The ISO establishes quality standards and principles that apply to manufacturers worldwide—regardless of product or output. Manufacturers are expected to follow ISO standards in addition to product-specific or geographic requirements. Food handling, for example, is held to different standards than car parts or computer chips.
The guidance from industry groups can be very specific, even granular. Here are some of the most common quality standards that are applied in manufacturing:
Some of the ISO’s best-known standards fall under ISO 9001. It applies to manufacturing operations broadly, regardless of company size, location, or industry.
ISO 9001 builds on the seven quality management principles to build efficiencies, meet statutory and regulatory requirements, and put customers first. To achieve ISO 9001 certification, companies must document how they apply, track, and manage ISO’s quality management principles.
ISO 22000 provides safety standards for the global food supply chain. These standards benefit consumers, of course, but also protect food and beverage manufacturers that work with global growers, suppliers, transport companies, and retailers.
Through Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP), ISO prescribes proactive measures to lower contamination risk and protect food. The seven principles of HACCP are designed to stop hazardous materials from entering the production process—as opposed to identifying them during final inspection.
Good Manufacturing Practice
Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) provides standards for quality governance in highly regulated industries—such as pharmaceutical and medical device manufacturing, cosmetics, and food and beverage manufacturing. Regulations cover manufacturing process, facilities, and personnel—all to ensure consumer safety. GMP requires equipment and product testing, employee competencies, and thorough documentation.
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration enforces GMP standards and regulations; Health Canada, the European Commission, and the World Health Organization regulate GMP worldwide.
Safe Quality Food
The Food Industry Association created the Safe Quality Food (SQF) Program, a rigorous “farm-to-fork” certification to control food safety risks. It ensures that suppliers have produced, prepared, and handled food according to international and local food safety regulations—and to the highest possible standards.
The SQF Program is broken down into levels and codes, many of which build upon the HACCP rules established by the ISO. They cover food safety fundamentals, safety and quality, and ethical sourcing. Auditing is a core component of SQF, as is third-party assessment.
IATF 16949 is the international standard for automotive quality management systems, which was established jointly by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) and the ISO. It applies to any manufacturing organization that makes components, assemblies, or parts for the automotive industry.
IATF 16949 encompasses the QMPs of ISO 9001, but it is process oriented, too. To earn certification, manufacturers must demonstrate how their quality management processes support continuous improvement, prevent defects, and reduce variation and waste in the supply chain.