ISO Certification and the importance of UKAS
Buyers in all sectors recognise the importance of managing an effective supply chain. Companies are working harder than ever to keep costs down, whilst at the same time ensuring that the all important quality standards are met.
This is particularly important in our industry, the manufacture of Medical Devices. At Platts & Nisbett we recognise the importance of quality, and our surgical instruments speak for themselves. On paper our ISO13485 Certificate proves it, but is this the case with all your suppliers?
It may come as a shock to learn that not all ISO Certificates are what they seem. This is because not all companies with an ISO Certificate have been issued it by a UKAS accredited body. UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) is the only accreditation body in the field of Quality Management Systems which is recognised by the UK Government.
The certification companies which are not accredited to UKAS are not doing anything illegal however – they often offer a package that combines consultancy with certification. Many offer to provide their services on a “no certificate – no fee” basis, but in reality a certificate is rarely if ever refused. It is invariably received together with a generic Quality Manual, which may not reflect the activities of the Company. There are no rules, regulations or minimum standards to comply with. This practice is contrary to the requirements of the international standard with which UKAS accredited bodies are required to comply.
The only way to minimise risk is to look for suppliers whose certification is done by a UKAS accredited body, which combines technical knowledge and expertise with commercial impartiality. UKAS is the only accreditation body recognised by the Government to assess certification bodies against internationally recognised standards, ensuring the certification body is fit for purpose, and your ISO Certificate is valid.
So, how do you know whether your supplier’s ISO certificate is UKAS accredited? That’s the easy part. Companies who are certified by a UKAS accredited body are the only ones who may display the Crown and Tick logo on their certificate and publicity material, so that is the first thing to look out for. The UKAS Crown and Tick symbolises the independent regulation of the certificate, and each accredited body will have a unique number. This is displayed underneath their UKAS Logo. If you would like to check if a QMS certification body is UKAS Accredited, please click here.
Another thing to check is a Company’s Certificate Number, which can be verified by the issuer if you are concerned of its validity. It is also a good idea to check the issue and expiry date of any certificate.
By using a UKAS accredited certification body, suppliers can give reassurance that their Quality Management Systems comply with international standards, sending a clear message about the high standards that are maintained.
For more information, please visit www.ukas.com.