7 / 3 / 2013
The HUBER+SUHNER quality policy acts as a guiding principle and is designed to align all company activities with current and future market requirements. This is demonstrated by both general certifications and various market-specific accreditations, such as ISO/TS 16949 for the automotive industry, IRIS for the railway market and, most recently, EN 9100 for the aerospace sector.
HUBER+SUHNER uses an integrated, global management system to coordinate all its business processes and activities. The system addresses quality, environmental and occupational safety requirements and is built on the six core principles of customer orientation, process management, continuous improvement, employee commitment and awareness, supplier partnerships, and management leadership and support.
ISO certified since 1984
Quality management is well established at HUBER+SUHNER. The company received its first ISO 9001 certificate as early as 1984, and it has long applied for all group companies worldwide. In 1999, the company achieved environmental certification to ISO 14001 in Switzerland and this has since been extended to all production locations across the world. Both certificates were recently renewed for a further three years. “These certifications demonstrate that our processes result in excellent product quality, and that we are capable of maintaining this high level,” explains Anton Bruhin, Management Systems Coach at HUBER+SUHNER. “After all, quality inspires trust in our customers. They know that we will meet their requirements and that they can always rely on us.”
Certificates for automotive, railway, aerospace
The various market-specific certificates held by HUBER+SUHNER provide further evidence of the company’s focus on the needs of individual customers and markets. HUBER+SUHNER’s automotive division in Switzerland was awarded ISO/TS 16949 certification as early as 2001, with Poland following in 2005. This extremely demanding standard harmonises the requirements of the automotive industry worldwide and often serves as a prerequisite for inclusion in the supply chains of automotive manufacturers. And HUBER+SUHNER is also compliant with more recent requirements, becoming one of the first companies to be certified to the International Railway Industry Standard IRIS in 2008. To date, only around 800 of these certificates have been awarded. Cable system production in China has also been IRIS certified since 2012. EN-9100 certification of the Radio Frequency division in August 2012 represented a further milestone. This standard defines the quality requirements for the aerospace and defence industries and is often a mandatory requirement for suppliers to these sectors. It again places a firm focus on customer requirements, safety and professional risk management. This standard in particular helps open new doors to HUBER+SUHNER in highly challenging markets with great potential.
Different markets, different requirements
The high standards required to achieve ISO/TS16949, IRIS or EN 9100 certification are largely comparable. So why have so many different, market-specific certifications if all are ultimately designed to achieve properly regulated processes and assure quality? “The actual requirements within the various markets are very different,” explains Anton Bruhin. “The automotive industry, for example, is focused on high-volume manufacturing. A large degree of automation and guaranteed supply capacity are critical in this regard.” The railway market, however, has a different focus: “The railway industry requires much smaller quantities. Companies are often working on individual projects, although with greater variety. This calls for professional configuration management, which involves entirely different processes. Individual projects may focus on durability, for example, orrequire solutions to problems occurring during development.”And the aerospace industry is subject to yet further Safety is the key consideration in this sector – which is understandable. Absolute reliability is vital and testing is highly intensive. “If a component fails in a satellite, you can’t simply replace it with a new one,” says Bruhin. “Customers must be able to place their full trust in our products.”
High flexibility required
In order to meet the various market requirements and the wide range of associated customer demands, HUBER+SUHNER has to be highly flexible and adaptable. Market-specific certificates provide ideal evidence of the company’s customer-oriented approach. But what are the other advantages of certification? “As an organisation, we also benefit greatly from external audits,” says Bruhin. “They show us where there is potential for improvement or increased efficiency, and identify potential mistakes that we can then avoid.” Certifications also involve a large amount of interdisciplinary collaboration, which is usually supervised by quality managers at the divisions or group companies. “Ultimately, our employees are the most important factor for ensuring continuous improvement. It’s through their efforts that we can advance and keep getting better. As the saying goes: anyone who stops wanting to be better has stopped being good.”