Product Quality and ISO Participation

2012_iso-logo_printThe International Organization for Standardization [ISO] provides a forum for representatives from various companies and organizations to discuss factors that improve product quality. At these meetings, which are held twice a year, companies gain general knowledge that facilitates product improvements. The ISO allows each company to validate their testing procedures as they learn about best  practices from others in the industry. Companies that do not participate are essentially operating in the dark.

I participate on the ISO committee that addresses image permanence. These images include everything from a 4×6 print to a photo book to a drivers license. Participation gives me an inside view into the the factors that determine how long photos will last. Without the ISO, my knowledge of factors that permanence would be far more limited than it is. I have learned about the importance of humidity, ozone, light, and heat in determining product lifetime. In my current position, this knowledge allows me to test and validate the expected lifetime for driver’s licenses and other IDs, ensuring that the image will be durable and long-lasting. After all, a driver’s license or ID photo is important, even if it is unflattering.

Membership in the ISO Working Group on image permanence is open to anyone interested with an interest in participating. For more details see The IS&T Standards Program and ISO/TC42 Photography or send me an email.

Anyone can use ISO standard since they are publicly available documents. Unfortunately, not everyone may understands how to implement and follow recommended procedures, leading to misleading product claims and product that may not meet customer expectations.  I cannot do a lot about these issues other than to continue this blog and point out misleading product claims when I see them.

Note added June 17, 2013: The U.S. member body participating in the ISO requires a fee to join the committee that addresses image permanence and photosafety but no fee to comply with issued standards. What is required is testing to ensure compliance, and testing costs money. Of course if you don’t run the tests you really have no idea what you are getting.

About Mark Mizen

At Creative Memories, I evaluate photographic products and related materials so that today's memories are not lost to the future and then communicate this information to Creative Memories Consultants and their customers. My interests extend from preservation of traditional photographs to the production of photo books to the expected longevity of electronic image files. My long-term objective is to direct the development of technology that meets consumers needs for high-quality products.
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4 Responses to Product Quality and ISO Participation

  1. Christina Harrigan says:

    Product Quality is governed by the ISO 9000 Series of Standards, the most implemented standard being ISO 9001, for Design, Manufacture, and Testing. I did my Master’s Degree on this standard, back in the 1990’s when this standard was still relatively new, and have worked professionally implementing this standard for both major corporations and small businesses, with much success over the years. One does NOT need to be on the committee to thoroughly understand a standard to implement it with success. Any organization that uses the claim of being compliant to any ISO standard MUST have successfully passed audits performed by accredited, independent, third-party auditors. You are not allowed by ISO to bear a cerfiticate of compliance without proper documentation from the auditing organization. This is not a simple or inexpensive process. Independent Consultants, as well as professional societies (such as ASQ – American Society for Quality) are great resources for research, training, and forums to discuss interpretations and best known methods. It usually takes an organization 18-36 months of preparation once they decide that compliance is not only good for their business practices, but will also help with marketing their products internationally. And once registered, there are ongoing compliance audits that must also be done to keep their registration active.

  2. Mark Mizen says:

    The ISO 9000 standards cover general quality requirements. The ISO is also responsible for many additional industry specific standards, including the ISO 189xx standards on image permanence. It is very difficult to get additional information about these industry specific standards without participating in standards development, unlike the general ISO 9000 standards for which extensive training is available.

  3. I agree with the above comments and would also like to mention that although gaining ISO certification can be a long process it is certainly recommended and will benefit any business.

  4. Mark A. says:

    I believe that participating with ISO standards helps achieve quality standards for a certain product or service. Many company and business have succeeded with the help of ISO standards. A good example is Coca cola being the largest user of ISO standard – succeeded in managing their resources and company well.

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