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GDS Technologies Case Study

18 November 2020
Market leaders in the manufacture of gas detection equipment GDS Technologies scores a hat-trick.

GDS offer a wide product range together with the ability to design and manufacture bespoke fixed gas detection systems, they are equipped to offer solutions in all market sectors and environments, providing ongoing support: from site surveys, design and training, through to commissioning and project handover.

Socially Responsible Corporate Ethos

As a socially responsible company GDS already had a strong health and safety culture and commitment to environmental awareness. Their journey began when they became the first gas detection manufacturer in the UK to achieve BS 5750.
Having held ISO 9001 certification since 1993 with NQA; their health and safety consultant at the time suggested they should work towards OHSAS 18001, which was later migrated to ISO 45001 (the internationally recognised standard for Occupational Health and Safety).
Being one of the first gas detection companies to achieve ISO 9001 certification made GDS stand out amongst their competitors, their Managing Director was keen to capitalise on their existing health and safety and environmental activities to achieve certification to ISO 14001 too. Ensuring GDS once again stand out as one of the few elite companies in their sector to have achieved all three standards.
Laura Fletcher, NQA Commercial and Customer Experience Director adds: “ISO 9001, ISO 14001 and ISO 45001 are about professional credibility. By having all 3 standards, GDS are making a statement of intent that they are continuously striving to evolve as a company and be the very best.”

A Culture of Quality, Safety and Environmental Sustainability

All three standards are incorporated into an integrated system, ensuring they work together to create a culture of quality, safety, and environmental sustainability. By linking and combining all three standards together, GDS have been able to implement and demonstrate changes which in turn have resulted in significant improvements to all three areas.
For example, when GDS deployed enhanced networked technology solutions, it was a project that started out as a Quality initiative, delivering production efficiency and more robust procedures. However, the benefits perpetuated to Environment and Health and Safety areas through a significant reduction in waste paper and printer toner, and a further reduction in physical handling of materials, preventing possible cross contaminations, which was found to be particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

GDS Technologies Ltd, Production Manager, John Hicks adds “Working within an integrated system makes it is easier to manage one all-encompassing management system than three separate ones. Additionally, having an integrated system creates unified goals and objectives that are aligned with each other rather than being conflicting.”

Commitment to Project Management

GDS Technologies Ltd, John Hicks used his previous experience of overseeing the ISO 9001 transition and implementing ISO 14001 from scratch to his advantage.
Whilst it was challenging to add Health and Safety to that portfolio and integrate it seamlessly into the existing management system, he found NQA’s webinars and Gap Analysis tools a great support, helping to give the project a clear direction. 
Once GDS had a clear plan the biggest impact was the changes to their waste management procedures; which were extended from manufacturing waste to all waste including, office, cleaning, and food. They made some remarkable advances, from 7% of office waste being recycled in 2019, to 48% in 2020!
John worked with the Leadership Team and the Health and Safety Officer to assist and guide the development of the project for achieving OHSAS 18001 and later the migration to ISO 45001.

Why NQA were a Good Fit

Having worked with NQA for over 25 years GDS felt they were in safe hands. With a clear philosophy to continually improve, GDS appreciate the level of experience and consistent approach that NQA auditors bring.
“GDS Technologies have been extremely committed to the ongoing development of their management system over the years, this has helped underpin strong company performance and enhance worker safety.” Terry Fisher, NQA Occupational Health and Safety Principal Assessor
Having held their certification for so long, GDS are extremely familiar with the auditing process and found it relatively easy to prepare all the information required in advance. Although this time there were some concerns; as the audit would take place remotely (due to COVID) – a new experience for all involved.  
Like a lot of clients GDS had their reservations as to how well the audit would ‘flow’ and ensuring technology would work consistently throughout the day. To ensure the audit ran successfully, they tested their remote meeting facilities in the days before the audit to ensure there would be no technical hitches on day one. During the audit, the experience of the NQA auditors was clear, and ensured the whole process was smooth and not too dissimilar to regular audits.

Look to a Bright Future

GDS’ business focus for the future is to continue to strengthen the framework for all processes, further embedding the culture of a unified, integrated, and formalised way of working throughout their business. As new legislations and regulations are introduced, GDS look to expand on their certification portfolio to appropriately enhance their business.
GDS Technologies Ltd, IOSH & NEBOSH qualified OHSE Officer, Rena Paul commented: ‘’People do people things. No matter how many controls we have in place to keep everyone safe, certified management systems ensure we have every possible control in place to minimise these risks’’

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