The coronavirus pandemic and the necessity of social distancing have forced many companies to think creatively. With Bunting due for audits for a 3-year re-accredited certification, Denis Elkins, Bunting’s Quality Manager, adopted a digital approach.
With Bunting due reassessment for Quality (ISO9001), Environment (ISO14001) and Health & Safety (ISO45001) at their Berkhamsted plant and recertification for Quality and new certification for Environment and Health & Safety at Redditch, Bunting’s Quality and Health & Safety Manager Denis, needed to adapt and adopt a different approach.
Bunting is 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. Bunting’s European manufacturing facilities are in Redditch, just outside Birmingham, and Berkhamsted, both in the United Kingdom.
“The present state of uncertainty meant we had no idea when we would be able to conduct an audit onsite at either facility,” explained Denis 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 – this standard demonstrates Bunting’s ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements;
- Environmental Management ISO14001:2015 – this standard helps any organisation achieve the intended outcomes of its environmental management system, which provide value for the environment, the organization itself and interested parties;
- Health and Safety ISO45001:2018 – this is 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 to mirror an onsite 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 Denis co-ordinating both audits 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. This included photographs taken on-site during the audit (e.g. of onsite 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. A recently produced video (uploaded on the Bunting-Redditch YouTube channel) provided a virtual tour of the Redditch facility.
“This was the strangest audit I have ever been part of,” said Denis, “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 separate audits, Bunting achieved certification for all three standards on 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.”
The latest approvals at Redditch mean that all of Bunting’s UK manufacturing plants are now held under a multi-site registration.
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