Companies can gain big by adopting effective operating systems
Adopting international operating standards like ISO 9001:2008 helped Solon Corp better build its new 100,000 square-foot facility.

As a global leader in complete photovoltaic systems, Tucson’s Solon Corp. understands effective management systems are critical for establishing and improving business performance. In building its new 100,000 square-foot manufacturing facility at 6950 S. Country Club Road near Tucson International Airport, a strategic goal of the Solon Group was to ensure it operated under an internationally recognized operational and environmental management system.

The management team of Solon knew that interpretation and application of the ISO 9001:2008 Quality Management System Standard and 14001 Environmental Management System Standard required knowledge and a comprehensive approach for a robust system and effective process documentation. 

We needed an experienced consultant who could lead us through this project and be adaptable to the numerous activities, processes, and personnel involved in developing a new solar manufacturing plant,” said Jon Sams, manager of administration for Solon Corporation. My firm, Sustaining Edge Solutions, provided consulting for Solon. Many businesses can benefit in the longterm financially and efficiently by adopting standardized practices and systems. A true team approach was used in the process of defining, documenting, and establishing the organization’s operational and environmental systems. Companies that operate under these global standards focus on continuous review of operations, prevention rather than detection, corrective actions and accurate outcomes, communication within processes, company personnel, suppliers, and customers. These attributes lead to predictable process inputs and outputs, control of business costs, increased productivity, and reduced waste.  A high level of management commitment and involvement that supports a customer-focused environment is essential. 

Providing complete photovoltaic systems for the construction of solar power plants requires a detailed and dynamic product design and development system. 

Olaf Koester, president and CEO of Solon, said, “Our products must meet specific customer and power requirements. We create integrated customized systems that can be roof mounted, ground mounted, or specific modules with unique requirements. We now have a detailed and documented delivery system specific to our needs that defines our process requirements from proposal to aftermarket support.” 

Another benefit this system has brought to the company is an effective performance measurement system.

“Performance measurement is helping us identify the capabilities of our processes and keeping the focus on our key business metrics. Our employees are aware of our measures and this helps us all to understand and improve on what’s important to our customers and our business growth,” Koester said.                                              

As a steward of renewable sources and ecological change, the environment is a key business factor of a solar energy company. Solon’s Environmental Management System (EMS) provides the company a framework to consistently control and maintain its impact on the environment and continually improve its business operations. ISO 14001, Environmental System Standard sometimes referred to as the “green” standard, establishes specific requirements for developing a comprehensive environmental management system. The standard requires the company identify its environmental aspects, products or services that can interact with the environment and their impact, changes to the environment. 

Mike Messina, environmental and quality manager for Solon, is responsible for many features of the EMS.

“Our EMS is a large part of who we are, what we produce, and what our customers and the public expect from us.  Implementing this system drove us to determine what activities, products, and services we must control and to demonstrate sound environmental performance,” Messina said.

Whether your business is a manufacturer or a service enterprise, these proven operational systems provide a competitive advantage and a powerful marketing tool in today’s highly competitive global marketplace.

Contact Walter Tighe, president of Sustaining Edge Solutions Inc., at walter.tighe@sustainingedge.com. Sustaining Edge Solutions is a management systems consulting and training firm. It’s website is www.sustainingedge.com