Let's hear it for Quality!
The Pesqueria Power Plant in Mexico has notched up an unprecedented achievement just last month: it’s the first Tecpetrol project to obtain ISO 9001:2015 certification.
Certification for an international quality standard takes time, a great deal of effort and a long-standing commitment to continuous improvement. For Tecpetrol’s Management and Quality department, the process was not an easy one, and the pandemic context only served to exacerbate the challenges, but the team rose to the occasion nonetheless and successfully led all the areas involved to achieve its goal.
Compliance with certification regulations is a frequent requirement in the country's electricity sector, which is why many of those working at the power plant felt this was a pending assignment and were committed to achieving it from the word go. Succeeding also means the bar is now high when it comes to supplying energy to the Ternium, Tenigal and Tenaris-Tamsa facilities with a high level of excellence.
Fausto González Ruiz, Head of Management and Quality, is understandably proud of the achievement and explained that "The first step was to convince Senior Management of the advantages of having international Quality certification. They immediately committed to this process and were instrumental in driving the other areas to sign up for the initiative.”
To carry out the process, the team acquired specialized Quality Management Systems software to ensure compliance with all the requirements set by the ISO 9001:2015 Standard. This includes a detailed roster of procedures focused on development and authorization, as well as risk analysis, process mapping, audit programming and monitoring, and action observation, in addition to a raft of legal requirements and indicators, among others. Over 700 hours of training were invested in helping the team to meet these standards, enabling a powerful tool to be developed, able to host all the processes required. Implementation was challenging but fluid, and thanks to the fact that several colleagues already understood the Management Systems, the customized development was correspondingly easier to put into practice.
Laura Piña, Quality Engineer and member of the implementation team, stepped up to the challenge: “I knew this would mean a lot of work, even more so when strategies had to change as the pandemic spread. However, each achievement motivated me to keep moving forward and I was confident that we would reach the goal, as I saw just how much everyone was involved. The entire team put every effort they could into making this work.”
Despite being in the midst of the pandemic, they pressed on with the implementation of the system with the support of all personnel and a strong push from the Management and Quality team. One of the main challenges was the implementation of a skills assessment program, something that the company had wanted to bring in for a long time. "We took an in-depth look at all the positions, creating and uploading their profiles into the system, so as to draw up a skills matrix capable of evaluating each employee in order to detect training needs, which were finally reflected in a tailored training plan, among other actions," recalls Fausto.
Auditing effort and quality
This year, the finishing touch was the final certification exam. They started with internal audits followed by the pre-audit, a process which culminated in two audits performed by the Registered Certification Body, Lloyd's Register Quality Assurance, Inc., which finally awarded them the recognition.
“The path to certification is demanding but, at the end of the day, extremely rewarding. We’ve been improving our practices, aware that there’s always an opportunity to do the job better using efficient, transparent and measurable processes to achieve the highest operating standards. This will enable us to become a benchmark in the industry, instilling greater confidence in our customers,” comments Carlos Gutiérrez, from Economic-Financial Planning and Continuous Improvement.
In fact, the achievement was a double-whammy, as the Certification Audits did not highlight any findings, demonstrating the level of impeccable preparation on the part of the entire team. In the Auditor's words: "The evidence presented determines a very robust system in terms of quality."
Jorge Hernández, Electrical Maintenance Technician, explains that "The certification helped us to align the objectives of our organization, and better understand internal processes; it taught us that any suggestion can contribute to continuous improvement and motivate both supplier and customer."
And the story does not end here, as the Central team is now working to improve and fine-tune the system, which will undoubtedly lead to recertification by 2024.
“I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity and the trust placed in me to allow me to participate in the development of this great project. We’ve received the support of Senior Management, the Quality team, Techgen staff and External staff, and we’re all doing our part to bring about such a far-reaching organizational change,” concludes Alma Rivera, Operational Engineer.
Learn more about the Pesquería Power Plant project.