When a major customer pressured Nova Films & Foils, Inc. to implement a formal quality management system on a short deadline, management reached out to MAGNET to make it happen
“At the beginning, I really thought achieving ISO 9001 certification was just going to be a daunting task,” says Rick Huskey, managing director of Nova Films & Foils, Inc. based in Bedford, Ohio. “I thought it was going to be like swallowing an elephant!”
Instead, with the assistance of MAGNET Senior Consultant Dennis Rosa, Nova Films’ staff aggressively tackled each step of the certification process, mapping 18 different processes.
Within six months of kicking off the project in mid-January 2012, Nova Films was ready to receive an ISO auditor and ace the inspection. By September, they could proudly display their ISO Certification plaque in their front lobby.
About Nova Films & Foils, Inc.
Huskey helms a small and nimble company that manufactures a diverse line of pressure-sensitive tape, transfer adhesives and foil tapes. They also supply services to other manufacturers like toll coating, laminating and slitting.
The company has been growing steadily since being bought by an investment group in 2001. Huskey handles sales, R&D and new product development for a wide variety of industrial clients. His colleague, Plant Manager Larry Meinen, handles day-to-day operations and supply chain issues. The two men met in 2002 when both worked at the Northeast Ohio headquarters of diversified manufacturer Avery Dennison.
At Avery and other large manufacturers, each man had a chance to experience the implementation of major lean and six sigma projects. So neither was a stranger to lean principles and methods.
However, Nova Films’ business had evolved over more than 20 years before the new investors recapitalized the business in 2001, adding and upgrading equipment. Now, with a diverse line of products and services, Huskey and Meinen found themselves facing pressure from a major customer to become ISO certified.
A decision to “do it right”
Huskey recalls that they interviewed a couple of consultants who were willing to help them just “check the boxes” to achieve certification.
“We said, ‘No, that’s not us,'” recalls Huskey. “That’s not our style. If we’re going to do something, we want the benefit.”
His colleague Meinen agrees.
“Instead of just promising to ‘get us certified,’ Dennis said, ‘I’ll give you the process to get certified,'” says Meinen. “We liked that approach. We really wanted to put a process in place that’s going to benefit us on a day-to-day basis. It just makes sense.”
“When we first met with them, they said they needed to be certified within six months,” recalls Rosa with amusement. “Normally we’d take at least nine months or a year. Because of their small size (less than 15 employees), we realized they probably could move that fast.”
In short order, Rosa was elbow-deep in flow charting Nova Films’ existing processes—all 18 of them.
The analysis process
By first mapping the company’s existing processes, then identifying known gaps, Rosa gains a detailed picture of the company’s current state.
“I can’t do a good system for a client unless I know what they’re doing. So I flow the current state with the help of the company’s own employees. I also need to gauge where a company’s customer complaints are coming from and documentation on customer satisfaction,” Rosa says.
Then, calling on dozens of years of experience implementing world-class QM systems, he helps clients tweak and adjust their process flows/procedures to an “improved future state” that is compliant with the ISO 9001 QMS requirements.
Finally, Rosa helps create the corresponding documentation such as the quality manual.
The result is an ISO-compliant system that is an evolution of the company’s existing environment, rather than something alien simply imposed over the old processes.
“This way, our clients can meet their quality goals without completely starting from scratch,” says Rosa.
The audit process
Nova, worked with a resource identified through MAGNET’s deep network of industrial experts to perform their Internal audits. Rosa, prepared Nova for the QMS Management Review Process, including the establishment of quality/business objectives. After finishing a thorough management review, Nova prepared for the Stage 1 and Stage 2 assessments. These assessments went smoothly, with only a few minor findings
Sometimes gaps are pretty easy to identify and fix. For example, Nova’s raw materials arrive on huge rolls, often wrapped in heavy plastic. When the plastic is removed, operators are supposed to make sure any identifying tags get transferred from the plastic to the original roll. As a result of one of the preparatory audits, Huskey and Meinen discovered one operator was neglecting to do this consistently.
“These are minor things,” admits Rosa. “But our goal is to have no nonconformances.”
As part of Nova Films’ dedication to continuous improvement, even before it undertook ISO certification, management had created an ambitious competency matrix that helps them identify and prioritize training goals for individual employees.
As part of the quality project, Huskey created “Communications Alley” in a much-travelled corridor next to the production floor. Besides a prominent banner displaying the company’s quality commitment statement, employees can quickly view quality stats, production goals and the competency matrix.
By July, Nova Films & Foils was ready for its official audit. In early September, just eight months after kick-off, it received ISO 9001:2008 certification.
Huskey estimates that certification will help Nova Films grow its business by 7-10% annually. And he knows that without certification, he would have lost that major client, and with it at least 10% of sales.
“We really liked Dennis; we like that he’s local and we think he’s our kind of person,” Huskey says.
“Certification enhances our industry reputation,” observes Meinen. “We’re already known for really quick service and reliability. This is why we continued to grow during the recession even though we’re in a mature industry. If our certifications wins us some more major customers, we may need to invest in another coating line.”
“This was a great experience for me. MAGNET’s process took what looks like a very daunting and confusing task and made it do-able. Flow charting our 18 processes just made it real for me. It gave me a model of the way we work that helps me understand it better than when I worked for large companies that were already certified.”
—Rick Huskey, General Manager, Nova Films & Foils, Inc.