International organization for standardization (ISO) is an international federation established in 1947 (Hoyle, 145). The main objectives of ISO are to ensure there is cooperation in all spheres including technological, economic, scientific, and intellectual dimensions (. TUV Nord is one of the certification bodies that follow ISO and conformity assessment certification activities to its clients. To be able to know TUV Nord certification activities it’s important to carefully read about ISO certification and conformity assessment.
Background of the TUV Nord organization
The TUV NORD GROUP is an international business group across the globe that deals in the certification and inspection of products and systems. The TUV NORD Company supports its customers with flexible and fast testing according to international standards. To ensure the standards are maintained the company uses local experts. The company has more than 4,300 workers in Germany and its branches in 23 countries. Most of its workers are technical personnel and specialist in engineering.
ISO certification process is divided into six main stages; pre-contract stage, contract stage, pre-audit stage, audit stage, post-audit stage, and maintenance of clients’ or surveillance stage.
The pre-contract stage starts from the period when the certification body in this case TUV Nord receives certification inquiry to the time it receives a quotation of the proposal. During the pre-contract stage, the following activities take place, first inquiry is made that can be done through fax, email, tender, or phone. After the inquiry, a corporate meeting has held a process that is followed by the preparation of Mondays or client information assimilation. When the client information is assimilated or in other words approved, a proposal is prepared then submitted to the client (Wealleans 143 -150).
The contract stage which is the second stage in the certification process involves the signing of a contract with the client then forwarding the signed contract to the certification operation department. The clients’ contract details are entered into a database then the contract is reviewed. The clients are also given all the necessary information regarding billing activity at this stage.
The third certification process involves scheduling, planning, and preparing the groundwork for the auditing process. After the client confirms the auditing date ATEA preparations are made as per the TUV Nord procedures mainly by sending HO for verification purposes. After the verification of ATEA, it’s forwarded to Germany for approval. The monitoring logs are then forwarded together with other clients’ documents to auditors who in turn forward pre-audit documents to the client.
The fourth stage is a very crucial stage since it’s the stage when auditing is executed. After the audit is conducted in the required phases, an audit report is prepared based on TUV ME auditors’ set parameters.
The fifth stage called the post-audit stage involves the issuing of the auditing report to the client followed by uploading all logs and client database files and setting of surveillance dates. The audited documents are taken to Germany for approval then certification drafts are sent to the client.
The final stage in the certification process involves conducting surveillance audits. If the client does not meet several requirements such as if the audit is not conducted within the stipulated period, the clients’ audit is suspended. If the client meets all the surveillance auditing requirements, the client’s database is updated. Updating of a clients database has very important aspects especially in the market sector since the clients’ products begin to win customers confidence as being safe and quality for use hence increasing the clients’ profits. Some of the aspects that are checked during the surveillance-planned if the client has well planned improving strategies and if the clients’ organization has been experiencing gradual growth since its certification.
Some of the certification standards offered by TUV Nord include ISO 9001:2008 a quality certification, ISO 14001:2004, and environmental certification. OHSAS 18001:2007 occupational health and safety certificate, ISO 27001:2006 information security certificate, and ISO 22000:2005 food safety certificate among others (National Research Council, 134).
ISO 9001:2008 is one of the certification activities of TUV Nord. Before being awarded this ISO certification, clients are exposed to awareness training that is meant to enlighten the delicates on concepts and historic evolution of quality. The clients are given a brief overview of the quality management system and also trained about all the requirements for ISO 9001:2008 and the benefits of having ISO 9001:2001.
The ISO definition of quality is a set of characteristics that meets all the requirements. For clients to be able to get Quality ISO certification, all their planned and systematic activities should meet all quality requirements whether in terms of external quality assurance or in internal quality assurance. ISO 9001; 2008 has been developed based on different quality management principles namely, leadership, customer focus, process approach, people involvement, system approach, factual approach to decision making, and mutually beneficial supplier relationships. To be awarded TUV Nord quality certification clients should prove that they have their quality standards have managed to win the confidence of its customers. In addition, the clients should be able to meet their customers need within the shortest required time and also to easily identify the customer’s needs to be met. A quality management system which is a key factor that is used in ISO quality certification should be directly proportional to customer satisfaction and the firms’ profit or positive development. A good management system according to TUV Nord reduces deficiencies while increasing customer satisfaction and hence translating to the organization’s growth in terms of profit and production processes.
Other considerations that TUV Nard considers before giving its clients quality certification are if they show uniformity of process are confident in what they do and if they show a higher level of clarity and transparency.
Before awarding its clients with ISO 9001:2008 certification TUV Nord has to ensure that the following work aspects are fulfilled by the clients. The inputs should be right which is achieved through employing the use of qualified people, right facilities, correct materials, using conformity assessed suppliers in getting the required materials, and proven methods. The transformation process should also be persistently oriented resulting in the achievement of the desired results where quality products are services are produced hence resulting in customer satisfaction (Hoyle 45 -125).
For institutions to successfully achieve a TUV Nord certification they need to employ the system approach in which the output of one process results in the input of another process or input. After being certified the clients should ensure they show continued improvement of the organizational overall performance. This is monitored by the TUV Nord auditing body through several surveillance audits (Wallace, 92). The improvement attained by an organization is normally a planned activity. The quality management process should be based on a factual decision-making approach. This approach implies that effective decisions are due to data and information analysis. To be able to continue experiencing organizational growth, there should be a mutual benefit relationship between the organization and its suppliers.
Conformity assessment refers to checking if products, services, processes, or even materials meet the required standards and regulations. Conformity assessment benefits service providers, manufactures, customers and is one of the key factors for supporting sustainable organization development. When products services or even materials are able to conform to international standards they gain clients’ confidence and can easily enter the world markets. ISO standards are used as a guide in conformation assessment. According to ISO standards, conformity assessment refers to good practices or processes used in checking if all the set requirements are met.
Confirmation assessment is very necessary for the improvement and development of organizations. After conformity assessment is conducted, an organization easily wins the confidence of its customers since its customers or users are assured it’s of good quality, safe, reliability and economical.
Conformity assessment gives benefits to all persons involved in the business starting from the manufacturers to consumers and even government regulators. When manufacturers have their products certified using ISO standards they are able to distinguish themselves from other less sound suppliers (Luis, 78). The manufacturers whose products have been assessed using ISO international standards do not need to be worried about poor markets when governments put strict measures especially to health matters since at such times the government requires all manufacturers to have their products certified.
Customers also benefit from conformity assessment since the products they purchase or use are of high quality. The customers’ can have confidence on such products since they are assured of their quality and safety standards.
When an organization obtains a conformity assessment ISO certificate it can easily be able to break trade barriers. Some of the conformation assessment activities conducted by TUV Nard include sample testing, process evaluation, inspection, and suppliers’ conformity to the set standards.
TUV Nord certification activities conform to the set ISO and conformity assessment standards. Hence clients conducting this organization for certification activities can be rest assured that their organization will be assessed based on the set ISO standards using local experts (Hutchins, 227).
National Research Council. Standards, conformity assessment, and trade into the 21st century. Publisher National Academies. 1995. 238 pages
Hoyle, David. ISO 9000 quality systems handbookEdition5,Butterworth-Heinemann publishers. 2006. 686 pages.
Hutchins, Greg. ISO 9000: a comprehensive guide to registration, audit guidelines and successful certification John Wiley and Sons publishers, 1997.259 pages.
Luis, Guasch. Quality systems and standards for a competitive edge. World Bank Publications. 2007. 289 pages.
Wealleans, David. The quality audit for ISO 9001:2000: a practical guide. Gower Publishing, Ltd., 2005. 299 pages.