When choosing a supplier, it's important to find one that will be reliable and efficient, but that's not all you need to consider. Whether you're resourcing made-to-print parts or looking to invest in an inventory management program, such as a vendor managed inventory (VMI) program, it's important to known that the supplier has a verifiable process for meeting your requirements. ISO certification should rank highly on your list, as this provides added assurance that your supplier is operating to verifiable standards. In the manufacturing industry, you'll want to find a supplier with ISO 9001:2008 certification, which focuses on quality management. If you work with an ISO-certified supplier you can rest easy knowing they have a solid quality management system in place, so all of your fasteners and other class C components will be delivered on time and ready to use.

What is ISO certification?
The International Organization for Standardization is an independent body that develops voluntary standards to which companies all over the world can adhere. The idea behind these standards is to ensure all companies are operating safely and efficiently so they can deliver quality products and services to meet customer expectations. The uniformity also promotes international trade, as 163 countries adhere to ISO standards. The ISO has a number of standards companies can follow, but most original equipment manufacturers need only concern themselves with the ISO 9000 group, which focuses primarily on quality management, allowing companies to deliver consistent, reliable results whether they are manufacturing parts or providing services to their customers. 

Which certification should you look for?
There are four different standards in the ISO 9000 family. ISO 9000:2005 focuses on basic quality concepts and language, ISO 9004:2009 examines improving efficiency and effectiveness of quality processes, and ISO 19011:2011 is all about auditing the quality management systems companies employ. The standard that applies to OEMs looking for reliable suppliers is ISO 9001:2008, which ensures companies establish and follow quality management guidelines. When companies are compliant with ISO 9001:2008, they can receive certification, which is not available with the other 9000 standards.

What are the criteria for ISO 9001:2008?
This quality standard focuses especially on customer service and continual improvement, so a supplier with the certification can be trusted to deliver consistent and high-quality services no matter which services you enlist. Businesses that seek ISO 9001:2008 certification need to demonstrate that they can not only deliver reliable customer service and products, but also that they are actively reevaluating their current processes and policies to find ways to improve their operations by conducting regular internal audits to monitor the execution of policies and procedures. It's worth noting that ISO certification is voluntary, which means companies that do seek it out are actively making an effort to guarantee high-quality products and services. ISO 9001:2008 involves a lot of higher-level employee compliance as well. This means everyone at the company plays a role in ensuring operations are running smoothly and efficiently to bring clients the best, most affordable service. 

How does the certification benefit your company?
A company willing to invest the time and effort into maintaining its ISO certification is demonstrating its commitment to a quality management system and offering the best services possible in line with international standards. This also means that a supplier's compliance will align with that of parts manufacturers around the world, further increasing the odds that you will receive nothing but high-quality products and services. For instance, implementing a VMI program with an ISO-certified supplier will ensure that the company continuously evaluates their parts manufacturers to meet specific quality requirements on a regular basis.

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