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14/05/2018 / Graham Lowe

Mitigating Risk to Ensure Global Life Safety Compliance

ShaneBartlettBlog

Manufacturing life safety products for the global marketplace often means navigating a complex, ever-changing landscape of compliance and certification. At Hochiki Europe, my responsibility is to ensure we communicate effectively as a team and that our innovative products meet current and future internationally-agreed standards.

Managing differing standards

As Hochiki Europe’s compliance manager, I work in the company’s recently expanded UK headquarters in Kent with my team, helping cover compliance in terms of quality, health, safety, and environmental standards. This involves a vast array of different daily tasks, including liaising with industry accreditors, managing workflows, talking to customers about their individual requirements and ensuring we can meet their expectations.

Fire safety system standards vary around the world. For example, the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) sets internationally agreed guidelines for products entering the European market place. At the same time, UL covers products entering the Middle East and American markets. For this reason, we need to make sure the devices we’re creating meet or exceed these global standards, so our customers can rest assured they’re receiving ultra-reliable products of the highest quality.

Success through collaboration

It’s been an extremely busy year for us at Hochiki Europe, with a record year in terms of business success, and the compliance team has worked tirelessly to support sales in regions around the world. There’s also a lot going on over the next few months with the new General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) set to completely shake up the way companies interact with their customers. Here, we’re on track to be fully-compliant with the new regulations by the time they come into force and we’re working closely with our suppliers to make sure they are as well. We’re also working on a new integrated management system – which will guarantee a ‘one system fits all’ approach for all of our departments and stakeholders when dealing with compliance processes.

Although it has been a busy time for our department, it’s also been successful in a number of ways. In March 2017, we became the first fire safety business to be awarded both ISO 9001:2015 and 14001:2015 standards. This was a fantastic achievement and completely down to effective team work and communication throughout the company. ISO 9001 sets the internationally recognised benchmark for quality management systems while ISO 14001 looks at how businesses manage their environmental responsibilities. To have achieved both of these accreditations throughout the business is a massive achievement and everyone involved should be extremely proud of the work they’ve done.

In terms of our RMA (return material authorisation) processes, we’ve also made great strides in this area recently. Our customers can now call us with any concerns around products, be dealt with immediately and be given a unique number once they’ve given us some basic information. Ultimately, we aim to complete a full investigation into the matter within 30 days.

Ensuring we can identify risks and opportunities quickly means we can make continual improvements to all our processes and pass the benefits on to our customers. This is why we adopt a systematic approach to product approvals, making sure every issue is dealt with in a timely manner. Currently, Hochiki Europe is leading the way in terms of creating solutions which are synonymous with quality and reliability. By keeping them certified with the latest standards and by implementing processes which ensure quality and responsible production, our customers are assured that the systems they purchase meet every expectation.

With an extensive background dealing with compliance in the automotive, plastics, medical industries and the military, Shane Bartlett brought his expertise and industry relationships to the Hochiki Europe family in 2016. With a focus on continuous improvement and collaborative working, Shane manages an industry-leading team which oversee a robust system of risk management for the business.

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