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Does Your 3PL Need to Be ISO 9001 Compliant?

Posted by Brandon White on Sep 27, 2017 8:24:00 AM

Kenco ISO9001

There's a reason a service business is often called an organization––the concept is crucial to keeping the "machines of commerce" running smoothly, no matter what your industry may be.

Because the components of the business are multifaceted and often complex (think supply chains and logistics), you need consistency and a reasonable measure of predictability throughout the entire life cycle of your product.

Without a standard in place, repeatability and reproducibility go out the window, and it's not long before inventory levels are off, and shipments have gone awry. One of the best ways to ensure consistency and quality in your work is through the use of standards––in this case ISO 9001, which requires a certain amount of training and demonstration of proficiency.

Standards keep your business accountable for certain levels of service and excellence.

Of the many standards, ISO 9001 gets much of the press. Despite familiarity with the term, many businesses aren't sure what it entails. Consider this post an important primer in one of the most recognizable standards worldwide!

What Is ISO 9001, Exactly?

In a nutshell, the International Organization for Standardization 9001 is a mark of confidence granted to organizations that have demonstrated––either organically or through the results of an approved improvement plan––a trustworthy and stable quality management system. It’s important to note not all organizations choose to become certified, but many do take on the task of being compliant with the standard.

Organizations that hold ISO 9001 certification or are compliant to it have committed their business efforts to following international process standards outlined in the requirements.

Specifically, ISO 9001 certified, or compliant, companies have a well-documented quality management system with prescribed minimum requirements and strive to have minimal to no variability in the consistency of the products they provide to their customers. Within the sphere of 3PL services, the big names––generally adhere to the ISO 9001 standard, but many smaller companies are unable to meet basic requirement thresholds or aren't adhering to the standards set forth by ISO. It's rare for a small-to-medium 3PL provider to strive for ISO 9001 compliance due to the continuous improvement and work required. While corporately Kenco is compliant with the ISO 9001 standard, we also have the knowledge and capability to become certified at a site should a customer request it.

Why should a 3PL be compliant to ISO 9001

Nothing damages brand reputation and make customers skittish quite like inconsistency. Adhering to ISO 9001 standards in your organization is a move to eliminate these concerns through best practices and standardization.

After all, even the most high-quality product can be damaged or delayed when at the hands of a bad 3PL provider, but you won't need to worry when your service provider has proactively standardized itself to the components of ISO 9001.

Even if you're already using this standard in your organization, it is important to extend those ideals when choosing your logistics partners in the rest of your supply chain and even to the "last mile" of delivery to keep customer impressions high and positive, order after order.

Ensuring your entire supply chain is in compliance now will mean fewer growing pains as your company expands operations in the months and years to come.

How Will ISO 9001 Certification or Even Compliance Benefit My Company?

As Mark Hammar of 9001 Academy explains, obtaining an ISO 9001 certification offers benefits that work both inside and outside of your company.

Internally, ISO standards help reinforce risk mitigation within your workforce, support continuous improvement, and shine a harsh light on any areas sorely in need of an efficiency and effectivity overhaul. Time-tested and backed by a wealth of high-level international success stories, these standards aren't a fad in the business world––rather, they're a must for companies that are serious about producing quality goods and earning the respect of customers and supply chain partners, alike.

What Are the ISO 9001 Requirements?

While ISO 9001 has expected rigidity in its requirements, there are three basic areas you can start on as you begin your certification or compliance journey. Once you've addressed these, you'll be well on your way.

  1. Document Control: Your documentation is the key to every step of your operation: Do you have a plan for it? Who handles the paperwork? Who has access? How are secure documents stored and how are changes to documents managed? These are all questions you should be able to answer with ease. If not, it's time to rework your document handling and filing systems.
  2. Control of Non-Conforming: Where do your damages, defects, and returns go to make sure they aren't cycled back out into your "safe" products? Do you have a specific place in your warehouse to store them, away from general stock? Each member of your team who could come into contact with a damaged or broken item should know exactly what to do with the item in question, and how to handle it without supervision whenever possible.
  3. Internal Auditing: While the self-auditing process can take some time, arranging a formal self-assessment on a periodic basis not only helps the company's bottom line, it gets your team closer to the problems they'll need to fix. This allows for a faster and easier move from problem identification to solutions, all without needing to hire outside the company.

You can read more here about the specific mandatory procedures your 3PL would need to document on the way to ISO 9001 compliance.

To Sum It All Up

Considering ISO 9001 compliance as a factor while you examine your options for 3PL partners? It's an excellent choice for businesses that want to be well-respected among their peers. Partnering with a logistics service provider that is compliant puts you in an enviable position when it comes to your competition.

If you're ready to work with a 3PL that provides this type of uncommon value and unparalleled quality, Kenco is ready and willing to match you with the 3PL services you need to succeed.

We recently published an open SlideShare on the culture and guiding principles that foster our client relationships. Read more about the quality and service we strive to deliver in every aspect of your logistics needs.

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Brandon White

Written by Brandon White