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Multisite certification at Sika

In November 2020 I* discussed with my colleague Ralph Indermaur, Head Corporate Quality Assurance, multisite certification at Sika

Sika is a specialty chemicals company with a leading position in the development and production of systems and products for bonding, sealing, damping, reinforcing and protecting in the building sector and motor vehicle industry, and

  • Has subsidiaries in 100 countries around the world and manufactures in over 300 factories and employs more than 25.000 people and carries out its worldwide activities in the regions Americas, APAC and EMEA
  • Is dedicated to provide and maintain the highest quality standards with its products and services. All Sika solutions are designed with the customers’ success in mind and to build long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships rather than focus on short-term business. This attitude is emphasized by the corporate claim: Building Trust
  • Takes a long-term perspective on the development of the business and acts with respect and responsibility towards its customers, stakeholders and employees. Sika operates with a strong focus on safety, quality, environment, fair treatment, social involvement, responsible growth, and value creation.

Multisite certification

For Sika there are various advantages of multisite certification, One of the main pros is the possibility of benchmarking across the sites involved. This allows a concerted continuous improvement by using synergies contributed from the individual sites. As not all sites are audited every year by the certifying body, significant cost savings are achieved compared to the conventional setup (annual external costs are about 60-70% lower). On the other hand, an entire multisite certificate is put at risk if one particular site fails during an external audit conducted by the certifier.

Sika has several clusters for multisite certification around the globe for ISO 9001, 14001, 45001 and 50001 with the Swiss SQS, Lloyds, SGS and Smithers in the US. In general, we could say that the auditors are well trained and motivated. But we also see differences between the certifiers. Sometimes they have different interpretations of the IAF.MD1, the standard on which certifiers are controlled by accreditation on their assessments of multisite certifications. One certifier rates an issue with a non-conformity, where it seems to be acceptable for another certifier. We experienced also differences in the agenda and the duration of the central function audits. Clearly, multisite certification is a grey zone. There is a need for discussion, sharing best experiences and guidelines as provided by MD1.Support.


Based on the MD1 an external auditor of a multisite organization should first focus on how the central function is planning and controlling the processes/activities at the sites. The lead auditor should understand the specifics of the organization

  • What are the processes/activities at the sites, which are centrally planned and controlled. What are the specifics of this central planning and controlling, which functions are responsible for this
  • Which activities/processes are conducted centrally for the sites
  • What are the interfaces between the central function and the sites and what are the interfaces between the sites
  • How centralized is the multisite organization. Do the sites have local management, is there a local Quality Manager
  • On which level should the different clauses of the standard(s) be addressed; central and/or local? For example, the customer satisfaction review (ISO 9001), the environmental aspects (14001) and consultation and participation of workers (45001) are at Sika relevant at the sites.

Based on this the audit agendas for both the central function and locals need to be customized to the specifics of a multisite organization. The central function audit should also be planned before the audits at the sampled sites to know the specific issues.

The centralized activities/processes to the sites should be on the audit plan. Depending on their impact they could be audited for example once in the 3 years.

The central function audits tend to focus on too detailed issues, based on the ISO standards are not always that relevant for Sika. Auditors should keep in mind that, according to the MD1, a multisite organization with multisite certification, has a single management system. This system consists of the central planning and controlling of the sites, central and local documentation, internal audits, evaluation of corrective actions and the centralized Management review. And again, clauses of the management system standards audited, could normally be addressed by the organization on local or on central level or even both, depending on the specifics of the organization.

It takes time to understand a multisite organization. For this reason, it's important that the lead auditor is in this position for a few years in a row. And of course, this auditor should also do at least some of the sampled audits to get a better understanding of the organization.

Regarding the sampled audits we see that when the lead auditor is not doing these audits, the audits tend to be more a single site audit than a sampled audit for multisite certification. Clearly, information about the multisite organization should then be transferred from the lead auditor to the local auditors. And indeed the sampled audits also require a customized agenda. For example, it doesn't make sense to have document management on this agenda. At Sika this is managed on central level.


Sika wants to benefit even more from the external audits. We challenge the certifiers and the central and local auditors in this aspect to not only thick issues from their checklists, but to focus also in understanding our multisite organization.

*) I am Quality Manager EMEA at Sika. One of my responsibilities is managing 2 rather big clusters for multisite certification. Independent from my job at Sika I manage MD1.Support with best practices on multisite certification.

See further our homepage on MD1.Support!


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It's a very good initiative that MD1.Support can help organizations in multisite certification!

Dirk Regenboog from Bureau Veritas Certification Netherlands
Dirk Regenboog from Bureau Veritas Certification Netherlands

MD1.Support helped us a lot how we could benefit from multisite certification

Jack Reinders from Bronkhorst
Jack Reinders from Bronkhorst

Bas Logister of MD1.Support helped us in the understanding of the requirements and the calculation of multisite certification,

Ronald Velsink from Unica
Ronald Velsink from Unica

Bas Logister of MD1.Support helped us in our negotiations with the certifier

Henk Kerkdijk from Teijin Aramid
Henk Kerkdijk from Teijin Aramid