Quality and sustainability - World Quality Day 2021
Quality and Sustainability – how does this impact your business?
BM TRADA explores how sustainability and quality are interlinked and what that means for business, answering the questions 'how does product quality impact sustainability?', and 'what can you do to ensure your company is delivering high-quality, sustainable solutions every time?'.
This year, the focus of World Quality Week is 'quality's role in sustainability and its environmental, social and governance (ESG) impact.'
Sustainability can have many different interpretations, particularly in business, but it doesn't have to be complicated. Here at BM TRADA, we believe sustainability in industry is best demonstrated through action; by ensuring the products you make and install are right first time. By providing high-quality solutions every time, you simultaneously meet today's and tomorrow's needs without each damaging the other, the very definition of sustainability.
Companies with a sustainable approach have it embedded in their culture, meeting their own needs without impacting those of their customers, stakeholders, or the planet. This mentality is underpinned by a robust and deep-rooted quality management system.
What is sustainability?
The Brundtland Commission 1987 defined sustainability as "meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs."
In a business environment, sustainability is an approach that creates long-term value by considering the ecological, social, and economic repercussions on the living environment.
The benefits of a sustainable approach
The 2009 Harvard business review viewed sustainability as a heavy driver of change, especially in product development, with sustainable product development coming with a host of benefits, including higher return on investment (ROI).
"Our research shows that sustainability is a mother lode of organizational and technological innovations that yield both bottom-line and top-line returns. Becoming environment-friendly lowers costs because companies end up reducing the inputs they use. In addition, the process generates additional revenues from better products or enables companies to create new businesses. In fact, because those are the goals of corporate innovation, we find that smart companies now treat sustainability as innovation's new frontier."
How does product quality impact sustainability?
The Deepwater Horizon Spill of 2010 is a case study that demonstrates the impact of product quality on sustainable practices.
One of the largest oil spills in recorded history to date, in the Deepwater Horizon Spill, approximately 4.9 million barrels of BP oil flooded the Gulf of Mexico over three months.
This was not only a hugely detrimental environmental and sustainability issue but also a demonstrable quality fault. A federal board investigation into the spill concluded that a last-ditch safety device on the underwater well had multiple failures, including faulty wiring in two places, a dead battery, and a bent pipe in the hulking device.
This is an extreme example of the environmental impacts a faulty product could have.
How is quality a motivator in sustainable practices?
Quality refinements within a business, particularly when urged by ISO standards (for example, ISO 9001 and ISO 14001), can help your business evaluate and improve its efficiency, reduce waste, and improve the management processes. As a result of these improvements, businesses gain a competitive advantage.
By integrating quality controls throughout all stages of development, from design to the manufacturing and testing process, you reduce the risk of a faulty product.
This acts as a motivator, driving a more sustainable manufacturing process, ensuring you 'get it right the first time.'
How can you ensure product quality every time?
Gaining and maintaining certification can be the first step for many companies, not only wanting to improve product quality and drive market uptake but also improving sustainability. Through both ISO 9001 certification and ISO 14001 certification, a business can support itself in achieving these goals.
Being ISO certified has many benefits from both sustainability and quality perspectives, for example:
- improved employee performance and productivity
- reduced waste and improved efficiency
- Increased customer and stakeholder confidence in your manufacturing capabilities
Having a certification such as ISO 9001 ensures that your management processes are effective and are able to efficiently monitor the production process.
It provides your business with the opportunity for continuous improvement and sustained growth, highlighting shortcomings in your production and allowing any issues to be addressed instantly rather than further down the line when it could affect your budget and success.
In conclusion, quality and sustainability are interlinked. In order to achieve a high-quality offering, businesses must consider the valid certifications. In turn, gaining these certifications acts as a step towards sustainability, reducing waste in the design stage and in production once the products have been marketed as ready for consumers. Considering high quality, sustainable designs helps to ensure you 'get it right the first time,' providing you and your clients with long-lasting products for life.