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S&C Division Earns Quality Certification

Crews from PNR RailWorks Signals & Communications division are employing ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System standards throughout the division’s work processes.

A newly awarded quality designation is the latest testament to PNR RailWorks’ Signals & Communications (S&C) division’s position as an industry leader bent on integrity.

PNR RailWorks was notified in late December 2010 that the S&C division had received certification for its ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System. The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is a noted global authority for developing international, standardized measurements for quality in business processes. And ISO 9001:2008 is the recognized standard for quality management systems, says Percy Lao, quality engineer, who spearheaded the PNR RailWorks’ certification effort.

S&C Vice President Gord Strilchuk says the investment of resources was worthwhile. “We understood the time and cost of going ISO,” he says, “but in the end, we realized it would make the business unit better and make a strong statement to our customers about how we work and the quality of our work.”

The S&C division began to pursue the certification early in 2010 after recognizing that an ISO-certified rating would strengthen opportunities for new business. “It was something we did to expand on the processes and procedures we had,” says Gord.

“We looked at processes we had in place, and what we needed to put in place according to the requirements of ISO 9001,” Percy adds. “We made sure that whatever we implemented was meeting these requirements.”

Both Percy and Gord cite benefits of meeting ISO-based requirements. They say that in the course of attaining certification, more formalized processes have emerged. For example, the S&C division has improved its documentation. Gord and Shawn Malott, assistant manager, established the new Quality Policy. The Quality Policy is based off RailWorks’ own company policy, with slight revisions to comply with the ISO standards.

Now, as Gord puts it, it’s easier to establish in writing that “we do what we say we’re going to do.”

Another benefit of becoming ISO-compliant is the renewed emphasis on error reduction. “We have a formalized corrective action system in place now,” Percy says, “to capture our mistakes and ensure we work to prevent those mistakes from happening in the future.”

Official news of the certification came after months of preparation and consultation with a prominent advisor-auditor group. The ISO doesn’t offer certifications; rather, third-party agencies perform the measuring and certifying against ISO-developed criteria.

PNR RailWorks worked with SGS, an international leader in helping companies test and qualify for certification. To prepare for the formal, two-phase certification audit, the S&C division conducted an internal evaluation. The group was able to identify opportunities for tightening processes in conformance to ISO quality standards prior to SGS’ initial audit, on November 15.

At that time, SGS reviewed scores of written quality documents to assess compliance to the ISO, and identified concerns for correction. During audit phase II (conducted in late December), SGS personnel were on site for three days in offices and shops. They observed during meetings, interviewed employees and examined work practices.

SGS finalized its work in December, then awarded the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System designation in January 2011.

SGS will conduct annual checkup audits to help the S&C division stay on its quality track. The division is eligible to recertify in three years.