Covia creates high-quality, safe, and effective mineral and material solutions that serve a broad mix of Energy and Industrial markets. Our customer promise is to deliver quality products, on time, and with exceptional customer service. We Deliver on Promise by maintaining industry-leading quality that meets our customers’ expectations for performance, delivery, and value.
Quality is a way of working at Covia. All Covia leaders are responsible for quality. We have quality champions at all locations who report on and have responsibility for quality at each of our facilities. Quality managers and lab technicians assist plant managers in implementing quality practices throughout all levels of our business. Our Quality Improvement Program (QIP), which aligns with leading quality standards such as ISO 9001-2015, guides operations management in their execution of quality responsibilities. The director of Continuous Improvement Services (CIS) deploys, administers, and audits the QIP. Senior operations management also complete regular ISO-based Quality Management System (QMS) reviews, which includes a risk assessment process.
Covia conducts quality testing for all products several times throughout the production process—taking initial samples from mining, during processing, and before loading material for transportation. Ongoing quality control occurs on-site at each plant and quality assurance takes place at the Covia Analytical Services Laboratory in Ottawa, IL. Our Mine Planning Process creates a five-year mine plan based on robust geological surveys, which drill and test samples to model the long-term composition of mineral deposits. These processes allow Covia to take proactive steps to manage both short-term and long-term quality. Our strict sampling protocols ensure consistent and reliable products for our customers.
Additionally, 100 percent of our production facilities undergo regular quality audits. Our trained internal auditors conduct assessments at least once every three years at each facility. Each ISO 9001 certified facility completes an external third-party accredited audit once a year. Our customers also request on-site or paper audits, which we use to demonstrate our excellent quality management systems.
Covia understands that product quality issues can occur from transportation, weather, and handling methods during shipment. Our goal is to ensure products arrive to customers clean and safe. To achieve this, we have completed the following:
- Invested in terminals to enable us to directly supervise product handling
- Transitioned many deliveries from system railcars to private railcars, reducing the risk of contamination from previous shipments
- Increased shipments in sealed railcars that prevent weather and other environmental factors from impacting product quality
- Partnered with our suppliers to improve packaging durability
- Implemented railcar inspection and clean truck certification on all shipments
As a final step to verify our quality controls are properly working, we track customer complaints in our customer relationship management (CRM) software and through an annual online survey.
To comply with market and customer requirements, seven of our locations maintain ISO 9001-2015 certification. About one-fourth of our customers responded to our annual customer survey, which evaluates our performance on order placement, delivery, quality, service, and packaging. We maintained approximately 99 percent in overall customer satisfaction, when comparing the number of complaints to number of orders shipped.
In 2018, all locations established a Routine Sample Analysis QA process conducted by the Covia Analytical Services Laboratory. Our Analytical Services team also completed 10 plant lab audits.
Lean Six Sigma is a continuous improvement, problem-solving, and business process optimization methodology that delivers great results on Covia’s toughest challenges. Across Covia, 23 employees received certifications as either Champion, Yellow Belt, Green Belt, or Black Belt in 2018.
A completed project is required to fulfill the certification requirements. The project teams, led by the Black Belt candidates, meet for 10 to 15 percent of their work time between the class sessions to follow the Lean Six Sigma project protocol. The teams are currently working on projects that aim to yield annual savings or revenue increases.
In 2019, Covia will drill and test additional mine reserves with the goal to include geological models in five-year mine plans across our enterprise. As we unify our quality management systems across our combined operations, we will reevaluate our key performance indicators and long-term goals related to product quality and customer satisfaction.