Quality is King – An Interview With Our Group Quality Manager

At Kloeckner we’re very proud of our internal processes and are acutely aware that our staff are the lifeblood of our company, each with an integral function that allows us to work more and more efficiently each day.

Group Quality Manager, Kevin Maddison, performs a vital role in ensuring that Kloeckner Metals UK not only runs smoothly and efficiently, but safeguards our future through a constant strife to better our processes and standards.

Kevin has been with us for three years now and during his time has made some great strides in helping the company achieve its goals to become an industry leader in quality.

What piqued Kevin’s interest in working within Kloeckner was the scope and challenges that the company was facing at the time, especially in terms of the new markets we were looking to expand into and the approvals and certifications necessitated by them.

The mission of the company is always to be developing our offering within new markets such as automotive, transport, nuclear, oil and gas. Kevin has ten years’ experience in the automotive sector and prior to that, 20 years working in aluminium. Which means he has an in-depth knowledge in system implementation and quality management not only in reference to metals but also within one of our biggest growth sectors; automotive.

Kevin deems automotive as a high platform that needs to be taken very seriously. Kevin explains how the accreditation process permeates every area of the company, from board members who are interviewed, to ensure the company itself has a strong view of where its heading, through to engineers on the warehouse floor and the extensive and fastidious planning involved in attaining this accreditation. He is though, quick to mention the value of the time invested as automotive standards agencies are very strict and unforgiving and failure in this market can ruin your reputation on a global scale.

In July this year Kloeckner Metals UK achieved its TS16949. Doing this from scratch ususally takes around 2-3 years but Kevin informs us that by having an established ISO 9001 platform in place, the time-scales to achieving TS accreditation are by far reduced. So now that we have the accreditation, it’s not one that you ‘hang on a wall and forget about’, it’s absolutely vital that as a company we continually improve and progress with this specification.

From a quality management systems point of view we have to ensure that everything is in place and satisfy the volume of requirements that come along with the TS 16949, from the Senior Management team to the level of training and education, the systems and processes in place across the company, to ultimeately satisfy a governing body’s critical requirements, and we have to be seen to be continuously improving.

Kloeckner UK Quality

The bulk of Kevin’s work on a day to day basis is Quality Systems Implementation. CE marking for example is critical to the success of Kloeckner and as part of EU Directive this was different altogether in terms of complexity and understanding CE regulation.

In terms of Operations whether it’s Thermal Profiling, Shot blasting, Painting or Drilling, Kloeckner Metals holds up to Execution Class 4 as part of its certification. There are four key sites within the Kloeckner group that are certified to BS EN 1090-1 2009 standards.

In addition, we have completed accreditation to the Sign Industry standard 12899-1 2007 which was gained through SGS. Other bodies closely associated with Kloeckner Metals UK are the SCCS and BSi. Associations include the BCSA group and NASS.

There are a team of three Quality Engineers that line in to Kevin, a Quality Manager and soon to be introduced a further Quality Engineer for the Central Stocks location in Stourton Leeds in the New Year. The Quality Engineers are located at key Kloeckner sites throughout the UK and all report to a central group function. They are proficient in Quality Management principles, auditing (internal and external), product and process audits and operational experience from a multi-metals operation to automotive, aerospace, nuclear and oil and gas sectors.

One of the main facets of the Kloeckner mantra is our dedication to traceability and identification. Kevin explains that again, standard expectations are high regarding traceability of the materials we stock and ship and that we would never accept goods without the relevant test certification. We will adopt the quality management system principles to either quarantine or even reject materials back to our suppliers that don’t meet our standards.

When it comes to our own unique processing, the more we enhance a product the more we have to prove (in terms of product measurement and testing), especially with regard to CE marking and construction products regulation. So now that we are really pushing our value added services, there will be more for Kevin to build upon and implement, which he welcomes.

Everything we do in terms of profiling whether laser cutting, water jet cutting, high-definition plasma cutting, Oxy-fuel cutting and plate drilling means the more we have to prove in satisfying specific customer requirements.

As for regulation and an adherence to standardisation, CE marking is strict on material testing and equipment efficiency. Specific tests are undertaken including quality of cut surfaces to satisfy stringent BS EN 1090-2 2008 requirements. Compliance is key, we would not go ahead and put a client’s work to a machine that has not been efficiency tested so it’s not just about the product we receive or the work we do, it’s also about whether our machinery is capable of undertaking and working to its maximum efficiency.

In summary, Kevin explains:

Quality is not just my responsibility, it’s the responsibility of everyone within Kloeckner Metals UK, every person within the company takes that very seriously and there is a vast awareness and appreciation as to the importance of Quality, no matter what role they perform.

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