QUALITY IS THE TOP PRIORITY
Ensuring SIA’s Product Quality Based on International Standard
From concept, to design, to actual product development, Subaru of Indiana Automotive, Inc. is focused on delivering the highest quality products to our existing and new customers. It takes a complex set of processes, continued attention to detail, and a highly trained and energized workforce to manufacturer Subaru’s that achieve 5-star IIHS crash test rating on every Subaru model! This does not happen by accident or chance; it is the result of implementing a stringent quality management system entitled ISO 9001, an International Standard containing a multitude of requirements that guide SIA on developing a “customer focused” quality system. The end result of effective implementation of the ISO 9001 quality management system is an organizational culture of continual improvement.
Needless to say, our quality management journey did not happen overnight; in fact this journey will never end, nor should it. New products, changes to existing products, production volume increases (and decreases)…these are just a few examples of activities that occur on a regular basis, and the results of these (and many more) lead us to review, change, and update various pieces of our quality management system when they occur. But what lead us to where we are today?
SIA’s Quality Management System journey began in the late 1980’s, but it was a loosely based system that was really not established using any concrete structure. If we use the example of a jigsaw puzzle, ours was missing several pieces, and the pieces that we had, did not always fit as they should. A lot of our business processes at that time were based on departmental activities, and even within departments, processes were done differently. What occurred in one business area did not always support the activities within another. Even though we stated production at SIA in 1989 we were still struggling with the ability to implement a quality “business culture” that put the whole organization on the same page, all working towards the same common goals.
Making its initial release in 19871, and gaining traction in the early 1990’s, the ISO9001 Quality Management Standard was a system that drove “standardization” within the organization by developing specific procedures and documents that defined the organizations “way of doing business”. This early system was built on a simple platform: “Say what you do, and do what you say”. For organizations such as SIA, that really did not have a solid quality platform, this early concept of a “management system” began the process of aligning the organizations “quality” work activities.
The concept of using documented procedures was not totally new for areas of SIA that were responsible for actual product development, manufacturing and/or assembly; but in non-traditional manufacturing areas such as finance, purchasing, information technology, human resources, and the like, this was unheard of. Yet these functions also are vital in ensuring high quality vehicles are delivered to our customers. So a new culture was started at SIA. We learned, stumbled (many times), fixed, learned, improved, and kept moving forward. With the vision and leadership of SIA at that time, SIA was recognized as the 1st North American automotive manufacturer to receive ISO 9001 certification. Certification is recognition by a third-party registration agency that our quality management system effectively meets the defined requirements of the ISO 9001 standard. This external assessment is a vital process of putting the “stamp of approval” on our quality management system by experts outside our organization. SIA achieved certification to the ISO 9001 requirements in 1994, and are required to have, and pass, audits each year.
Today our quality management system is infiltrated into our daily work structure, providing focus on the quality of all business processes, the expected outcome, and the need to continually improve the system to benefit the overall growth of SIA and most important of all, met our customers’ expectations. To provide this direction the SIA President in 1994 developed the SIA Quality Policy with the bold statement: Quality is the Top Priority. The SIA Quality Policy is the cornerstone of defining SIA’s commitments of its quality expectations. This policy is displayed throughout our facility as a reminder to our Associates, and visitors, of SIA’s commitment to manufacturing the highest quality vehicles for our customers. For this statement to be one of truth for our organization, each Associate must understand how their job activities support it. It has to be more than just words – it requires commitment each and every work day.
At SIA, our quality is what makes a Subaru a Subaru!
For additional information on SIA’s quality management system, please contact Brent Lank at firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Updating of the ISO 9001 requirements, and reissuance of the ISO 9001 standard, occurred in 2000 and again in 2008