Kirkstall Precision Engineering recently underwent an ISO 9001 re-certification, their first since implementing a new MRP system, Access FactoryMaster. The Manufacturer’s James Devonshire sat down with Iqbal Bahia, Operations Director at Kirkstall, to learn more about the audit, Access FactoryMaster’s role and what’s next for the precision engineering firm.
For decades, Kirkstall Precision Engineering has had a reputation for precision engineering excellence in a wide range of sectors, from medical to automotive, gas & oil, food, textile and more.
A key factor in Kirkstall’s success has been their ability to have the correct procedures and processes in place to enable them to achieve a wide range of industry recognised certifications, including ISO and FDA accreditations.
Iqbal Bahia, Operations Director at Kirkstall Precision Engineering. Image courtesy of Kirkstall.
Going into re-certification with the utmost confidence
To maintain ISO 9001 accreditation, firms must undergo a compliance audit every three years. In June 2021, it was Kirkstall’s turn for re-certification. And this time around, it would be their first since implementing a brand new MRP system in the shape of Access FactoryMaster.
Kirkstall’s approach to any audit or certification process has always been thorough. This time, with Access FactoryMaster on their side, there was a sense that something special could happen. And it did, as Kirkstall passed with flying colours.
Access FactoryMaster’s role in the re-certification process
Talking about their approach ahead of the re-certification, Iqbal had this to say: “The big game-changer with this audit was that we had scrapped all of our tried and tested systems and procedures. We rewrote the lot because everything was going to be driven by the system. It was the first audit based on a brand new MRP system, QMS and a much-improved Business Management System (BMS).”
Given the fact that Kirkstall had only implemented Access FactoryMaster six months earlier, for Iqbal, this audit was going to be the real barometer on how successful everything had been.
The fact that Kirkstall passed their ISO 9001 re-certification with “zero NCs” (non-conformances) is a fitting testament to the implementation’s success.
Screenshots of Access FactoryMaster MRP in action. Images courtesy of The Access Group.
A digital transformation for the better
Every business wants to become more efficient, and a key to achieving this is a robust digital transformation. The aim of this for Kirkstall was to achieve complete confidence that their records are accurate and up to date at all times. With Access FactoryMaster, Kirkstall have achieved exactly that.
“From a quality point of view, the main benefit is having quick and easy access to documentation such as certificates and production data. We’ve gone paperless and everything is only a couple of clicks of the mouse away in Access FactoryMaster,” Iqbal said.
Iqbal continued: “Another important point is the fact that we can control a number of critical points through Access FactoryMaster, such as calibration and non-conformance reporting. We can ensure that the system provides the controls we need throughout the process without limiting or slowing down the workflow.”
Pushing their excellence in medical engineering
Working in a fast-moving sector, where 85% of orders are for the medical sector, Kirkstall didn’t want any non-value-add steps in their production process.
Where previously the firm had a manufacturing pack containing 10-15 documents, they now have just a single piece of paper with a barcode on it. This piece of paper follows the job throughout the entire production process and is always up to date.
The result is that Kirkstall have complete confidence in their production process and have virtually eliminated the risk of producing orders that are not to specification. And that’s something the ISO 9001 auditors were really impressed with.
By eliminating uncontrolled documents on the shop floor, and keeping everything stored online from the outset, Kirkstall have not only realised some serious efficiency gains, but also significantly improved their QC processes.
“Reducing the time to find a production document and having the confidence that the record is available and correct is critical in our type of business,” Iqbal said.
Barcode scanners help keep Kirkstall’s production processes as efficient as possible. Image courtesy of Kirkstall.
ISO 13485 re-certification is the firm’s next big test
The next big test of Kirkstall’s Access FactoryMaster implementation and quality control processes is ISO 13485, which specifically focusses on quality management for medical devices.
Without ISO 13485 accreditation, manufacturers cannot make medical devices. And seeing as 85% of Kirkstall’s business comes from the medical sector, this standard is crucial for the firm.
Having gained ISO 13485 certification previously, Iqbal is confident that Kirkstall will gain re-certification. But like the ISO 9001 audit, the ISO 13485 audit will be another rigorous test of the company’s processes and procedures, as well as their quality management and MRP systems.
Kirkstall’s 4-day ISO 13485 audit is coming up at the end of the year and not achieving re-certification isn’t an option.
As Iqbal said, “You can buy a Ferrari, and it can be a fantastic Ferrari. However, if you lose your driving license, you can’t drive it. While we have a fantastic infrastructure here at Kirkstall, with highly motivated and trained people to manufacture top quality medical devices, if we lose our ISO 13485 certification, we would no longer be able to manufacture medical devices.”
Fortunately, having gained and retained ISO 13485 certification previously, Iqbal is confident that Kirkstall’s new processes, procedures and systems will make re-certification even more seamless.
“The system’s interaction with our business is critical for success, and now we have everything in one place we can measure and report on our performance. This includes our customer KPIs along with our internal measures, allowing a clear view to help us develop going forward,” Iqbal said.
What’s next at Kirkstall?
Iqbal said the next big step for Kirkstall is to take their production processes to the next level by implementing The Access Group’s advanced planning and scheduling software, Access Orchestrate. The goal is to have everything under one integrated system.
In addition to Access Orchestrate, Kirkstall are also looking at introducing tablets with handheld QR code scanners so they can carry out stock checks at any given time and further improve their visibility across the business.
For Iqbal and Kirkstall, QC is going to be paramount going forward. As the medical sector becomes more stringent and medical device (MDR) regulations tighten further, Kirkstall are positioning themselves, through their meticulous quality management systems and exceptional attention to detail, to be able to step up to the plate and satisfy even the strictest medical customers’ demands.
One of the reasons they chose Access FactoryMaster is because of its reputation and flexibility. Furthermore, Kirkstall have tweaked Access FactoryMaster to make it perfect for the medical sector.
Iqbal believes that Kirkstall have maximised Access FactoryMaster’s functionality to align with and support their strategy, further highlighting the firm’s ambitions to be innovative and stay ahead of the curve.