The ISO 9000 series of standards is generic in scope. By design, the series can be tailored to fit any organisation’s needs, whether it is large or small, a manufacturer or a service organisation. It can be applied to construction, engineering, healthcare, legal and other professional services as well as the manufacturing of anything from nuts and bolts to spacecraft. Its purpose is to unify quality terms and definitions used by industrialised nations and use those terms to demonstrate a supplier’s capability of controlling its processes. In simplified terms, the standards require an organisation to say what it is doing to ensure quality, then do what it says and finally document or prove that it has done what it said.
The three standards of the series are described briefly below:
Quality Management Systems (QMS) fundamentals and vocabulary discusses the fundamental concepts related to the QMS and provides the terminology used in the other two standards.
QMS requirements are the standard used for registration by demonstrating conformity of the QMS to customers, regulator and the organisation’s own requirements.
QMS guidelines for performance improvement provide guidelines that an organisation can use to establish a QMS focused on improving performance.
The ISO 9000 system is designed as a simple system that could be used by any industry. Other systems have been developed that are specific to a particular industry such as automotive or aerospace. These systems use the ISO 9001 as the basic framework and modify it to their needs. There are currently three other quality systems in place– AS9100, ISO/TS 16949 and TL 9000.
One of the problems with sector-specific standards is the need for suppliers with customers in different industries to set up quality systems to meet each sector’s requirements. For example, a packaging supplier that services the aerospace, automobile and telecommunications industries would need to set up its system to accommodate not only ISO 9001 but three other standards. In addition, the Registration Accreditation Board (RAB) points out that sector-specific standards have created a need for specialised auditors and training courses. On the positive side, the standardisation of requirements beyond ISO 9001 makes compliance by key suppliers and implementation by major customers much easier.
This aerospace industry quality system was officially released by the Society of Automotive Engineers in May 1997. Its development and release represent the first attempt to unify the requirements of NASA, DOD and FAA while satisfying the aerospace industry’s business needs. In March 2001, the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) aligned AS9100 with ISO 9001:2000. Industry-specific interpretations and methodologies are identified in italics and bold type. These additions are accepted aerospace approaches to quality practices and general requirements. Aerospace organisations in Europe, Japan and the US will certify registrars and auditors.