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  The NIST Manufacturing Extension Program for Kentucky

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How do They Know They Can Trust You?

Some sources estimate that we have over 30 million companies in the US alone, and almost 10 million of them have revenues over $50,000.  If we said that 99% of those companies are too far away or two small or not making something that you could use in your product offering, that still leaves 100,000 companies.  If you were to spend 1 hour looking into the product offerings of each of those 100,000 companies at 8 hours per day for 5 days per week and 52 weeks per year, you would complete your review after just 48 years.  That would most likely span at least 2 people’s careers.  No company has that kind of time to make decisions about suppliers.

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So how do you make decisions on suppliers?  Perhaps you could make your decision based on what their advertising says, on what a buddy tells you, or on price alone… At the same time companies are choosing suppliers, we are seeing a tremendous increase in product liability lawsuits and product recalls.  These can have devastating impacts on a company.  These can, and do, put companies out of business every day. 

Left to chance, the odds are not good for any company competing in today’s marketplace.  What can be done to lessen the chances of one of these devastating events?  One of the ways that the U.S. Department of Defense uses to mitigate this problem is to limit itself to using suppliers that are accredited by a source or body that is not dependent on the success or profitability of the company being reviewed and accredited.  That is an independent certification board.  Many corporations and industries have moved in this same direction.  In an effort to accommodate efforts to increase and standardize the quality of products within an industry, the last few decades have produced independent certification bodies of many kinds.  One example of this kind of certifying body is The International Organization for Standardization (ISO).  They are responsible for creating standards such as ISO 14001 and  ISO 9001 which set standards for the Quality Management System (QMS) within a company.  Companies that want to be included as suppliers by other companies may voluntarily seek certification by an independent body that their company meets those quality standards. 

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There are many standards and independent certifications available in various industries.  There is the AS 9100 standard set for the Aerospace industry, ISO IEC 17025 set for Laboratories, and the IATF 16949 for the automotive industry.  There is even a different set of standards for companies wishing to supply German automotive manufacturers (VDA 6.3 - Part 3). 

So, if your company supplies products that get put into other products or end products, you will most likely want to become certified by an independent body.  And, if your company produces a product that goes directly to the end-user, you will most likely find it necessary to select suppliers that have a proven track record for quality and that are certified by an independent body regarding the quality of their processes and products.

Now, how do you determine what certifications are appropriate for your company, and how do you start the ball rolling to get certified?  If you are in the Commonwealth of Kentucky, that is where  Advantage Kentucky Alliance can help.  We have consultants and resources that can help you look at this carefully.  We can even walk you through the entire process from understanding the standards and requirements, to creating, implementing and documenting the processes needed to make sure your company meets the standards, to applying for review and obtaining certification. 

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Often times, companies wish to hold their cards very close to the table and keep these efforts very private.  For these companies, AKA can implement training and implementation services specific to just that company.  However, for companies that wish to share the costs of such training and implementation services, AKA has the ability to use public workshops.  AKA has just such a public workshop scheduled for ISO 9001:2015 Internal Auditing scheduled for October 9th and 10th in Frankfort, KY.

To inquire about any of the services that AKA offers with regards to certification of your Quality Management System (i.e. ISO 9001, ISO 14001, AS 9100, IATF 16949, IDA 6.3, or ISO IEC 17025), or about any of our Continuous Improvement, Growth, or Leadership Development services, contact Scott Broughton, Center Director at 814-505-3786, or visit

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