified in the first place.

Obviously, if I send parts to a plater before I coat them, the plater has impacted quality in their own right and should fall under the requirement. On the opposite side of the coin, when I put a paint dot on the head of a bolt for our customer's identification, the hardware store who sold me the paint should be exempt (even if I bought 5000 gallons a day).

This probably looks like nonsense to some of you but I can assure you what I am "soap-boxing" is not uncommon. We are quite low in the supply chain (away from the Big 3) and deal with a number of "mom & pop" or non-auto suppliers. Number 1, they can't afford the expense and number 2, they could care less about our requirements.

We monitor our suppliers closely and have a very good relationship with them. If we didn't, we would sort it out or get a new supplier. We have excellent results when we have a perceived issue with them and get quick resolution. Some are certified to QS or ISO and some are not.

Most of you will recognize the truth in the statement "The bottom line is price". I am sure you have lost quotes based soley on cost. We have lost on quotes and later found the supplier is not certified to anything even though the prerequsite was certification. The point of this is simply that the suppliers who are forced into certification will look to recover their cost on the supply chain. Increased cost to us will drive up our quotes. This philosophy is pushing it the wrong way. According to the "experts", QS/ISO is supposed to reduce the cost of doing business not drive up the cost.

Sure, everybody knows what the surveys say. Some company saved 35 Billion and increased business by double the National Debt. Right!!! QS-9000 has cost us money. It cost a lot to put it in place and it costs a lot to keep it going. It has not gained us 1 piece of new business. We have lost a considerable amount of business to competitors who are not certified. We are mandated to reduce our prices "because we are QS".

The original effort and expense of establishing a good quality system and continuing to maintain that system was/is well worth it. By maintaining a structured system, we have saved money in production, learned to do things better and made our customers a lot happier. Not to deflate the QS/ISO balloon but this system was in place long before any checks were written to a registrar.

The whole point is, some suppliers try to do things right, some don't. As a company, we should have the right to determine which of our supply base fits into our structure and to what extent they need to fit. We, as suppliers in our own right, will be judged by our customers as to our suitability in their system. If we meet their needs and stand behind our product/service, why would they even care if our local hardware store was being suitably developed toward QS-9000?

This issue is quickly appearing as a business promoter for the registrars and nothing else. It is time to look at our industry and determine who is being served by the requirements we are imposing. Bottom line is it sure doesn't look like quality is being served.

Sorry Marc - no offense meant to anyone on your boards. You can have your soap-box back now.



BTW - to put my previous post in context with the string, I forgot to point out that the intrepetation cited by Andrews requires CERTIFICATION not compliance as stated (there is also the OEM approval which would in fact be compliance).

My tirade is prompted by the inclusion of ALL "suppliers of production materials, production or service parts or heat treating, plating, painting or other finishing services".

To address Andrews' original question, our auditor has said "YES. The requirement applies to all suppliers (above) regardless if they are the manufacturer or the distributor. Any supplier/subcontractor not certified by the end date, yet still used by you, will constitute a major nonconformance."


Al Dyer


Points well taken, but I still have to say that the customer doesn't care if I bought nails from Wal-Mart or K-Mart. If the nail fails it is my concern to act on the supplier.

Although they would both probably tell me to go take a flying leap!

Laura M

some subcontractors (suppliers) are distributors such as raw material - say bar stock. Does the distributor have to be certified, or the producer of the bar stock?

Al Dyer


Respectfully, does it really matter since you are supplying the customer?

If I buy a chair at K-Mart, I reallt don't care who the supplier is, I just want the product I purchased.

Have a good night!!!


Fully vaccinated are you?
Originally posted by Laura M

Some subcontractors (suppliers) are distributors such as raw material - say bar stock. Does the distributor have to be certified, or the producer of the bar stock?
It depends upon your specific requirements. I know a distributor in Dayton Ohio which is QS registered. {A few years back I didn't even know a distributor could be QS.} Their requirements of their suppliers depend upon each product they distribute, to who, etc. So - it can be both.

Laura M

I was referring to the requirement that suppliers are registered to a quality system. In this case it would seem that the guy making the steel is more important than the distributor. Although I have found situations where the distributor performing metalurgical analysis and provides along with the mill cert.
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