MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE ALBANY, Ga. -- The MCLB Albany Maintenance Center took another step forward recently by becoming ISO 9001 registered.
According to Johnny Barthlein, quality department manager and ISO management representative, the registration will help the Maintenance Center maintain its high level of professionalism.
The new ISO 9001 registration standards help hold top managers responsible for making sure missions are accomplished and holds them to higher levels of responsibility.
Although the Maintenance Center was recently ISO qualified by the Defense Contract Management Agency, another government agency, becoming registered is a more stringent process and indicates greater accomplishment, said Barthlein.
"It's like the king blessing the kingdom," Barthlien said of being qualified, meaning that because another government agency was checking the Maintenance Center's standards of operation, it could be argued that any judgments made were not totally impartial.
But Maintenance Center personnel proved that no matter who did the checking, they are up to, and in some cases far exceed, top industry standards.
To become registered, Maintenance Center personnel had to call on an outside source. That source had to be accredited by the only registration body in the United States, the Registration and Accreditation Board, a body of the American National Standards Institute.
"This is the highest level of registration you can get for a quality program," said Lee Penrose, quality manager here and ISO 9000 program officer.
"We are the first complete ground force maintenance depot that has been registered," Barthlein said, though he pointed out that specific areas of other maintenance organizations have been registered.
According to Penrose the registration helps lay the framework for many other Maintenance Center initiatives such as the Lean Thinking, which helps consolidate equipment to streamline efficiency, and Theory of Constraints, which is aimed at performing better business practices.
"We've really got something here that we can hang our teeth on that can help make us better," said Penrose. "And this Maintenance Center has taken it and run with it."
According to Barthlein, another reason for the recent registration was to ensure the Maintenance Center is up to date with current business practices. The last set of standards the organization was judged by were about to be obsolete, so they switched from ISO 9002, which was set in 1994, to the year 2000 standards of ISO 9001.
The 94 standard did not do much to encouraging continuous improvement. However, the 2000 version not only required management to have goals of improving areas, but also required them to measure the progress of their improvement, said Barthlein.
According to Penrose, the registration has helped the managers become more involved with their workers.
With the switch came a whole new level of responsibility. The new standards help keep everything in check, continually progressing toward higher standards and practices. The standards help managers become more proactive too, said Penrose.
In addition, Penrose said initiatives like this will help save the government and taxpayers time and money. If problems are fixed correctly the first time, money won't have to be spent to go back and fix things again.
Penrose, who has been in the quality field for nearly 30 years, attributes the current success of the Maintenance Center to the leadership of Col. Stephen Foreman the commanding officer, Trent Blaylock the deputy commander and Barthlein.
Another aspect that now has to be dealt with is the consistency of their improvements.
"If they, EAQA, the Registrar accredited by the Registration and Accreditation Board come back in and we are not in compliance with the standards, then they can take this registration and say, okay, you're no longer registered."
And according to Penrose, having that taken away would be damaging to the Center.
"If they (Registration and Accreditation Board) pulled this certificate in the civilian world, that would mean a big loss of business," said Penrose. "So it is very important to maintain that certificate."
The Albany Maintenance Center and Blount Island are the only two organizations in the Marine Corps to be completely registered to date, said Penrose. And Maintenance Center Barstow is soon to follow.