Berkhamsted and Redditch manufacturing facilities achieve full certification via online audits
THE coronavirus pandemic and the necessity of social distancing have forced many companies to think creatively about how they conduct business. With Bunting due for audits for a three-year re-accredited certification for Quality (ISO9001), Environment (ISO14001) and Health & Safety (ISO45001) at their Berkhamsted plant and re-certification for Quality and new certification for Environment and Health & Safety at Redditch, Denis Elkins, Bunting’s quality and health and safety manager, adopted a digital approach.
Bunting are one of the world’s leading designers and manufacturers of magnetic separators, metal detectors, magnets, magnetic assemblies, and magnetisers for a wide range of processing and manufacturing sectors. The company’s European manufacturing facilities are in Redditch, just outside Birmingham, and Berkhamsted, in Hertfordshire.
‘The present state of uncertainty meant we had no idea when we would be able to conduct an audit on-site at either facility,’ explained Mr Elkins. ‘Thankfully, we continuously work hard on improving our working methodology and this means we are ready for auditing at any time, even remotely.’
Global certification body NQA conducted the remote audits of the Berkhamsted facility over four days, with another two days taken for Redditch. NQA provide accredited certification, training, and support services to help improve processes, performance, and products and services. The detailed audits focused on three key areas:
- Quality Management Systems ISO9001:2015 – which demonstrates Bunting’s ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements
- Environmental Management ISO14001:2015 – which helps any organization achieve the intended outcomes of its environmental management system
- Health and Safety ISO45001:2018 – an international standard for health and safety at work developed by national and international standards committees independent of government.
From the outset, and as far as practically possible, NQA auditor Charles Hunt outlined the importance of mirroring an on-site audit. The objective of the audit was to confirm that the management systems at both Berkhamsted and Redditch were established and implemented in accordance with the requirements of the audit standard. The NQA audit plan outlined:
- Date and times for each section review and the persons involved
- The subject under review
- The method of communication (whether by email or video conference)
- Supporting indicative records
The audits at Berkhamsted and Redditch facilities took place on two separate occasions between April and May 2020, with Mr Elkins co-ordinating both from his home near Macclesfield.
Most people involved were operating remotely from home, with only limited personnel on site working within strict social-distancing guidelines. Supporting evidence of process performance was supplied using photographs and emailed documents, including photographs taken on site during the audit (eg on-site fire extinguishers), copies of purchases orders and updated production performance data.
NQA also referred to recent press releases and blogs that commented on the company’s performance and the ongoing extension work at Bunting’s Redditch plant, whilst a recently produced YouYube video provided a virtual tour of the Redditch facility.
‘This was the strangest audit I have ever been part of,’ said Mr Elkins, ‘but we simply adapted to the situation. We hope that this positive business news, in these difficult times, will inspire others to adopt creative and novel methods to continue functioning in whatever way they can.’
After the two audits, Bunting achieved certification for all three standards at both the Redditch and Berkhamsted manufacturing sites – Quality (ISO9001), Environment (ISO14001), and Health and Safety (ISO45001). Both sites are now certified under a multi-site registration. At Berkhamsted, the four-day audit concluded with Bunting receiving zero non-conformities.
‘Our external auditors, NQA, have been fantastic,’ said Simon Ayling, Bunting’s European managing director. ‘They adapted the audit to our present [lockdown] situation, without any compromise. I also want to thank and congratulate everyone at both the Berkhamsted and Redditch plants. This was very much a team effort.’