Latest ISO Survey includes industry sector breakdowns

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The latest edition of The ISO Survey (accessible on ISO's Website: for the first time includes data on ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 certification by industrial sector, as well as on withdrawn certificates.

The survey, which updates the worldwide certification picture, shows that ISO's quality and environmental management system standards continue to enjoy a considerable international success. Up to the end of 1998, more than 270 000 ISO 9000 certificates had been issued and nearly 7 900 ISO 14000 certificates.

The eighth cycle of The ISO Survey of ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 Certificates (ISBN 92-67-10305-9) reveals that the number of countries in which ISO 9000 (quality management system) certificates have been issued rose in 1998 from 128 to 143. The number of certificates issued rose from 223 403 at the end of 1997 to an end-1998 total of 271 966, an increase of 48 563.

With 6 406 and 5 961 new ISO 9000 certificates respectively, the USA and Italy show the highest growth in 1998, followed in third place by Australia, with 3 623. Although reaching fourth place with 3 399 certificates, Germany showed a significant slowdown compared to the previous year, when it had experienced an increase of 7 677. In fifth place, China increased its total by 2 547, followed, respectively, by France and Spain, which displayed consistent growth with 2 274 and 2 144 certificates.

On a regional basis, Europe continues to lead in the number of ISO 9000 certificates: it accounts for more than 166 000 of the certificates issued. However, when the first survey was carried out in 1993, Europe accounted for 83 % of certificates, while the latest survey showed that this had fallen to 61 %, illustrating the growth of certification in other regions. The Far East, which accounted for only 2 % in 1993, now accounts for nearly 14 %, with a total of more than 38 000 certificates issued. Africa and West Asia show an increase of nearly 3 500 certificates, representing an increase of 40 % during 1998. Moreover, this is the region where the highest number of new countries (eight) where certificates were issued was noted. Central and South America came next with certification activity in five additional countries.

For the first time, The ISO Survey included ISO 9000 certifications classified by industrial sector. The classification used was the European Accreditation of Certification (EAC) codes, which comprises 39 business sectors. "Although not everyone was able to supply us with information according to the EAC codes, the fact that we have been able to classify almost 85 % of the data received constitutes a surprisingly good and encouraging result," ISO states in the survey.

The highest number of ISO 9000 certificates worldwide up to the end of 1998 were issued, in order, to the following sectors: electrical and optical equipment; basic metal and fabricated metal products; machinery and equipment; construction; and the wholesale and retail trade.

The ISO 9000 standards were first published in 1987. The first of the ISO 14000 standards for environmental management were published in September 1996. The latest edition of The ISO Survey shows that the number of ISO 14000 certificates increased by 3 454 certificates from the end of 1997 when 4 433 certificates had been issued in 55 countries to reach a total of 7 887 in 72 countries at the end of 1998. This represented a significant 78 % increase, with ISO 14000 being implemented by organizations in 17 additional countries.

Europe and the Far East accounted for the majority of certificates with a total of 6 786 between them. Japan shows the highest increase with 829 new certificates awarded. Germany follows with an increase of 299 and the United Kingdom third with 277 new certificates in 1998.

As with the ISO 9000 certifications, not all the certification bodies which supplied ISO 14000 data to ISO were able to do so according to the EAC codes. Nevertheless, ISO did succeed in classifying 90 % of the certificates to reveal the top six industrial sectors in terms of certificates issued as the following: electrical and optical equipment; chemicals, chemical products and fibres; machinery and equipment; other transport equipment; construction; and electricity supply.

In addition to the industry sector classification, the eighth cycle of The ISO Survey for the first time provides data on the number of certificates which have been withdrawn over the years. The figures are broken down per country and into a succinct classification of the reason for the withdrawal. At the end of 1998, some 4 288 ISO 9000 certificates had been withdrawn, half of them because the holder organizations decided to discontinue certification.

In the same period, 45 ISO 14000 certificates were withdrawn. As in the case of ISO 9000, the principal reason was the holder's decision to discontinue certification.

ISO (International Organization for Standardization) carries out The ISO Survey by collating information from among its national member institutes (132 countries) and the more than 570 certification bodies operating around the world which issue ISO 9000 and ISO 14000 certificates. ISO itself does not carry out certification of conformity to its standards, although it has developed guidelines for the organizations that do. The ISO Survey does not include lists of the individual organizations that have achieved ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 certification. No central database of all ISO 9000 or ISO 14000 certified organizations worldwide is known to exist.

The next edition of The ISO Survey, updating the international situation to the end of 1999, will be available in the first quarter of the year 2000.

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