International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a Geneva based, non-government organization that establishes standards for industrial applications such as: products, services, materials and systems. If an organization is ISO certified, their processes comply and adhere to international standards, or their products and services match the established requirements. This gives the organization a good and reliable reputation for entering foreign markets. It brings a certain level of transparency into the manufacturing system and ensures that the output quality is acceptable. The ISO was founded in 1947 and the standards the group sets are made to ensure safe and efficient manufacturing of products and the processes that are used.
There are two major families of ISO; ISO 9000 and ISO 14000. ISO 9000 covers the quality aspects of the manufactured product, service and management systems that are used. ISO 14000 covers the environmental aspects, which involves protecting the environment against harmful effluents and other activities. Both of these groups of standards are considered to generic standards and they can be applied to the products and services of any type of business and company.
Most standards that are set out by the ISO are specific to a particular product, material, or process, as well as being specific a type of industry. ISO standards are voluntary and do not have to be followed, but when they are adhered to it ensures that there is consistency in the different products and services throughout the world. This means that a product that is made in Thailand will be built by the same standards as the same product that is made in the US. Certification of ISO standards doesn’t guarantee the quality of a product or environmental compliance however.
There are many standards in these families for the vast number of products and services in existence today. ISO certification involves first identifying the standard to which your product belongs, studying the standards that are prescribed, creating a task force and then implementing the standards. If the standards are met, the company is issued a written ISO certificate which is recognized throughout the world.
In today’s competitive world of business, it always helps to be ISO certified as your customers and clients know that your processes and products are up to world standards.