Keeping Up with Global Standards

Recertification means recommitment to quality

To truly be judged as a producer of high-quality sodium sulphate, it isn’t good enough just to compare ourselves to local competitors and similar products in the marketplace. Instead, Saskatchewan Minerals pursues a higher international standard of quality. That is why we are so proud of our past ISO certification and are committed to this year’s recertification process.

ISO stands for International Organization for Standardization, which is an international quality standard recognized in more than 178 countries. ISO certification underlines a company’s commitment to producing high-quality, consistent product.

“The ISO certification means that the company is well organized and that, by being accredited to an internationally recognized standard, the company is looking at the whole global picture,” says Shannon Schmitz, corporate receptionist and internal quality auditor with Saskatchewan Minerals, who leads the current team involved in maintaining and updating the Quality Management System (QMS).

Always working towards improvement

To achieve the ISO 9001:2008 certification, the Saskatchewan Minerals team dedicated 10 years to developing a robust QMS — one that could be applied to all parts of the company. “The QMS involves all procedures, work instructions, forms and records for the organization,” explains Shannon. “Not only do we make changes in response to changes in the standard, but through internal audits, meetings, suggestions and in response to changes in our organization.”

First receiving ISO certification in 1998, Saskatchewan Minerals goes through a recertification process every three years, with a one-day surveillance audit each year. The recertification process involves a full audit of its entire QMS, which takes at least two days to complete.

“The ISO certification validates [Saskatchewan Minerals] as a quality organization with hardworking, dedicated employees,” says Saskatchewan Minerals General Manager Brent Avery. “We’re a quality conscious company with a corresponding value in the quality products we produce.”

Beyond mere recognition

ISO certification means more to Saskatchewan Minerals than international recognition. It lets customers and suppliers know that the organization is going the extra mile to ensure that it has a quality system in place. When customers provide the company with specifications, they can rest assured that the results will be monitored, measured and analyzed so the company can provide them with the highest quality anhydrous sodium sulphate for their operations.

“The certification provides our customers with some comfort and assurance that they’ll receive a consistent quality product,” says Brent. “We’re able to achieve this consistency through our continuous improvement program and the help of our external customers who provide us with feedback and suggestions on how we can improve.”

The certification is also significant to the employees at the Chaplin facility who work hard to develop and maintain these standards.

“The ISO certification is a source of pride amongst our team and takes consistent effort,” says Brent. The ISO certification is as much a recognition of the employees’ commitment to quality as it is of the company as a whole.

For Shannon, Saskatchewan Minerals’s consistent effort to meet ISO requirements is paying off. “The team knows that they are part of an organization that is second to none,” she says.