Focus on Customer Service Leads to Successful ISO Registration at Winkle Industries

Making customer satisfaction a company-wide responsibility keeps employees in tune with quality processes

Alliance, OH - Joseph T. Schatz, President of Winkle Industries Inc., is proud to announce that their operation is now a registered ISO 9001:2008 facility.

Registration was formalized on September 10, 2010, after completing a successful audit by QAS International in July.

"Every single one of our employees has contributed to the quality procedures leading to this milestone in Winkle's history," Schatz said. "First and foremost, I want to thank and congratulate our staff for all their efforts to bring this process to fruition."

Customer service leads the way to quality
According to Beth Felger, Vice President Operations at Winkle, an initiative to make customer service the focus of every employee's job, launched over the past few years, was an important ingredient qualifying for ISO registration. "Like many manufacturers, we were very departmentalized - customer service was simply one department. By working to make every employee accountable in their role of customer satisfaction, quality has become more ingrained in what every one of us does every day. That's the kind of mindset that makes an ISO quality process work."

Overcoming the ISO "myth"
Felger admits that ISO registration was a lengthy and challenging process, but not actually as difficult as originally imagined. "Really, our biggest hurdle was getting past the notion that ISO would force us to change everything we do. In reality, it was mostly about tweaking certain aspects of our procedures, then documenting what we do to make it repeatable and consistent. We had all heard the nightmare stories, but they turned out to be all myth!"

Keeping pace with change
As Quality Manager at Winkle, Mike Haidet was responsible for helping the staff to define all the procedures that are compiled in an ISO-compliant quality management process. However, as he got the program underway, Haidet quickly found that his ISO program was complicated as a result of the diversification of Winkle products and services. While Winkle is among the nation's leading manufacturers of material handling devices and equipment, its facility resembles a job shop more than the production lines of other equipment OEMs. Most of Winkle's output in lifting devices and material handling systems is custom-engineered for specific applications. Even "standard" lines, such as Winkle's familiar lifting devices and crane products, are routinely adapted to individual customer needs. The facility also provides a remanufacturing service for many makes and models of lifting magnets as well as mechanical and hydraulic lifting devices. In addition, several leading equipment brands contract with Winkle to manufacture their devices, controls and other components under private label.

The ISO quality procedures had to cover all of these processes, as well as Winkle's own products.

Standardizing with flexibility
"Our job shop model did end up helping us keep our ISO program on track," Haidet explains. "It allowed us to keep moving forward with various work centers while we were busy with other projects on the management side. It reflects the flexibility of our whole facility."

At the same time, Haidet was launching his ISO plan, Winkle was also implementing a new enterprise-wide management information system, while the engineering group was engaged with developing several new products and with re-engineering its full line of scrap magnets. "In the long run, the management information system and the quality program complemented each other. We were able to dovetail ISO requirements with management documentation databases, so we weren't re inventing one on top of the other."

Process delivers immediate benefits
Schatz says that he looks forward to using the discipline of ISO manufacturing to keep his firm on top of best practices and continuous improvement through years ahead. However, he also appreciates the immediate pay-offs to his customers and staff. "We know of at least one highly valued customer that recently established ISO registration as a new "must have" for suppliers, so we're glad we will be qualified to retain that business in spite of the change," he commented. "We have also found that well-defined procedures in our ISO documentation have streamlined our planning and overall workflow. There are fewer questions when we initiate a new project now. That means we can respond faster and more accurately to customer requests. So, really, this ISO process does come right back to improved service for Winkle customers!"

About Winkle Industries

Winkle Industries is a worldwide leader in engineered solutions for users of mill-duty material handling equipment. Winkle's ISO 9001:2008 facilities provide end-to-end design, manufacture and complete support for below-the-hook magnetic and mechanical lifting devices, above-the-hook electrical and mechanical crane products, on-the-ground material handling equipment, engineering services, aftermarket services, machining and fabrication. Winkle's experience and resources are "raising customer expectations" on a wide range of material handling needs, from innovative product design to customer process improvement.

For information, contact:
Ray Seymour,
Commodity Manager
2080 West Main Street,
Alliance, Ohio 44601
Tel: (330) 823-9730
Fax: (330) 823-9788

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