Sandia LabNews

Nuclear Weapons team celebrates milestone: ISO certification

Members of the Nuclear Weapons SMU, Centers 2400, and 2700 celebrated an important milestone on Tuesday, Dec. 12. The Nuclear Weapons SMU, including its Manufacturing Science & Technology and Neutron Generator Production activities, has been registered by BSI, Inc., North America’s leading provider of management systems registration, to the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2000 management standard.

This represents a milestone for the Laboratories, and was the result of great effort by team members charged with its undertaking, says Deputy Director for the Nuclear Weapons Program Joan Woodard.

“Usually we are the world innovators, but in this case we needed to steal the best ideas from business in order to honor the critical nature of the work we do,” Joan says. “We’re in a serious business and the taxpayers of this nation demand this of us.

“When you consider the importance and the sensitive nature of our work, can you think of any better reasons to have standardized products, services, and processes? Any better reasons for continual improvement?,” she says.

ISO was established in 1947 as a worldwide federation of national standards bodies from more than 140 countries. It promotes standardization of business practices and products as a way to foster economic prosperity. ISO’s work results in international agreements that are published as international standards for every thing from manufactured products to businesses processes.

Dave Carlson, chief operating officer of the Nuclear Weapons SMU, explained the importance of standards setting to industry, talking about how standardization of such ordinary things as railroad gauges and screw threads contributed to the ability of industry to innovate.

“ISO standards make a positive difference,” Dave says. “Not just to engineers and manufacturers for whom they solve basic problems in production and distribution, but to society as a whole.”

Patty Wagner, NNSA Sandia Site Office director, reminded audience members about the standards clauses in Sandia’s contract with the DOE, and expressed hope that the internalization of the standards process would allow SSO to “change the way we do oversight.”

The NWSMU began the process of ISO certification in 2001, and partnered with an external lead ISO lead auditor and consultant to develop their certification plan.

Chuck Meyers, who led the ISO process, pointed out that the reward for the effort is not really the certificate.

“The real power comes from improving our management system through predictable, repeatable, measured processes that reduce rework and errors,” says Chuck.

Gene Morrison, BSI’s Regional Vice President for the West USA, came from Chicago to present the registration certificate and warned the group that this was only the beginning of their journey. “You have established a foundation.”

Other groups at Sandia have gone through the certification process of ISO certification including Telecommunications Operations Dept. 9334, International Contracts and Import Export Control Dept. 10257, Manufacturing Enterprise Departments 14181, 14186, and 14111 and the Material Processing and Coatings Laboratory.