As membrane keypad manufacturer, Fascia Graphics turns 20, Paul Bennett, MD of the company explains the importance of ISO and UL accreditation for manufacturers and their customers
This April we celebrate our 20th anniversary, and this milestone has been a time to reflect on what has been really important to our business and our customers – in a period where we have gone from the ‘new kids on the block’ with 40 customers to the market leader with over 800.
For us and many manufacturers, quality is paramount and this is why ISO and UL accreditation has been so important. For over a decade we have carried ‘ISO 9001’ status for our Quality Management Systems (“QMS”). These standards provide customers with the confidence that your manufacturer consistently provides goods and services that:
- Meet customer needs and expectations
- Comply with applicable regulations
As an ISO 9001:2008 approved manufacturer, monthly audits of the systems are carried out by fully trained auditors to ensure that the systems and personnel are working to the QA procedures set out in the ISO manual. ISO requirements include top management commitment to quality, customer focus, adequacy of resources, employee competence, process management (for production, service delivery and relevant administrative and support processes).
For international manufacturers, or those businesses that are considering going global, it is vitally important that the Underwriters Laboratories Inc. (UL) mark is achieved. This is because the UL mark is the most widely recognised safety certification mark in the world, and it has been a product safety leader for over 100 years - widely acknowledged for its safety standards, integrity and independence.
The UL mark is also particularly recognised in the US by consumers, regulatory authorities and the insurance industry. So, carrying the most accepted safety certification mark in the US can open up a vast US market for UK exporters and their customers.
In conclusion, for those manufacturers serious about developing their export markets, the UL mark is essential. Furthermore, it is our view that as ISO accreditation encompasses almost every business activity, it should form part of a continuous improvement culture, as it identifies both areas for improvement, and recognises good practice such as an investment in state of the art equipment, and the development of comprehensive training systems such as Q Pulse and NVQ.
Quality standards – the green light to award winning pedestrian signals…
Achieving quality standards can not only help manufacturers win new business, it can also support customers in producing an award winning products.
In 2011, Fascia assisted AGD Systems Limited win a second Queen’s Award for Enterprise: Innovation 2011, by supplying screens for its flagship AGD946 combined puffin nearside pedestrian signal.
The company had supplied AGD with labels for a number of years, but following a detailed market Request for Quotation (RFQ) in 2010, it was selected to provide the optical screens for the AGD94x series of pedestrian signals.
The signal, which is widely installed in city and local authorities throughout the UK, was recognised for the Queen’s Award for its innovative styling and features. In order to meet the product requirements, Fascia took the following approach:
- The materials used for the front panel and the gasket assemblies were reviewed. As a result, the production samples utilised more cost effective raw materials.
- Solutions were also found to minimise the number of prints required and reduce the assembly time of the rear gaskets. The product improvements allowed Fascia Graphics to continue producing product of the highest quality in the most economical manner.
Dafydd Hughes, Supply Assurance Manager, AGD Systems Limited identified the importance of quality by saying: “In an increasingly competitive environment, we recognised that we wanted to work with a screen supplier that was willing to continuously improve its products and not stand still. Fascia fitted this mould by constantly challenging itself to improve its quality, cost and delivery.”
For further information on ISO 9001:2008, visit www.iso.org, and the UL mark, go to www.ul.com