Standards help Chelsea Sugar lift the game

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Issue 44 – November 2012

The Chelsea Sugar refinery has been supplying New Zealand homes and businesses with sugar products since 1884. The company (New Zealand Sugar Company) is still operating from its original site at Birkenhead on Auckland's north shore and over the years the name Chelsea has become a trusted, iconic brand. Quality Manager, Robert Crow, puts the company's longevity down to its ability to adapt in a forever-changing environment and its adherence to rigorous Standards.

'Standards are a good way to set benchmarks', says Robert. 'You may think that as a company you are doing OK but you don't really know until you benchmark against those Standards.'

Robert believes the ability to operate in a sustainable way is important. Chelsea is committed to mitigating any adverse impacts the business might have on the environment and resources that have allowed it to operate for so long. Intrinsic to this commitment is the ISO 14001 environmental management systems Standard, which requires the company to list all areas where pollution could occur whether in air, water, or ground and outline what steps it is taking to reduce those risks.

Robert says that this Standard in particular gives reassurance to organisations like the local council; Chelsea operates from an iconic site in the city so it gives the council confidence that the area will be protected.

Another important Standard for Chelsea is the recently created Food Safety System Certification (FSSC) 22000 food safety Standard, which is made up of the ISO 22000 food safety management system Standard and the ISO/TS 22002-1:2009 prerequisite programmes on food safety Standards. Robert says that FSSC 22000 is the Standard many of their larger international clients insist upon as an assurance that food ingredients are free of contaminates and are safe to use.

'FSSC 22000 really helps us internationally. It means we can compete with anyone overseas.

'We also use a range of industry specific Standards such as ISO 17025 General requirements for the competence of testing and calibration laboratories – these are microbiology tests: for example, sugar and milk tests for protein, fat, and water content. We export milk powder/sugar blends to countries like Japan for use in products such as canned coffee and soy sauce. The Japanese are very particular about food safety Standards.

'Our certified ISO 9001 (2008) Standard is another quality Standard recognised by larger international companies such as Nestlé, Griffins, and Coca Cola. It gives them confidence that our products meet the Standards required and it gives us a 'backbone' to our systems. It gives us something we can base our specifications, buying procedures, calibrating equipment, those sorts of things, on.'

Robert believes Standards help lift the performance of companies, ensuring continuous improvement.

'The newer Standards in particular are of a higher level', he says.

'In New Zealand there are no tariffs or barriers to overseas competition so we have to continually lift our game to compete and Standards help us to do that.'

Note: Standards New Zealand is New Zealand's representative for the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and ensures that New Zealand has a voice in the international Standards community.

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Published in business and ICT.

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