Knorr Brake Corp. receives international quality certification ISO 9000

January 12, 1995|By Karen Zeiler | Karen Zeiler,Contributing Writer

Knorr Brake Corp., which manufactures brake systems for passenger trains and transit vehicles, has received the international quality certification known as ISO 9000, company officials announced last week.

"It's important that we have this standard if we want to deal in a marketplace outside of the U.S.," said Stephen L. Crum, a quality assurance engineer who served on the team that spent the past 16 months writing and editing a 300-page quality system manual.

Mr. Crum said the certification could help open more markets to Knorr, which supplies brake systems to railroad car manufacturers in Europe, Canada and France.

Developed in Europe, the seal of approval is now used in 55 bTC countries. It is given by the International Organization for Standardization in Geneva.

Its guidelines have gained wide acceptance among industries in the European Union and are a prerequisite for much international trade.

"As more businesses come to accept and in some cases require these standards, not having [the certification] could end up closing doors to us," Mr. Crum said.

The company is the first in Carroll to have achieved this standard.

"By attaining the ISO 9000 certification, Knorr reinforces itself as a leader in its field," said Eileen Shields, marketing manager of the Carroll County Department of Economic Development. "It's nice to have a world-class company like them here."

The ISO seal does not guarantee products, but the quality management procedures used by a manufacturer, Mr. Crum said.

"ISO is not specific about what a business must do in the way of drawings or inspections, but offers guidelines about the documention process, which it must follow consistently," he said.

All quality-control procedures must be fully documented under the system, which also calls for aggressive corrective action.

"What this certification says is that a company is capable of doing really good stuff because the processes and the checks are there," Mr. Crum said.

He added that an important element of the standard is self-evaluation and that a series of comprehensive internal audits will begin in February.

"It forces you to organize yourself, do corrective actions and improve your system constantly," he said.

Knorr, which moved to Westminster from Rockville in September 1991, has more than doubled its staff since 1993. It employs nearly 150 people.

Knorr was certified after 16 months of preparation, which Mr. Crum said is noteworthy because the process can take as long as two years to complete.

Company officials said ISO certification always has been a goal. But, a directive from the Munich, Germany-based parent company Knorr-Bremse AG and the certification nine months ago of Knorr's sister company, New York Air Brake, prompted officials to seek it.

The certificate of registration was to be presented at a ceremony at the Westminster facility today to Dr. Bo Cavell, who is visiting from Munich.

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