We’re probably all familiar with the ISO certification that many facilities and products feature, but what exactly does this number represent, and where does it come from? Among the most common certifications is ISO 9001, also represented as ISO 9001:2015. Let’s take a look at where this abbreviation comes from and what it indicates about a company or product.
First of all, ISO stands for the International Organization of Standards (Yeah, the abbreviation is out of order. Confusing, I know). This group is an international body responsible for standard setting and is composed of representatives of national standards organizations from all over the world. The ISO was founded in 1947 following World War II to promote proprietary and industrial standards around the world, thus facilitating trade and commerce between countries.
The reason for the confusing abbreviation is that, as an international governing body, its member countries use many different languages. In English, the abbreviation would be IOS, in French, OIN, and so on. To have a more representative name, the founders decided to use IOS, from the Greek word isos, meaning equal, to be their moniker.
The body has its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Its standards are currently recognized in a whopping 162 countries around the world. According to its website, the ISO mission is to bring “together experts to share knowledge and develop voluntary, consensus-based, market relevant International Standards that support innovation and provide solutions to global challenges.”
What that means is that this is the body that makes international trade possible. If a company you are dealing with in China, or Argentina, or Canada, has an ISO certification, that gives you a baseline understanding of its processes and safety standards, letting you know that you can trust them to be reliable. In our increasingly globalized society, it’s more important than ever that manufacturers be able to purchase from, partner with, and ship to companies, partners, investors, and customers around the world.
What Do The ISO Numbers Mean?
Did you know that the ISO has published almost 22,000 international standards that cover all manner of technology and manufacturing? Keeping track of so many different standards can obviously be very complicated. The ISO numbering system goes all the way from ISO 1 to ISO 99999. Not all of these numbers are in use obviously, but it allows for the continued growth of the standards for the foreseeable future.
It’s not possible to look at a number and know exactly what standard it refers to without some prior knowledge of the numbering system. But in general, standards are grouped by number, so those specifications pertaining to a single industry will have similar numbers. For instance, standards for geographic information systems will all be found in the 191xx range.
Also of note, when a date is appended to the number, this indicates the year that the specific formulation of the standard was released. So, the Information interchange – Representation of local time differentials standards, labelled ISO 8601:1988, is the replacement standard for the original ISO 8601, which was first formulated in 1978. In some cases, the guidelines are divided into multiple parts, in which case a –1, -2, -3 will be added for each section.
What are the Important Aspects of ISO?
Whether it’s weights and measurements, or numbering systems for credit and bankcards, having an agreed upon standard that’s the same in every country obviously has many benefits. ISO allows consumers to be confident that they are purchasing products that are safe and reliable. Areas affected by ISO include road safety, toy safety, and medical safety.
It might seem like these rules only have applications for large corporations and government organizations, but even more small- and medium-sized businesses are affected by them. ISO offers international standards on crucial things like air, water and soil quality, the emissions of gases and radiation, and other environmental issues.
Manufacturers need to think about ISO certification for a number of reasons. It makes your business more competitive by giving you the ability to sell your products globally and to penetrate new markets. You can sell your products for a higher price by touting the ISO certification as a signifier of compatibility, quality, and safety. It also helps reduce research and prototyping costs, because by following the guidelines provided by ISO, it allows you to make better use of your resources.
No matter what category of ISO applies to your business, the guidelines were formulated by experts in your field. The standards that are in effect were identified as addressing real market needs and were developed with all stakeholders in mind.
What is ISO 9001?
The ISO 9000 family of standards deals with quality management systems that have been formulated to help make sure that companies of all kinds and in geographies around the world are able to meet all statutory and regulatory requirements. Specifically, ISO 9000 itself concerns the general fundamentals of quality management systems and lays out seven quality management principles. Be warned: ISO does not offer certification in ISO 9000 and you should be suspicious of any company claims to have been so certified. In contrast, it is actually ISO 9001 that handles the requirements that organizations need to fulfill.
The 9001 standard was designed with quality management principles in mind, including a strong focus on the customer, management motivations, a process approach, and continual improvement. It is meant to ensure that customers receive consistently good products and services.
The areas that 9001 covers include the following:
- The documented information, planning, and process interactions that are required for a quality management system;
- How to best manage human resources and the work environment;
- Product realization
- How to measure, analyze, and improve the quality management system.
Clinton Aluminum is proud to be ISO 9001:2015 certified, yet another example of our commitment to being a provider of quality, value-added products and services to our clients everywhere. It is just one more reason why we are recognized as the Midwest’s leading supplier of aluminum and stainless steel products. Contact a member of our knowledgeable and helpful staff today to learn more about how we can help you find the right material for the job.