Manufacturer re-certified to global quality standard with MAMC assistance

Quality matters in manufacturing, especially when the components you produce affect vehicles safety. But it is not enough to simply say that your products meet stringent standards. Rather, it is imperative that your operation develop, implement and maintain a quality management system to demonstrate your commitment. Customers often require it.

Case in point: Hercules International of Huntington, manufacturer of brake camshafts for the transportation industry. The Cabell County company is ISO 9001: 2015 certified, which means it has achieved the gold standard for quality, one that is recognized worldwide.

Hercules brake camshafts are purchased by transportation industry heavyweights across the country, including Meritor, SAF Holland, Aurora Parts and Volvo, to name a few. The components are installed primarily in tractor trailers and some buses.

“ISO 9001 ensures that we are making the best products for our customers, and since it is a requirement to have certification in order to supply Meritor, we want to make sure we keep it,” said Heidi Pagur, Quality Assurance Manager for Hercules. “If we send parts to a customer that are non-conforming, it not only costs us money and time, but could cost us the customer and our certification.”

Hercules previously hired the Marshall Advanced Manufacturing Center (MAMC) to conduct an internal audit of its quality management system. Companies frequently hire outside auditors to “ensure objectivity and the impartiality of the audit process.” MAMC Director of Quality Services Erica Cheetham identified some breakdowns in the manufacturer’s quality system – which is not uncommon.

Pagur, who has 24 years of experience in quality implementation, joined Hercules 11 months ago as head of quality. One of her first orders of business was to take corrective actions on the non-conformities identified by Cheetham during the previous audit.

“I started by ensuring that all of our employees knew that it is important for them to do all things quality to allow us to continue to supply our customers,” Pagur explained. “I worked with the employees on the floor to ensure that equipment was running correctly and that measurements were being taken so that our products are in specification as well as providing them with the proper documentation so that records can be maintained. [As a result], there has been a significant drop in non-conforming product, which is one of our quality objectives.”

Next, Cheetham conducted a new audit then worked with Pagur to correct deficiencies in preparation for the required three-year review by an outside registrar.

“The audit is to make sure the company is following quality procedures and that it has the records to back it up and show they’re doing what they say,” Cheetham said. This involves such things as identifying that products have been inspected for quality and can be traced, that employee training records exist and are up to date, that quality policies and objectives are clearly articulated and that employees know and understand quality procedures.

The work by Cheetham and Pagur paid off. Hercules International passed its ISO 9001 three-year re-certification in late May with zero findings.

“Erica has been a great help to me and Hercules,” Pagur said. “She provided me with her extensive knowledge and reviewed many forms, procedures and work instructions. This allowed the machine operators and office personnel to do their jobs correctly as well as collect the right information. Our arrangement works well to support the organization and allows for a spirit of continual improvement. I couldn’t have done it all in this short amount of time without her assistance.”

Cheetham said she was impressed with the amount of work Pagur performed, in such a short time, operating as a quality department of one person. “What she did is heroic, a huge lift on her part,” Cheetham said. “I’m confident that the company will remain in compliance with Heidi there.”

Cheetham explained that while ISO 9001: 2015 certification is important for securing certain contracts and conducting business with many government agencies, achieving the ISO standard also boosts efficiency, reduces time and waste, improves safety, and speaks to a company’s ability to consistently produce quality goods and services.

“ISO certification isn’t a one-and-done goal,” Cheetham said. “Rather, it’s a commitment to continual improvement and involves every aspect of your operation, from the boardroom to the machine shop.”

To learn how MAMC can help your company achieve – and maintain – ISO 9001 or any industry-specific quality certifications, contact Cheetham at or 304-781-1687.

June 25, 2024

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