A Buyer's Guide To Product Quality Compliance [Part 2: Sourcing Certified Suppliers] with FREE Certification Checklists

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Last week, in A Buyer’s Guide to Product Quality Compliance [Part 1: Taking Your First Steps], we looked at the initial steps buyers of custom manufactured parts should take to help them build a firm foundation for product quality compliance throughout their supply base.

This week, we’ll look at the almighty certification, and how it plays into your supplier selection process, especially when it comes to ensuring the quality -- and safety -- of your parts and products.


Not all suppliers and contract manufacturers are created equal. Sourcing one bad supplier can set your production back weeks, or even months. And in some particularly bad cases, it can doom a product before production's even started.

So as a sourcing professional, it's your job to make sure the custom parts suppliers you're sourcing are competent. That they actually meet the standards they say they hold themselves to. 

Essentially, you're the first line of defense -- and with that comes risk. 

But mitigating that risk can take les time than you think. 

Sourcing certified suppliers of custom manufactured parts helps buyers and sourcing professionals (just like you) do five very important things:

  1. Streamline the supplier qualification process
  2. Build a knowledgeable and skillful supply base
  3. Guarantee part and product quality -- and production precision
  4. Add value not only to customers, but also stakeholders and the company at large
  5. Increase the company’s competitive advantage, ensuring continued business success

Joanna Hubble, sourcing specialist at CCS-Inc puts it best: “Quality is the most important factor to the supplier selection process. In the eyes of your customer, if your supplier has poor quality, it’s a direct reflection on you, not the supplier.

If a supplier lets you down, you will let your customer down. If your supplier provides you with a low-quality component, it can negatively affect your delivery and cost.

When evaluating potential suppliers, try to determine whether their culture is centered on quality by asking the following: does the supplier have a quality program in place? Is the program instilled from the top-down?” 

Certifications help you figure all that out in one fell swoop. If a supplier is certified, it's a safe bet the company culture is centered on quality. 

Since 2013, more than 500 certified contract manufacturers and job shops have joined the Contract Manufacturing Marketplace, providing unprecedented quality to the design engineers, mechanical engineers, and product engineers that make up the majority of our sourcing members.

So, if you’re an engineer or sourcing professional and want to get your parts made to quality – every time – stayed tuned.

We’ll be examining 4 of the most common certifications to look out for (and exactly what they're for) when auditing your supply base or looking for new suppliers to fulfill your custom sourcing needs:

  • ISO 9000
  • ISO/TS 16949:2009
  • ISO 13485
  • AS9100

And if you’re already familiar with these certifications and the ramifications they have on supplier quality, skip ahead and find out the #1 Most Efficient Way to Validate the Authenticity of Supplier Certification.

The ISO 9000 Manufacturing Certification Family

Of all the certifications provided by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), the ISO 9000 family of manufacturing production standards is by far the most widely recognized in the industry – as well as the most used among Marketplace contract manufacturers and job shops.

According to recent MFGWatch 2016 data, more than 75% of contract manufacturers and job shops said they were ISO certified, with ISO 9001:2008 being the most widely used certification among those surveyed.

Overall, the ISO 9000 family of quality management protocols ensures that suppliers of custom manufactured parts adhere to a set of accepted industry-wide standards, and provide customers, buyers, and sourcing professionals with the quality demanded of their parts.

What’s more, these guidelines motivate custom parts suppliers to continually and consistently improve their quality procedures, making certain that their manufacturing processes are current and produce parts and products that are satisfactory to industry-wide quality standards.

In other words, if a shop is ISO 9000 certified, there’s a good chance they’re a quality shop capable of producing high-quality parts and products -- AND they're a shop you should heavily consider sourcing. 

RELATED: Log in or Register and Source ISO Certified Manufacturers on Now

Subcategories of the ISO 9000 Certification Family:

  • ISO 9001:2015 – “Specifies requirements for a quality management system when an organization needs to demonstrate its ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements, and aims to enhance customer satisfaction through the effective application of the system, including processes for improvement of the system and the assurance of conformity to customer and applicable statutory and regulatory requirements.”
  • ISO 9000:2015 – “Describes the fundamental concepts and principles of quality management”
  • ISO 9004:2009 – “Provides guidance to organizations to support the achievement of sustained success by a quality management approach. It is applicable to any organization, regardless of size, type, and activity.”
  • ISO 19011:2011 – “Provides guidance on auditing management systems, including the principles of auditing, managing an audit program, and conducting management system audits, as well as guidance on the evaluation of competence of individuals involved in the audit process, including the person managing the audit program, auditors, and audit teams.”

RELATED: Download Your FREE ISO 9001:2008 Auditing Checklist Now


Predominantly used in the automotive industry to define quality management standards throughout the supply chain, ISO/TS 16949:2009 was first issued by the International Automotive Task Force to ensure product quality compliance among automotive manufacturers.

According to the International Organization for Standardization, the ISO/TS 16949:2009 certification “defines the quality management system requirements for the design and development, production and, when relevant, installation, and service of automotive-related products.

ISO/TS 16949:2009 is applicable to organizations where customer-specified parts, for production and/or service, are manufactured.”

Essentially, the protocol is designed to:

  • Nurture continuous improvement throughout a supply base
  • Prevent part and product defects throughout the manufacturing process
  • Ensure consistency throughout a supply chain and manufacturing processes
  • Reduce and/or eliminate unnecessary manufacturing waste

Moreover, a primary and inalienable requirement of the protocol is the provision of and adherence to customer-specific quality prerequisites, in conjunction with the quality management of each individual custom parts supplier.

RELATED: Download Your FREE ISO/TS 16949:2009 Audit Checklist Now


If you’re a buyer, product engineer, or sourcing professional looking to source custom manufactured parts for medical devices, the certification you’ll want to keep an eye out for is the ISO 13485 product quality certification.

According to the ISO, the “ISO 13485 [protocol] is designed to be used by organizations involved in the design, production, installation, and servicing of medical devices and related services [to] consistently meet customer requirements and regulatory requirements applicable to medical devices and related services.”

In other words, ISO 13485 indicates that a contract manufacturer or job shop is adequately capable and prepared to deliver high-quality parts for custom manufactured medical devices.

RELATED: Download Your FREE ISO 13485 Audit Checklist Now


First released in 1999 by the Society of Automotive Engineers, the AS9100 product quality protocol is widely used throughout the aerospace manufacturing sector to nurture a sector-wide product quality philosophy of only the highest caliber.

Unlike some other quality protocols, AS9100 cleanly incorporates into the ISO 9100 quality standard, working in conjunction with ISO 9100 protocols to create stronger quality management systems. Together, these two standards certify that manufacturers in the aerospace vertical are, on the vast majority, producing safety-critical parts at extremely high quality values.

According to BSIGroup, the “AS9100 series is used and supported by the world’s leading aerospace companies and applied throughout their supply chains. The AS9100 series can be used by organizations across the sector, including design, manufacturing, maintenance, and distributing companies.”

RELATED: Download Your FREE AS9100 Audit Checklist Now


1.) Ask to See Proof of the Certification (First Layer of Due Diligence)

Each type of certification, whether i's an ISO certification or another, is issued by either a registrar or certifying organization, such as the International Organization for Standardization, OSHA, Underwriter’s Laboratory, or ASQ, to name a few.  

Consequently, any certification in question will have the name or seal of the issuer somewhere on the physical certification.

Ask the contract manufacturer or job shop to send you a copy of the certification in question, either physical or digital, so that you can confirm the certification is legitimate.

If you have the ability, checking this certification in person is the optimal way to verify authenticity.

2.) Contact the Certification’s Issuer (Second Layer of Due Diligence)

You can call – or email – the certification’s issuer to confirm that the certification in question is A.) legitimate, and B.) that the supplier in question is up to date on his/her certifications.

The certification issuer should have this information on file, and such information 100% free to obtain.

3.) Check the Issuer’s Online Registry (Third Layer of Due Diligence)

If you want to perform an extra layer of due diligence after contacting the issuer via telephone or email, you may search the issuer’s online certification registry. Any contract manufacturer, job shop, or custom parts supplier that has received a certification from that issuer should be in that issuer’s online registry.

However, don’t rely solely on this method of verification because online registries are sometimes not up to date, and thus, could display incorrect information.


As part of the Global Contract Manufacturing Marketplace, you have unprecedented access to the world’s largest contract manufacturer directory, which collects invaluable certification data on all marketplace manufacturers in one easy-to-access, highly secure platform.

As a buyer of custom manufactured parts, we know you don’t always have the time to pick up the phone and call the countless certification issuers around the globe.

That’s why we fill out every supplier profile – where applicable – with the data you need to make the best possible sourcing decisions when and where it’s most convenient for you.

At, we include this extra layer of due diligence as part of our service to you. It’s 100% free to search for and find expert, certified suppliers on And with more than 85% of our suppliers holding at least one certification, there's a really good chance our global manufacturing database has an expert manufacturer for your sourcing needs, whether it’s CNC machining, fabrication, additive manufacturing or anything in between.

Log in or register for FREE today, and start sourcing certified contract manufacturers that can fulfill your sourcing needs NOW.

And if you skipped though the article to find out what all the fuss was about, make sure you download your FREE audit checklists below: 

ISO 9001:2008 (2015)*

ISO/TS 1649:2009

ISO 13485


*Courtesy and copyright of GE

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