Are You ISO Certified?


This is a common question for bearing manufacturers and refers to ISO and/or TS certification. These acronyms have been tossed around for so long that newer buyers know to ask the question, but may be unaware of what the different levels of certification mean.

What is ISO Certification?

ISO certification – from the International Organization for Standardization – was established in 1947 to ensure that production processes were stable and consistent through the use of a quality management system (QMS). This QMS is based on eight management principles:

  • Customer Focus
  • Leadership
  • Engagement of People
  • Process Approach
  • System Approach to Management
  • Continuous Improvement
  • Evidence-based decision making
  • Relationship Management

In order to become certified, a company must undergo a documentation process that is audited and verified by a third party.

Understand that being certified does not mean that a factory produces great products. It simply means that the company is committed to a method of quality management described in the documentation.

ISO/TS 16949

While ISO measures process, TS measures technical specifications. Developed in 1999, it is rooted in the automotive industry as it was prepared by the International Automotive Task Force and ISO. The purpose of TS 16949 is to define a QMS that emphasize defect prevention and the reduction of variation and waste. It applies to the design, development and production of products. Areas of measurement include engineering specifications, product realization, and measurement, analysis and improvement.

ISO 14001

When a company is ISO 14001 certified, it means that the organization has an environmental management system (EMS). An EMS is a methodical approach to handling environmental issues within the organization.

A primary focus of an EMS system is to reuse resources and if they are unable to be reprocessed, recycle as much as possible.


Quality management systems that are audited by European organizations are considered the highest level of certification. So when speaking with suppliers, the follow up question about whether or not they are certified is “What organization certified your QMS?” Then research the auditor’s reputation.