Zest Electric Motors, part of the Zest WEG Group, has been awarded ISO 9001 certification after an aggressive implementation programme which started in January 2011.
“From a local perspective, the Zest WEG Group understands that we compete in a very dynamic business environment that demands world class quality management systems,” Fernando Ribeiro, projects and logistics director at Zest WEG Group, says.
“The ISO 9001 certification is an endorsement of Zest Electric Motors’ commitment to continuous improvement, as it calls for a highly customer-focused approach to business. Achieving the certification was a smooth and natural progression for the company, because it essentially formalised the structures, standards and processes we already had in place.”
Holding company WEG earned its first ISO certificate in 1993 and since then all new factories, both in Brazil and internationally, have followed the ISO 9001 route. Zest Electric Motors initiated the process in January 2011 and set itself the extremely short timeframe of six months to prepare for the audit.
“Two quality engineers from WEG Brazil were deployed to work with our team during this period and we focused on the quality management framework at Zest’s Johannesburg offices and our branches in Durban, Cape Town and Rustenburg,” comments Ribeiro. “We followed a strict timeline demarcated with specific milestones and we actually completed the process two weeks ahead of schedule, which allowed us to conduct internal audits prior to the final external audit that granted these branches certification in July 2011.
A second ISO 9001 phase saw the entire process repeated at Zest Electric Motors’ Trichardt, Richards Bay, Mpumalanga and Port Elizabeth branches and this initiative was completed in February 2012, with the branches duly receiving ISO 9001 certification.
“The implementation of such an important project is always challenging, particularly an undertaking that changes the company’s status quo — but we had many factors in our favour,” comments Ribeiro. “Foremost among them was the complete commitment and support of our management team, which engendered a positive attitude to change from the top down and saw our people taking ownership of the project from the start. And, because the documentation was created in-house by these core employees, it was appropriate and correct.
“Another success factor was the fact that the right quality principles and ethics were already well established at the heart of our business strategy. This is true for all the other Zest WEG Group companies and it bodes well for these companies to embark on their own successful ISO 9001 journeys in the not-too-distant future.”
Each of the company’s departments selected ISO 9001 champions or facilitators, who acted as a liaison between the implementation team and their colleagues. These facilitators also took direct responsibility for implementing certain procedures in their areas of operation and for ensuring that training took place.
Some employees underwent quality training at the SABS, while the facilitators received in-house training on quality management systems presented by an external company, via a “train the trainer” approach, after which they passed this information on to their colleagues. Each of the company’s departments now provides a record of training on a monthly basis, including a section on quality management systems added to the induction course for new staff members and training for employees who have changed positions within the company.
“In this way, quality training has now become an interactive part of everyone’s routine,” Ribeiro says. “Training is specific to the individual’s area of work and each person must be declared competent by their respective line manager.”
The next Zest WEG Group company to pursue ISO 9001 certification is EML (Electric Motor Lamination), scheduled to be audited in March 2013.
Zest WEG Group, an acknowledged leader in the supply of electric motors and drives, motor control panels, generator sets, energy solutions and ancillary products and services, has experienced unprecedented growth across the African continent since the 2010 acquisition of the Zest WEG Group by WEG, a leading Brazilian motor and controls manufacturer. The Group has made particularly strong inroads into Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique, Angola, DRC, Kenya, Tanzania and Botswana, as well as into the West African countries of Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso and Mauritania.