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Pipes & Tubes — for a quality life!

By RiyaZ Chinoy
Jan 15 - 21, 2001

International Industries Limited, is the largest manufacturer of GI Pipe and cold rolled tubing in Pakistan. In 1999-2000, 75,000 tons of steel was processed. Twenty-two (22%) of the company's sales were exported and the annual turnover was Rs. 2.3 billion in 1999-2000.

The company was certified by ISO 9001:1994 in 1997 and recently has also been certified by ISO 9001:2000, ISO 14001:1996 and API SPEC Ql:2000.

IIL and ISO Certification

IIL started working towards ISO-9001 in January 1996, at a time when the company had no export sales. The sole objective became self-improvement, after success of which, two years later the company attained its certification. Eight months later the company received ISO-14001 and ISO 9001:2000.

The company believes its system to be as good and user-friendly as the amount of time and effort put into it. ISO is a top-down system and it can only work effectively as long as the top management is committed to make it work. For this reason the company has linked timely closure of corrective Action Requests (CARS) and raising Preventive Action Requests (PARS) as part of the annual performance appraisal of all management staff. ISO papers initially had low priority in the company's work place and documents would get misplaced with others. The company has now adopted the policy of using yellow pages for all ISO 9001 documentation and Green papers for all ISO 14001 documentation.

In Europe, the developed world, where IIL has a big export market, customers are more interested in knowing who the certification body is rather than just having a ISO 9001certification. Europeans accept only 6 certification bodies and BVQI, who has certified IIL, happens to be one of them.

Hurdles in the system

Whenever we find that there are repeated failures of outstanding issues we try and accommodate the same in our quality system by adding work instructions or procedures and modifying work instructions or procedures. By doing this we are not only documenting the procedures but also allowing this area to be covered in the company's internal audits.

A few problems associated with the system are:

• Making people remember to do what is stated and state what they do.

• Getting people to work with the system and not for the system.

• Measuring advantages/savings achieved due to implementation of the system.

Initially when the company was certified, the number of customer complaints went up. This was due to increased customer confidence. Now after two years of certification, the number of complaints has decreased even with increased sales.

Benefits of ISO-9001 certification

By adopting ISO-9001 and ISO-14001 as our quality & environmental management systems, IIL has gained many advantages. Some of these include:

• Highest ever production on finished goods, with the same machines

• Improvement in planning, which has allowed the company to accept export orders for non-standard products with shorter lead-time.

• Increased confidence from shareholders and market reputation as a quality conscious company

• Access to a wider geographic market by complying with a globally recognized standard, resulting in sales to 19 countries in 5 continents.

• Highest ever export sales in 1999-2000 of almost $8 million and award of the FPCCI Export Merit Trophy for Non-traditional items.

ISO 9001:2000 Certification

IIL was certified to this new standard in July last year, thus becoming the first company in Pakistan to be certified to this new standard.

There were fewer problems in adopting this system as ISO-9001/1994 had developed the company's quality concerns. The company was already assigning quality objectives to all management functions as part of the performance appraisal. Customer satisfaction is also being measured in addition to dis-satisfaction but the system needed some refinement. A new form was devised for the industrial users and retailers.

The entire ISO-9001 and ISO-14001 department consists of one full time mechanical engineer and computer. The efficiency of the ISO-9001 department by recording how much extra time we spend on regularizing and correcting our documentation in one week prior to our external audit.

Production analysis: International Industries Limited has recently been awarded the certificate for its standardized performance from the American Petroleum Industries (API). This certificate is another feather in the company's cap.

Next time, when we ride our bicycles, sit in the comfort of the ceiling fan, wash our hands, or utilize other innumerable objects in our daily life, they all have been either totally or partially shaped through Pipes and Tubes. One name that brings that for us IIL!

The author is Quality Management Representative & Divisional Manager Operations, International Industries.