In course with the next upgrade UNIFE will lead across IRIS Chapter 3 (IRIS requirements) into an ISO standard. So far, everything went according to plan. The content of the new standard is already very well prepared. A five-person core team composed of various nationalities: France (Alstom), Italy (Bombardier), Germany (Siemens), Bolivia (UNIFE) and Switzerland (CC-Rail) has delivered in just six weeks the first draft.

It stood to the fore, that the new IRIS requirements have to be aligned to the structure of ISO 9001:2015 and shall be directed more closely on improving product quality and safety. Afterwards about 15 representatives from the railway manufacturers and selected railway operators (in addition to the above mentioned nationalities also from UK and Spain) gave multiple comments and introduced their own ideas. This placed the draft on a broader basis. The final draft was just passed to the respective Technical Committee of the ISO organisation (TC 269) and it’s Working Group.

In the coming months, representatives of all countries have the opportunity to discuss and vote for the best standard. If it continues according to plan, we will have a new ISO / IRIS standard not later than in 20 months (01/12/2017). But please note that while it seems still very long, it can end up being close. Since the transition phase of ISO9001: 2015 expires already on 01/10/2018, IRIS certified companies remain ten months to comply only. Therefore we advise all to start the preparation for the new higher IRIS requirements already in this year, because in a hurry these can be introduced only with enormous resources and for sure not hassle-free.

As a next step new IRIS workgroups will modify IRIS Chapter 1: Certification Process and Chapter 2: Assessment Guidelines based on industry recommendations and rail operator requirements. The results shall be present simultaneously with the new ISO/IRIS, not later than 01/12/2017. Here we expect significant improvements, and doubt that the current assessment methodology will stay as it is today. Certainly, the concept of the IRIS Assessment sheet will not be entirely eliminated, however it will change. But unfortunately currently nobody knows yet, how the future solution will look like. While the revision of IRIS requirements is rather an evolution, the next generation of assessment guidelines could become a revolution.

In discussion is mainly one question: How can we raise IRIS to a premium certificate? Indeed, today you can have an excellent quality management system, but whether everyone adheres to the processes and thus the product or service quality fits to customer expectations, unfortunately, this isn’t guaranteed even with an IRIS certificate.

In future, IRIS certificates shall even more express that IRIS certified companies have a suitable QMS and actually deliver good rail products. This is the only way to ensure that IRIS certificates will get more weight in purchasing decisions. The idea behind: the better a QMS works and ensures good product quality, the lower the risk and so the expected additional expenses for the customer.

In other words, the results of the delivered products and services (such as product quality, punctuality, customer satisfaction) must be evaluated quantitatively in the new assessment scheme as well. At the end, whether it will be called ‘gold’, ‘silver’ or ‘bronze’ instead of the current scoring points, who knows? It will remain exciting in any case and CC-Rail will continue to keep you up to date.