One of the main objectives of an ISO 9001 management system is “continuous improvement”; however, the standard ISO 9001 provides little information on how organizations can reach and maintain it. In this specific aspect is where a lean system will provide the biggest benefit to any quality management system. Lean systems require the implementation of different methodologies that will provide organization with the tools to continuously improve their processes and systems.

Lean manufacturing is characterized for aiming to reduce all the unnecessary in order to use a minimum amount of resources in every aspect of a system, especially on: human effort, manufacturing and storage space, and time.

This tool helps to eliminate all operations that do not add value to products, services and processes, increasing the value of each action and eliminating what is not required. By reducing waste and improving processes, lean manufacturing gives organizations the tool to survive in a global market that demands higher quality, faster delivery and an increase on customer satisfaction.

Some of the most common methodologies used in a lean system are 5S, Value Stream Mapping (VSM), Kanban, Key Performance Indicators (KPI), Shadow boards, Poka-yoke and many others. The implementation of these methodologies can bring many benefits to an ISO 9001 quality management system, such as:

  • Reduction in production costs.
  • Inventory reduction.
  • Reduction on delivery time (lead time).
  • Improved quality.
  • Decrease in labor.
  • Greater  equipment efficiency.
  • Waste reduction.
  • Reduction of overproduction.
  • Decrease on delays.
  • More efficient transport.

The requirements of ISO 9001 have many common aspects with lean production systems, especially in its design and mode of operation, suggesting a high potential for integration.

The integration of both systems will facilitate the implementation of a continuous improvement philosophy based on a systematic elimination of all types of waste, the respect and consideration of all employees and the continuous improvement of productivity and quality. This will enable organizations to reduce costs, improve processes and eliminate waste in order to increase customer satisfaction.

Furthermore, lean systems requires the ability to manage raw materials and components in small batches, which requires supply policies based on stable relationships with suppliers.

There are many organizations that are considering to integrate a lean system into their ISO 9001 management system. This is being done in a pursue to identify and reduce waste from their processes, reach an overall process that flows smoothly and ensure that the organization’s resources are effectively used to meet or exceed customer satisfaction.

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