Gerard a business built on Quality
Known locally as our “worry-proof roof”, New Zealand’s own Gerard Roofs has for decades forged a reputation for quality and consistency that has helped its pressed steel roof systems compete and thrive on a global stage.
In specifying Gerard, you are aligning with an ISO 9001 accredited business that places Quality Management at the heart of its operations, and has a history of “getting it right, first time” when it comes to its product.
Industry leading quality control
In addition to checks and measurements, lead Quality Control Inspector Ron Almeida and his team perform naked eye inspections and assessment at multiple stages of the manufacturing process, starting with raw materials:
- Steel coils are inspected for evidence of oil or other contamination, and for surface defects.
- Coils are also individually measured for width and thickness – with some export markets like Japan favouring specialised steels.
- Coatings applied to the substrate are assessed for consistency and colour.
- Batches of the natural stone chip used in Gerard’s textured finish are assessed for colour and grade – Gerard also ceramically coat their own colours of stone chip so have control of the formulations and process, which for customers means great consistency.
- Checks continue as steel is pressed and then loaded on to coating lines using high-tech robotics, before being treated and cured in an overhead conveyor oven.
- Testing is conducted on representative samples from each run, and samples from each pallet are viewed and colour-coded.
- A full pallet is then”100% inspected” by Ron and his team, ensuring high standards are maintained.
“Light booth” the moment of truth
The “light booth” is a controlled environment replicating natural sunlight, where the colour and finish of product is examined against master samples before packaging and distribution to domestic and export customers.
After checking for oil and other contamination, Ron measures the width and thickness of each 5-tonne steel coil.
Master samples of every colour and profile manufactured for Gerard Roofs’ domestic and export customers.
Quality linked to export success
When Gerard produced and fulfilled its first international order into Hawaii in 1964, it became one of New Zealand’s first exporters in any industry. The next year came Australia, then the US, Japan, Europe and eventually Africa as key destinations.
In 1977 the business was recognised with the Governor General’s export award, and at one point New Zealand was producing two million pressed steel tiles annually for the US market alone.
Technical Manager Peter Richards uses a more recent Japanese example to explain that while having an innovative product helps to break into a market and win a customer, long term export relationships are built on quality management:
“We acquired the customer in 2000, but over time we’ve been able to continually prove our quality in the face of competition from Europe and Korea. It would be easy for this particular customer to accept a supplier who is situated much closer, but they’re really happy with the customer service and technical support they receive from us in New Zealand, and this has helped us maintain the relationship.”
Richards adds that with export orders characteristically higher in value and volume, and shipped huge distances to regions like Africa, there’s nowhere for suppliers to hide if they fall short on quality, and usually no second chances.
Gerard’s Quality lead Ellen Eskildsen (left), Quality Inspector Ron Almedia (centre) and Specification Representative Jamie Snyders discuss the coding of a sample of product destined for Africa.
Quality a total business focus
Gerard’s Quality Management lead Ellen Eskildsen explains how the discipline goes much deeper than monitoring product:
“There’s a common misconception that Quality Management relates only to manufacturing, but here it relates to every role and function. It also impacts decision-making from the big strategic stuff we invest in, right down to the detail like our paint formulations or a name change.”
Gerard’s online Quality Management System (QMS) is housed on the company intranet and is the central portal for ISO 9001 compliance as well as information for pretty much every aspect of Gerard’s operations, including:
- Manufacturing, warehousing and distribution processes.
- New Product Development – from drawings, to testing, and prototyping.
- Specifications, drawings and descriptions of machinery, tooling and components.
- Functional manuals and guides for team – from Customer Service and Finance, to Engineering and IT.
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs) for all roles.
Ellen explains further that staff play a key role in maintaining high standards:
“This is a cross functional team who are NZQA trained to carry out monthly audits. For example our Production Scheduler, our Commercial Manager and our Environmental Health & Safety Manager are all involved. It’s an additional part to their role, which ensures everyone is quality focused.
ISO 9001 certification
ISO 9001 is the global standard for Quality Management, and Gerard Roofs is assessed by TELARC, who conduct regular audits of the systems and processes in place.
Ellen explains compliance is an ongoing commitment:
“There can be new or different focus areas for compliance with each revision – the bar is always being raised.”
With businesses in over 180 countries certified, it has become an important global benchmark:
“Our customers look for it, and we look for it in our suppliers.”