If you’re looking to ship bulk freight, brokers can be an invaluable asset to your operation. Instead of sourcing capacity among carriers one-by-one, a bulk freight broker enables you to match your load with a broad network of bulk carriers – all with one single call to the broker. But, with new brokerage companies popping up all the time, it can be difficult to separate the top freight brokers from the lesser ones.
In this article, we’ll explore a key factor that can help you make this distinction: ISO 9001 certification.
What is ISO 9001 Certification?
The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) is an international, and independent, entity that develops performance standards based on expertly-agreed-upon methods of performing tasks. There are 21,769 ISO standards and thus 21,769 tasks for which quality-based performance methods have been set by experts in their related fields.
Quality management (the “9001” of ISO 9001) is one of these standards. It sets policies, procedures and processes for companies to follow to ensure that their services or products meet regulatory and customer requirements. These policies, procedures, and processes are established in the following areas:
- Customer focus
- Involvement of people
- Process approach
- System approach to management
- Continuous improvement
- Factual approach to decision making
- Mutually-beneficial supplier relationships
Certification is not performed by ISO itself, but rather through external organizations. Certification in ISO 9001 can take several months or much longer to complete, as it involves a long period of training along with regular audits.
How does ISO 9001 distinguish top freight brokers from the rest?
As a shipper, you may think “I don’t really care if my broker is certified by ISO or any other system, I just want my load to get where it needs to go.” But, let’s look at the last part of that sentence. There’s a lot involved in that load getting where it needs to go – from the initial phone call to the final delivery. Do you want all those steps governed by expertly-defined standards and performed by professionals thoroughly trained on those standards? Or, do you feel comfortable with key members of your supply chain just winging it? The answer is obvious.
Working with ISO-9001-certified freight brokers is important for several additional reasons:
- ISO companies need ISO vendors. If your company is ISO-certified or adheres to another quality management system, your certification will likely dictate that you work with similarly certified vendors.
- ISO adds a layer of protection. If, heaven forbid, you should ever have a problem with a load that results in a legal matter, you will want to show that you performed due diligence in sourcing your transportation partner(s). ISO certification speaks to that due diligence and to the quality of the partner you choose.
- ISO informs stringent carrier screening. As part of our ISO-based processes, Bulk Connection has an internal compliance team that reviews the files of the carriers in our network – their insurance, DOT issues, citations, etc. We then adjust their rating if necessary. We rate our carriers on a scale, from “always happy to work with” to “never work with.”
- ISO provides peace of mind. Once certified, ISO-certified companies must undergo regular audits to remain certified. This means that auditors from the certification company routinely visit the people and facilities of the ISO-certified company and audit its processes, policies, and procedures. Continued certification, therefore, not only means that the company is complying with ISO standards, it also shows that it has a real facility with real people – a common uncertainty in today’s freight broker environment.
- ISO demonstrates commitment to quality. As mentioned above, ISO certification is no walk in the park. It takes many months of training and auditing, as well as a commitment from a company and all its staff to ensure that everything they do conforms to these standards. As such, when you see that a company is ISO 9001-certified, you know that it has backed up its talk about quality with substantial effort.
Looking for top freight brokers? Look to Bulk Connection
While ISO 9001 certification is somewhat of a rarity in the freight brokerage industry, Bulk Connection has proudly been ISO-9001 certified since 1998. We are currently certified to the latest iteration, ISO-9001:2015.
Why is ISO certification important to us? Because your freight is important to you. It’s that simple. When a company entrusts their freight – the lifeblood of their supply chain – to our operation, it is our responsibility to ensure that every single step of the process is performed at the highest level. Our adherence to these standards gives us the peace of mind that we are doing just that.
To learn how Bulk Connection can put this commitment to quality to work for you, contact us today.