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The F.P. Horak Co.--The Grand Finale

April 1998
Editor's Note: This is the last installment in the monthly series on The F.P. Horak Co. and its quest for ISO 9002 registration.

The opening meeting began as most meetings do—with introductions, handshakes and polite (albeit brief) conversation. However, the friendly atmosphere belied the underlying tension.

It was Tuesday, Feb. 24, 8 a.m. Two men—two auditors—had come to The F.P. Horak Co. in Bay City, MI, to measure its quality system.

As the auditors spoke during the opening meeting, the Horak executives in attendance listened with rapt attention. Their quest for ISO 9002 culminated in this moment. Months of preparation were about to pay off. Or fail.

The auditors announced their intentions, discussed the ISO 9002 standard, and defined the scope of the registration. "Our scope was for all graphically produced products at The F.P. Horak Co., which entails commercial, web and digital printing," says Kevin Krzyminski, Horak's quality assurance manager.

The meeting only took 20 minutes. The auditors didn't have time for long speeches. These two representatives from the registrar had to examine all three Horak printing divisions—and they had two days to do it.

After planning an efficient course of action, the auditors decided to spend four to five hours in each division. One auditor concentrated on the shop floor, while his partner stuck to the offices.

Horak's digital division runs one shift, the commercial division runs two shifts, and the web division runs three. The auditors checked in all of them. On Wednesday, the auditors even started their day at 6 a.m. so they could question the third-shift web press operators getting ready to clock out.

As the auditors moved meticulously through Horak's facility, they kept a watchful eye out for major non-conformances, the infractions that can cost a company its ISO certificate. They also searched for minor non-conformances.

Relatively harmless alone, a minor does its damage in numbers. Specifically, three minors within a single element add up to one major.

Did the auditors find any majors?

No.

Did Horak receive ISO 9002 registration?

Yes.

After completing their thorough investigation, the auditors wasted no time recommending Horak to the RAB (registrar accreditation board), which, in turn, sent Horak a ISO 9002 certificate documenting the company's achievement.

As part of the recommendation process, the auditors formally reported their findings for the RAB to review and reject or accept. Based on the auditors' positive comments, the RAB had no reason to refuse Horak certification.

Not that Horak's performance was completely flawless. The auditors did find four minor non-conformances in four separate elements.

The first minor was in element 4.13 (control of non-conforming product). Horak's written procedures indicated that the company would mark two separate zones with colored tape—red tape for non-conforming products, orange for scrap. However, Horak only put the red tape down. The company only planned on setting up the scrap area if it became necessary.

The auditors saw things differently. They interpreted Horak's procedures as meaning that red and orange markings must appear on the floor. The missing orange tape resulted in a minor.

The auditors also uncovered a problem in element 4.11 (control of inspection, measuring and test equipment). They found a densitometer that wasn't calibrated. Not a serious issue, but enough for a minor.

The third minor came from element 4.18 (training). The auditors believed that documentation was lacking in this area.

When Horak drafts a new document into the quality system, Krzyminski trains employees personally. He visits the people whom the new document affects and explains the change.

The auditors argued that this method was insufficient. They wanted documentation proving that training took place—a record that workers would sign after Krzyminski had talked to them.

The auditors located the final minor non-conformance in element 4.16 (quality records). They found a mistake in a record called the production order change notice.

"I had issued an updated revision of a document, and there was a record that supported it," Krzyminski explains. "I indicated the name of the record, but I forgot to put in there where it was maintained and how long we kept it."

Of the four minors, Horak was able to correct—or "close out"—one before the auditors even left. To satisfy the documented procedures for non-conforming product, Horak simply slapped down some orange tape to mark off the scrap area.

Horak should be able to correct the other three minors just as easily. For element 4.11, Krzyminski will calibrate the densitometer, write a procedure on how it's calibrated, then make sure it remains calibrated. To conform with element 4.18, Krzyminski will carry a "sign-off" sheet with him when he does one-on-one training; when he finishes talking to people, they'll sign the sheet, creating an official record of the event.

Finally, to fix 4.16, Krzyminski will add documentation specifying where Horak maintains the production order change notice and for how long, then reissue the revised document.

When the auditors return in September for the surveillance audit—an audit, conducted every six months, that verifies Horak is living up to the ISO standards—they'll check on these three minors. Before they get a chance to do that, however, Horak's internal auditors will check the company themselves. Horak's plan is to conduct internal audits in between the surveillance audits.

"Between me and them, there will be some kind of auditing activity going on every three months," Krzyminski says.

This commitment should ensure that customers get the best benefits from Horak's ISO-certified quality system. "Now that we know we have a good system in place, we're going to drive our productivity up and drive our spoilage numbers down," Krzyminski concludes.

—Jerry Janda
 

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