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Strengthening Competitive Position: Two Case Studies

Case Study 1: CSX Signal Shop 

Talmadge J. (TJ) Pittman, CSX Signal Shop, Savannah GA, has always managed in a system where ISO 9001 was the governing standard. When asked if he were promoted would he implement ISO 9000 in the region under his control, made the following statement:

“I believe the 9000 system is extremely beneficial for not just our world at the Savannah Signal Shop, but also for other departments within our company. If or when there was a personal advancement opportunity available, the tools offered through this system would be necessary to ensure a quality-end-result for the customer. Whether it is Project Management, Design, Construction, or Maintenance, the quality management system can play a vital role in each process.

The Quality Management System assists me with getting the right result the right way in several different areas. One of the first components to this system is work standardization, which has proved to be successful with not just increased production, but also support’s a quality-end-product.

Using this tool has also proved to be successful at training a less tenured workforce.

The second important part that can be implemented is the internal auditing process. This process is also very important to make sure your processes that have been implemented and are being sustained correctly. All front-line positions with our company require specialized tools to maintain our vital components. It is very important to ensure the calibration is performed, documented, and up to date on this equipment. The QMS will also let you stay on top of keeping this calibration maintained.

Maintaining our infrastructure requires many different components with a necessary inventory of unique supplies and materials. If you are going to keep this on track and ensure the right part for the right equipment then it must be identified with very specific information. This again will also increase production by eliminating the loss of time in part identification.

Last but not least, with everything we procure we have to hold our suppliers accountable for any problems that are identified with their products. The necessary tool for this is the Vendor Discrepancy Report process which requires the manufacturer to develop a corrective and preventative action plan. The Internal Discrepancy Report is also very beneficial for our organization to address any issues found with our customers and become more focused at supplying a quality product that consistently meets their requirements.”

CSX Signal Shop has been registered to ISO 9001 since 2001.  It was a customer requirement at the time.  They now ensure their organization is on target by managing their business with the system.  It is the way they live;  it isn’t something they do in addition to their work.  CSX Signal has 68 employees and repair and refurbishes railroad signal equipment and manufacture wire houses and utility poles for signal crossings.  ISO 9001 is used to ensure that the items that leave the shop meet the expectations of their clients.  What they produce is the “brain” that keeps railroad signals communicating with us, the public.  So, what they do keeps us safe.  Thus, they must have the insurance of knowing their products and services are consistent and that they are improving their processes.

Case Study 2: I-Automation 

I-Automation has been certified to ISO 9001 since 1998. Their system was a cumbersome system with long documents and many documents. It took hours to read their procedures. I-Automation is a busy place and frankly, no one had time to “read” and no one was getting paid to “read”. So, they needed a system as agile as them. After all, their customers expect the quick turn around and excellent service. The system had to be flexible due to many products being one time productions. I-Automation makes the control panels that go into manufacturing machinery; their control panels give the machines the instructions to do their work whether that work is moving a bottled le beer, baked bread, machined parts, and assembling components.

Randy Goneau is Vice-President of I-Automation whose headquarters are in North Attleboro Massachusetts. When asked if he were to go to another organization without ISO 9001, would he implement it and why here was his response:
“I have to make some comments first. ISO 9001 gives you a focused organization that is dedicated to top-level business ‘best practices’. The standard is a summary of where a business should focus. It outlines requirements that if met will go along the way to building a strong and successful business. It’s well understood that our customers are constantly driving us to change and demanding more/better/additional services from us.

We must be agile enough to keep up with these changes and need a structure that allows us to be adaptable to the new demands. We can’t lose where we are, just because a customer has a new expectation. We have to retain and build on what we were doing. Our quality system allows to keep up with these changes and be adaptable to the new demands.

The ISO 9001 Standard itself is constantly improving. Every 6 years or so the best-practices of great organizations are studied and these principles are incorporated into the newly published standards keeping your quality system focused and up to date.

Access to ISO 9001 professionals also comes with implementing ISO 9001. It’s like having a team of Doctors on your side. If you are feeling ill and you just want a check-up or need major surgery, talk with the specialists and they cater to your individual needs. You tell them what hurts and they help diagnose the problem and put you on the road to full recovery. They cannot consult. They don’t tell you what to do but, help you think through what could be done to make you better.










This mark speaks to your customers and lets them know that you are following established business best practices that focus a business on how to fulfill their customer’s needs correctly and on time, every time. It says you have a corrective action system should they need it. It says you are carefully choosing your suppliers or partners. It means your people are assessed for their competence and gaps are closed. ISO 9001 Certification means you will police yourself to ensure you are following the requirements of the standard.
Countless ‘vendor qualification’ surveys from our customers come out each year. There is a lot of time and effort to fill these surveys out. Many of the surveys, I dare say 85%; require simply a signature and an ISO certification. If you do not have a certification, then continue to fill out all of the surveys.

So, to answer the question: If you were promoted or put in a company without ISO 9001, would you implement it and why?

This answer to your question is fairly easy, why reinvent the wheel. Use what has been built to make you a successful organization. Use ISO 9001. It has built a foundation for many years and continues to build a foundation for doing business successfully. So yes, I would implement ISO 9001 if I had to go to a place where a system did not exist.”

In Brief

These gentlemen speak from experience. As the third party auditor for both systems, I can attest that they use the system to manage how their people do their work and they follow the plans of their quality management system.

Even during the ups and downs of the economy, these companies have both grown in market share. Their adherence to the principles of ISO 9001 has fostered their ability to provide a consistent product and continually improve their customers’ satisfaction.




The value of ISO 9001 certification is undeniable. As a founding element of an effective and quality culture ISO 9001 is expected to increase customer satisfaction after its implementation while also improving operational efficiency. Training and certifying against ISO 9001 does, though, increase the competence of staff within your organization and facilitates the abovementioned benefits. Refer to PECB for superior training and globally recognized ISO 9001 certification.

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