Kopp Welding & Laser Technology
Kopp’s customers’ customers – large, global manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive and medical industries – have begun to require quality certification from suppliers. Company leaders decided it was time to put a quality management system in place, but felt ISO 9001 standards were overly complicated for their small firm. Instead, they decided to pursue a certification for welding process quality, ISO 3834. A fellow Tooling & Manufacturing Association (TMA) member recommended IMEC for assistance.
First, IMEC brought in DOT Quality Services, a certification body that specializes in metals manufacturing and welding, to provide ISO 3834 requirements training. Then, IMEC conducted a gap assessment to review Kopp’s current processes, practices, documentation and quality records. Because 95% of the company’s work is custom, IMEC helped Kopp focus on the general procedures required, then write specific procedures for repetitive tasks. DOT Quality Services conducted a pre-assessment to ensure the company was on track and including all required elements. Kopp had its official audit in October 2014 and, after addressing nonconformance from the audit, received ISO 3834 certification in January 2015.
- Successfully certified to ISO 3834-4 quality requirements for welding international standard
- Standardized existing & created new processes to consistently meet customer specs
- Differentiated the company from other welding services suppliers
Custom Welding Company Benefits from Custom Quality Management System
With his customers’ customers beginning to require quality certification from their suppliers, Walt Kopp knew it was time for his Elk Grove Village-based welding and laser technology company to put a quality management system in place. ISO 9001 standards, however, seemed overly complicated for the five-employee firm.
“We’re a small job shop, which means I do all the pricing, scheduling, marketing, etc.,” Kopp says. “ISO 9001 is really only beneficial when you have multiple layers of management. I wanted to find something that made sense for the type of company we are.”
That’s when Kopp came across an article about a production welding company in Tennesee that had recently pursued an international certification specifically for welding process quality, ISO 3834. He mentioned it to a fellow Tooling & Manufacturing Association (TMA) member, who suggested he reach out to IMEC for assistance. IMEC in turn introduced Kopp to DOT Quality Services, a Chicago-based certification body. DOTQS is accredited by ANSI (the American National Standards Institute) to grant certification this standard worldwide.
The project kicked off with DOT Quality Services providing publicly offered ISO 3834 requirement training. Then, IMEC conducted a gap assessment to review Kopp Welding & Laser Technology’s current processes, practices, documentation and quality records. The goal was to standardize existing processes and put new processes in place where necessary – all without “over-processing.”
“About 95 percent of what we do is custom. If we wrote a process for every job, we’d bury ourselves,” Kopp says. “We had to find middle ground – that was the journey. IMEC helped us narrow it down to the general procedures we needed, then write specific procedures for repetitive tasks.”
The process took some time, with IMEC helping Kopp get the process-writing started, and DOT Quality Services providing a pre-assessment to ensure the company was on track and including all the required elements. Kopp Welding & Laser Technology had its certification audit in October 2014 and, after addressing non-conformances from the audit, received its ISO 3834-4 certification in January 2015. Kopp believes his company is already reaping the benefits.
“It enables us to meet customer specs consistently,” he says. “Everyone’s on the same page, and we’re all clear on instructions from the get-go.”
DOT Quality Services President Anna Petroski commented: “Although the ISO 3834 standards present the opportunity to customize a welding process quality management system. This was perfect for his small business organization.
Walt met the additional requirements of the DOTQS program which required him to also meet the requirements of applicable American Welding Society welding codes and standard industry practices. The documentation that now represents his work is easily recognizable to welding industry professionals representing his current, and most important future customers with more critical welding quality requirements.”
Kopp says convincing his employees – some of whom have been with the company for more than 20 years – to get on board with ISO 3834 wasn’t difficult.
“They know we want to keep growing and get bigger, and they understand that this type of quality certification is becoming more and more important to our customers’ customers – large, global manufacturers in the aerospace, automotive and medical industries,” he says. “Proactively putting a quality management system in place sets us apart from our competitors. It shows our customers that we’ve examined our procedures and that we follow them consistently.”
Kopp also credits IMEC with helping him get started and keep the process moving.
There’s no way I could have done it without IMEC’s help. I’d still be writing procedures today,” he says. “None of this was cookie-cutter. There weren’t any templates to follow. Everything was written from scratch.”
“Proactively putting a quality management system in place sets us apart from our competitors. It shows our customers that we’ve examined our procedures and that we follow them consistently. There’s no way I could have done it without IMEC’s help. I’d still be writing procedures today.”
– Walt Kopp, Owner