ISO 14001 Overview
ISO 14001 encompasses recommendations for a continually improving environmental management system. Many manufacturers and municipalities around the world utilize ISO 14001 standards to design, implement, execute and continually review the effectiveness of environmental management systems. ISO 14001 allows manufacturers in the environmental market to minimize an organization’s impact on the environment, ideally lowering total cost of quality overall. Here is an overview of the basic challenges facing manufacturers that wish to implement ISO 14001 into a broader, enterprise-wide quality management system.
ISO 14001 Background
Since 1947, the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has been continually expanding its influence on global trade by facilitating the development of multinational product and safety standards. In particular, industry leaders in the manufacturing space continue to rely on ISO quality management system standards as the basis for a sound quality management program. Created in 1987, the ISO 9000 series, specifically, focused on the ideals of a process-centric quality management system. In 1996, ISO ventured into the sphere of environmental management, creating the ISO 14001 series. Expanding upon ISO 9000 to encompass environmental concerns, ISO 14001 presented manufacturers with new challenges.
Challenges Facing Manufacturers in the Environmental Market
The main challenge facing manufacturers in the environmental market is how to plan, implement, check and review environmental management systems within the context of an enterprise-wide quality management framework. Environmental management systems do not exist in a vacuum; their purpose is to positively affect a manufacturer’s environmental “footprint” relative to a company’s broader quality management program. Problems arise when manufacturers cannot translate the generalized framework provided by ISO 14001 into cost-lowering quality management solutions.
Truly, for many organizations around the world, becoming certified to ISO 14001 simply means another layer of standardization to accommodate. Obtrusiveness is not the root cause of issues related to environmental management. Rather, the broad scope of the ISO 14001 series presents manufacturers with the dual challenge of applying all elements of a sound environmental management system in the real world while lowering total cost of quality overall.
The IQS Solution
In the past, manufacturers relied on paper-driven quality management systems to handle the documentation and record-retention requirements common in ISO standards. With the introduction of ISO 14001, these paper-driven solutions continued to become obsolete and ineffective at lowering total cost of quality. To provide manufacturers with a hosted quality management software solution, IQS’ software allows companies to launch “paperless” enterprise-wide environmental management initiatives.
Manufacturers have the ability to configure IQS’ software to encompass ISO 14001-related policies within the context of the overarching quality management solution. Doing so, companies are able to continually improve upon their environmental management systems by adopting the process-centric, enterprise-wide approach. Otherwise, manufacturers would have to rely on disparate solutions, which may actually raise total cost of quality over the long term.
The IQS software solution helps to resolve the challenges of developing and maintaining a sound environmental management system. As ISO standards continue to evolve, paper-based quality management systems will only create more unforeseen issues for manufacturers in the environmental market. To keep total cost of quality low, IQS places the right software tools in the hands of forward-thinking manufacturers that wish to incorporate ISO 14001 into an enterprise-wide quality management system.