Quality is not only offering a product that exceeds the standard, it is also about the reputation gained for consistently delivering customer satisfaction that goes above and beyond. Managing quality is therefore crucial. This is the view of Denise Conradie, the Quality Assurance and Technical Manager at Lonza Wood Protection SA.

Denise Conradie (centre) with the Lonza management team (from left): Martin Reddy (Environmental Health & Safety Manager); Kesun Govender (Operations Manager); JJ du Plessis (Senior Business Manager) and Ross Skorpen (Financial Manager). Image credit: Lonza

Denise Conradie (centre) with the Lonza management team (from left): Martin Reddy (Environmental Health & Safety Manager); Kesun Govender (Operations Manager); JJ du Plessis (Senior Business Manager) and Ross Skorpen (Financial Manager). Image credit: Lonza

Conradie, who holds a master’s degree in wood science, a bachelor’s degree of science and an MDP with Stellenbosch University, has managed Lonza’s product compliance and quality assurance for the past 17 years.

“Factors such as competition, product complexity and technological developments in the wood treatment sector, have enhanced the importance of quality to such an extent that customers do not make choices solely based on price. This is why stringent quality assurance and quality control practices – which comply with national and international regulations and standards such as ISO – are of paramount importance in our operation,” says Conradie.’

Against this background, the fundamental elements of Lonza’s quality management system are continuously undergoing improvement.

“As chemists working in quality assurance, we are constantly looking towards finding ways to reduce the possibility of error in the manufacturing methods by using a big-picture view of product quality. Quality assurance therefore becomes a series of activities that are determined before production even begins and continues throughout the whole production cycle.  Through this approach, our quality management methodologies and techniques ensure that the test results on the raw material and that achieved on the finished product, are thoroughly validated,” explains Conradie.

Furthermore, Lonza has installed processes to monitor, manage and resolve any possible out-of-spec result and/or results deviating from the norm. Should this be the case, intense investigations and extensive root cause analysis studies are performed to identify the non-compliance and to ensure that actions are put in place to prevent any re-occurrence in the future. “This system helps us to identify any potential problems before a Tanalised® product leaves the factory,” adds Conradie.

To remain consistent with the global Lonza Quality Policy and ensure customer satisfaction, the company re-evaluates its quality management objectives each year. These objectives are based on three important components – high accuracy, compliance with applicable industry standards and high customer satisfaction. The process involves advanced planning, written procedures and working instructions that are documented and developed for use during the production and testing of Tanalised® products at Lonza’s treatment plant and laboratory in KwaZulu-Natal. These documents then form part of the QMS (Quality Management System), which is audited annually and certified against the International ISO 9001 standard compliance requirements.

Lonza is an ISO 9001:2015 certified company and a member of the Chemical Allied Industry Association and as such undergoes an audit and re-certification by third party ISO 9001 Auditors  every year and a CAIA auditor every three years – which contributes to its  ‘Enhanced Safety’ benefits.

“To ensure the accurate measurement of volumes sold to our customers, our measuring devices – such as loadcells and scales – are also subjected to annual certification and third-party audits to ensure 100% accuracy,” says Conradie.

Looking to the future, Conradie believes that the only way to safeguard the continued and sustainable long-term growth of the treated timber industry is by supplying products that not only conform to the grade specifications of the wood used in structural and pole applications, but also deliver the performance that customers have been promised and have come to expect.

“In a time when quality weighs above everything else, we need to make quality management control systems centre stage in achieving flawless manufacturing processes. I believe that trust is the most powerful sales accelerator and it is earned every time a product speaks for itself,” concludes Conradie.