American-LaFrance-Shawano earns quality standards certification

American LaFrance-Shawano, formally 3D Manufacturing, Inc., has received ISO 9001 Certification, recognized in more that 90 countries as the benchmark for quality assurance.

The certification was presented Jan. 12 to officials at ALF-Shawano.

"Because more and more companies around the world are using ISO certification as a gauge for quality, it was a major step for ALF-Shawano," said Quality Assurance Manager and project coordinator Rick Beyer. "This allowed us to compete for business anywhere in the world."

The certification followed a comprehensive four-day assessment. Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. (UL) conducted the assessment by evaluating ALF's manufacturing systems and procedures.

"The process was rigorous, but the goal remained the same: To demonstrate our commitment to providing our customers with the highest quality products and services," Beyer said.

ISO 9001 certification is the most comprehensive of the quality standards. It included all elements of the fire apparatus product from sales and engineering through servicing, he said.

The upper management team, comprised of General Manager Dennis Zeman and Vice President of Operations Daniel Miller, said that for ALF to do business in the 21st Century the ISO 9001 certification would be a prerequisite.

"As another step to provide safe, reliable products and services at a level of quality that meets our customers' expectations, we felt that this was a natural step in our evolution," Miller said.

American LaFrance-Shawano started this project almost 2-1/2 years ago. The ISO standard required employees at all levels to step back and examine their existing procedures. In some cases, they needed to define new ways of doing business.

"ISO 9001 gave us (ALF) the opportunity to rethink many of our everyday business practices, said plumbing facilitator Ben Michonski. "It also forced us to do things on a consistent basis, which is what ISO is all about."

Once the system was written, the company needed to implement it. This required every employee to complete quality system training. Some employees, depending on the position, needed to complete anywhere from 40 to 120 hours of additional training.

"The training process was intense," Beyer said. "Here were employees studying subjects ranging from corrective action to root cause analysis, and as I look back from where we were, to where we are now, it is rewarding to see how the company has grown," said Beyer.

In order for American LaFrance - Shawano to remain certified, the company must continue to focus on quality everyday, Beyer said. ALF must also conduct quarterly internal audits, and have UL review their systems every six months for compliance.

American LaFrance Corp. purcased 3-D Manufacturing from Zeman last year.

PICTURE:

Tovia Bat-Leah from Underwriters Laboratories, Inc is presenting Dennis Zeman of American LaFrance - Shawano with the ISO 9001 Certificate of Registration. Pictured left to right is; Pat Schutt - Plant Manager, Dennis Zeman - General Manager, Tovia Bat-Leah - Lead Auditor from UL, Dan Miller - Vice President of Operations, and Rick Beyer - Quality Assurance Manager and Project Coordinator.

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