The Elsmar Cove
QS-9000 (and eventually TS 16949 and now IATF 16949) - ISO 9001
Information Exchange

This Site is provided as a service to those seeking
to achieve and/or maintain ISO 9001 and/or QS 9000/TS 16949/IATF 16949 compliance.
Please help by contributing your involvement to the collective effort.
War Stories Welcome!

Originally Written December 1995

Can We Talk?
Howdy! My name is Marc. I've been 'playing' with the ISO 9000 group of "quality" standards since about 1990. I've been 'playing games' (my opinion) with the automotive industry since about 1987. Not real long (some of my friends have been in automotive since the dawn of time to hear them tell it... You know - back around Harvey Firestone, Tom Edison and the 'original' Mr. Ford's time [Do you watch Biography?]. In fact, one guy practically swears he was a member of the BedRock Auto Company's power train advanced design group). But long enough, and recent enough, for all practical purposes.

My Curriculum Vitae / Resume

On a more personal level....

I learned about the ISO 9000 group of standards in about 1990 when this gal (whom I admit - I really didn't like (she was 'commercial', I was a Mil-Spec kind of guy) gave me a copy of the specs and told me they would be a bed-rock standard in the 1990's (she was obviously right). Well, by golly, I picked up the copy and read it. I pretty much laughed at the time. Being involved in government work, these things were all givens considering a contract taken as a whole. I saw ISO 9001:1987 (I did not particularly consider ISO 9004:1987 'suggestions') as a minor, yet significant, sub-set of every government contract I had ever worked on. No sweat. "This is it?", I said to my self back then... I read it, studied it, and talked to people about it. I focused on it. I worked with a company (SACHS) in achieving registration. I did the Lead Auditor course in 1994 (now it's d'rigeur, but back then it wasn't a necessary "credential").

In the military-industrial complex at the time, I was involved in high reliability low volume specialty SMT electronic hardware reliability (stuff for certain missiles, specialized imaging, communications & navigational electronics, military and CIA 'thingies' - you know the stuff...). A partner at the time and I gave ESS (Environmental Stress Screening [of electronic hardware]) seminars and picked up customers which included GE, Boeing, ITT Paradyne, and Iomega (circa 1988 - But, Now - can you say Zip drive?). Around this time a certain American auto manufacturer was having a bit of a problem with their radio/cassette and individual auto system computer reliability and one of their engineers attended one of our ESS seminars. Thus, my introduction to the automotive world through Environmental Stress Screening (ESS) of Electronic (and other) Hardware & Components. ESS was a new tool. In general, about this time, the automotive industry was finding out people really do like, and were in fact demanding, 'good', reliable sound systems on a parallel with air bags (which I have also been closely involved with). Hot damn.... Radios that really work and sound good to boot!

On the other hand, the computer (brain) was also important for more functional reasons. People really like it when not only does the radio work and sound good, but when the car also runs... It's more fun to listen to the radio while driving than while pushing. Just ask Al Bundy.

I am a veteran of coordinating a successful Tier I automotive suppliers' ISO 9001 registration effort (achieved July 1994 after 9 months of preparation).

I facilitated/coordinated a Tier I automotive suppliers' corporate (American, German & Japanese customers) QS 9000 registration effort through International Approval Services (AGA - American Gas Association) - our registrar. The audit was held the week of 6 May 1996 (5 days total). There were minors found - most of them addressed (8-D Response) before the auditors left on Friday 10 May. It should be noted that during ISO 9001 audits, the auditors have the option of not citing certain 'minors' other than as a comment (such as a typo). During the QS 9000 audit we were told no comments were allowed. Even a 'typo' is cited and documented as a 'minor' nonconformance. So, if you plan to go thru QS after ISO, expect an increase in the number of 'minors'. And, as expected, each minor must have an 8-D response. Containment must always be considered ('where appropriate'). I worked with one of the 1st 100 companies in the world to achieve ISO 9001 compliance with the QS 9000 addendum.
I have just completed my contract with Harley-Davidson in their ISO 9001 implementation effort as the York, PA project coordinator. I have brought in someone to work with me in York. He has taken on the tail end of the effort so that I may spend more time on several other contracts. My other current contracts include TEXTRON Corporation and Eagle Chemicals.

From a discussion group thread:

Seems to me there is an analogy in the legal system <gasp>.
First, we have the standards-writers (legislature).
Then, there are the implementing organizations - individuals and orgs. trying to interpret and follow (sometimes skirt) the law.
Next there are the consultants (lawyers... <gasp again>).
Then, the registrars (judges).

What a mess *that* system is!

What Part Do I Play?
(or Who has Control of the Tiller?)

As an auditor said to me:

"I am simply a Judge - interpreting and applying the ISO - QS Laws at the company interface level.

As the facilitator directing development, integration and implementation it is your responsibility to be a Teacher, Student, Guide, Navigator, Director and Choreographer, and to serve as a Lawyer - representing your client company. It is specifically your responsibility to challenge disputed 'gray' area interpretations, to argue and justify your client companys' interpretation(s) of, and compliance with, (how they meet the intent of) the Law (ISO 9001 and/or QS 9000).

It is the responsibility of your client company management to ensure understanding of, and compliance with, internal systems and documentation - from ISO 9001 (or QS 9000) and the company Quality Systems manual to individual work instructions. It is a specific, necessary responsibility of your client company management to provide leadership and to be involved in the continuing process.

You can appeal my findings and decisions if you wish. There IS an appeals process (system).

And use lots of flow & organizational charts, and don't forget lots of tables of contents, matrices and various supporting databases... And there will be a quiz.... A big, long, expensive quiz.... And smaller quizzes about every 6 months..."

Well, that's not exactly what the guy said, but it better describes the reality.

This is not to say I know a whole heck of a lot about it all. On the other hand, I undertook this QS 9000 challenge on and to my surprise(!?!) our auditor had only 4 prior experiences in QS audits. Folks, he didn't know any more than I did. I also found that (as might be expected) only about 20% of the auditors who took the automotive industry 'test' passed the first time.

I called on friends, and some people who didn't know me from Adam, asking them to recount experiences or cite any informational sources. I kept coming up with blanks. "I've got a copy of the spec" I'd hear from just about everyone. But no experience.

So - I trudged off to the Intnerdnet - er, Internet to see what I could find there (which, painfully obvious to all is here). For all intents and purposes, nada. I mean hey! I got the QS9000 URL address (AKA Domain Name)! (I can tell you're impressed...)

Well, now... The best way I know of to stay ahead of the game is through communication. Which is the reason for this site. My intention is to trade interpretations, stories, documents, and/or whatever with the goal of simpler and more cost effective (cheaper) implementation and maintenance. I bold maintenance here because systems decay and break down too. This is an 'always ignored' aspect. If you don't change your oil, don't bitch about your engine blowing sky high at a truly inopportune time...

If you have any questions, don't hesitate to give me a call at: (513) 341-6272 (513 341-MARC). I'd be happy to talk with you!

Or E-Mail Me!

This page was reviewed for dead links on Thu, 2019-01-24 3:37 AM EST USA (Coordinated Universal Time [ZULU] -4 hours)
Made With A Mac!