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Ruth Lee Case Study

06 August 2019
UK based manikin and training aid manufacturer Ruth Lee uses ISO 9001 to ensure they are providing consistent quality to the country’s most important national services.

Ruth Lee is a world-leading provider of lifelike manikins and training aids to rescue training experts worldwide such as fire & Rescue Services, Paramedics, Ministry of Defence, Airports, National Lifeboat Institutions & Coastguards, Offshore operators and a multitude of International Search & Rescue organisations. They currently supply to 100% of the UK services.

They have been operating in the industry for nearly 60 years and manufacturing rescue training manikins for over 25 years and pride themselves in bringing training to life; making it as realistic as possible to replicate true to life scenarios. With unrivalled experience and knowledge Ruth Lee are recognised as the clear market leader within the UK and Europe in this critical and much needed industry.

Ruth Lee’s workforce currently stands at around 25 staff and they operate from 2 sites. The Head Office is based at Glyndyfrdwy, Corwen, Denbighshire and comprises of office facilities, training and meeting rooms but also includes some manufacture and material storage. In addition a short distance away in Corwen is a manufacturing facility engaged in goods receipt, storage, cutting, sewing, assembly, packaging and distribution.

Life saving certification

Ruth Lee decided that in order to improve their business consistency moving forward they needed to standardise and control their current processes. This led to them implementing ISO 9001:2008 and undertaking internal audits to regularly analyse business processes. Impressively, since achieving certification to ISO 9001 the company has seen overall efficiency grow by nearly 80% and manikins are now being manufactured and deployed 12% faster than previously. In turn, this is gaining more positive feedback from their current customer base and is winning Ruth Lee more business, proving to be a strong competitive edge when tendering.

Time to modernise

Although the company held ISO 9001:2008 certification for over 10 years, senior management believed that in order to make the transition over to the new 2015 standard they needed a consultant to come in, evaluate their processes and modernise their systems, making sure that they were still working and evolving efficiently.

Nick Wright, NQA Managing Director says "It’s great to see ISO 9001 being adopted and utilised within such a crucial industry. Ruth Lee are under a great deal of pressure to provide top quality products, which they do exceptionally well and having a robust quality management system in place means they can polish their processes and continue to propel their business forward".

This project came as a challenge to Ruth Lee as their current processes had been in place for a significant period of time and updating these means ensuring the internal team understood the need for change and were on board with the decision.

They found it important to keep the entire organisation invested and so the updates and direction of the  certification and audits were communicated regularly with staff members via informal meetings, notice board, internal emails, and training. This ensured that a ‘one goal’ approach is adopted across all employees.

Reaping the rewards

The company are already seeing the benefits and aligning their strategy with their ever improving management system. Having a system in place which enables them to provide consistent quality and follow structure has allowed them, in turn, to provide a more efficient and trustworthy product which their customers are raving about.

Susan Edwards, Operations Director at Ruth Lee explained "One of the aspects we liked most about working with NQA was our auditor Karen Whitby, she was professional and thorough but made us feel comfortable and is genuinely interested in our business and our continuing success. She helped us to understand that she is there to show that we are demonstrating compliance, not to catch us out or trip us up".

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