Specialty Pump Manufacturer Achieves ISO Certification with“Flying Colors”
Looking to please a highly technical customer base keenly alert to quality issues, Plano-based MTH Pumps embarked on the ISO 9001:2008 certification journey with IMEC’s help—and found it an ideal way to improve processes, address longstanding issues and build customer confidence.
Founded in 1965, MTH specializes in regenerative turbine pumps that deliver high-pressure, low-volume output, which sets them apart from more typical low-pressure, high-volume products. The company’s pumps were originally designed to feed hot water boilers, but today a majority are found inside “chillers,” cube-shaped devices that attach to a variety of products requiring a consistent level of heating or cooling—everything from MRI machines and bio-medical devices to computer chip manufacturing lines.
Because many of MTH’s customers work in highly technical industries, adherence to strict quality standards is essential. Over the years, the company had worked on developing ISO 9001:2008-compliant systems—but didn’t begin pursuing certification in earnest until 2011, when a major customer made it a requirement of suppliers. Rather than tackling the certification process alone or calling in a previous consultant for help, MTH Pumps President Tim Tremain decided to enlist IMEC’s support.
“We wanted to work with someone who had been through this process not 10 or 20 times, but literally hundreds of times,” Tremain said. “We knew that IMEC had worked with many different companies like ours and had experience with manufacturing-specific issues.”
IMEC started with an analysis of MTH’s current systems, walking through each section of the ISO 9001:2008 standard and evaluating existing processes and documentation. After identifying key problem areas, IMEC and the MTH team—specifically Tremain, the company’s quality manager and other department heads—worked together on a weekly basis over the next six months to streamline processes, update documentation and conduct employee training. Then, an ISO 9001:2008 auditor conducted a preliminary audit, identifying potential issues and suggesting corrective actions.
“IMEC set us on a course to address those issues, really driving through the corrective actions and updating documentation,” Tremain said. “When the auditor came back two months later for the official audit, he passed us with flying colors.”
Achieving ISO 9001:2008 certification helps MTH retain one of its largest customers, and Tremain believes it will increase other customers’ confidence in the company as well. Plus, he’s confident the corrective actions undertaken as part of the certification process will save MTH time and money in the long run. He expects improved internal processes to enhance product quality and anticipates savings in both returns and scrap parts. Even seemingly minor improvements are having a big effect internally.
“We’ve struggled with dimensionally specifying a bearing bore so a machinist can cut and easily measure it, while achieving the proper fit our engineering and quality departments require,” Tremain said. “As part of the corrective action process, we came up with gauging and drawing specs everyone could agree upon. It sounds like a small thing, but it was the 800-pound gorilla in the room that we usually just ended up ignoring, and fixing it will prevent future debates over drawing specs versus functional fit checks.”
Tremain appreciated IMEC’s “calming influence” as his staff worked through compliance issues and credits the organization with helping to bring his entire team together to achieve certification.
“With IMEC, you get a consultant who knows the problems manufacturers face and is full of potential solutions to address them. Any questions we brought up, they had two or three stories about how other companies had handled the same issues in effective ways,” he said. “The cost-to-benefit ratio with IMEC is so much better than with other consultants that don’t specialize in manufacturing.”
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