Automotive quality standards: ISO/TS 16949 to IATF 16949

Features - Compliance

Smithers Quality Assessments experts discuss what automotive suppliers need to know about the changing standards many automakers demand as they manage global supply chains.

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December 7, 2016
Michael Fournier
Credit: olm26250 | thinkstock.com

Part 2 of 2: In this two-part series, manufacturers will learn what they need to know about updates to ISO standards. Part 1 in the October 2016 issue of Today’s Motor Vehicles dealt with ISO 9001.

Following up on the last issue’s updates on the ISO 9001 standard, specifically the key changes involved with the 2015 revision, manufacturers in the automotive industry may be wondering if abiding by these changes has them covered. In some areas this may be true, but for manufacturers who have sought certification to the automotive quality standard TS 16949 need to be aware of some differences.

The 2009 version of the ISO/TS 16949 standard has been under review by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) for the past 12 months. The final standard, entitled IATF 16949, was issued on Oct. 1, 2016. It is outlined in the same manner as ISO 9001:2015 (10 sections) but does not include the actual wording. The standard refers to the applicable ISO 9001:2015 requirement and then details additional automotive requirements. All organizations seeking certification to the new automotive standard will need to obtain copies of both ISO 9001:2015 and IATF 16949 in order to have a clear understanding of the requirements.

A Transition Guideline (currently revision 1) was also issued that details the process certification bodies must implement in order to certify an organization to the new automotive standard. Essentially, the transition audit will be a recertification audit – using the current employee level and following the current edition of the IATF rules for ISO/TS 16949 certification. A formal document review is also required. If this activity is not completed off-site, then the transition document requires the certification body to add a half day on-site to complete the activity prior to the start of any audit.

The transition document also requires that any audit conducted after Oct. 1, 2017 must be to the new automotive standard. For some suppliers, this will mean back-to-back recertification audits and/or a shortened certification cycle. All automotive customers are expected to complete the transition recertification audit by Sept. 14, 2018.

Finally, an audit to the new standard cannot be conducted until the assigned auditor completes required training – not yet available but scheduled for a mid-December 2016 rollout. It is not expected that any certification body will be conducting audits to the revised standard until sometime in early January 2017.

The new automotive standard exists in addition to ISO 9001 because of the need to distinguish universal quality management principles from those that would be of particular reference for automotive manufacturers and suppliers. It focuses largely on continuous improvement, particularly decreasing the frequency of defects and reducing waste in the automotive supply chain. Like ISO 9001, the IATF 16949 standard is updated regularly to account for business and economic trends.

Enhanced supplier qualification

The automotive supply base has changed dramatically with suppliers responding to global competition and significant economic challenges. Changes between the 2009 and 2016 version focus on key issues impacting the industry, including globalization and challenges surrounding global supply chain decisions.

As with the revised ISO 9001 standard, changes to IATF 16949 are meant to maintain and enhance the relevance, credibility, and usefulness of the standard, increasing its value for certified organizations. Through these changes, IATF is seeking to improve the alignment between supplier certification and performance. The goal is to introduce processes and requirements that can be adopted to make certified organizations stronger and smarter. To do this, they look at feedback from all stakeholders; customers, suppliers, auditors, and others.

As a certification body, Smithers Quality Assessments receives from the IATF the latitude to make the right decisions and tough calls when it comes to identifying issues of non-conformity. With guidance from the IATF, we are raising the bar because the automotive OEMs are raising their expectations of their suppliers. Continuing to look for ways to make the IATF 16949 standard more valuable to certified organizations helps better prepare suppliers for the needs of their OEM customers now and in the future.

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About the Author: Michael Fournier, the Smithers Quality Assessments (SQA) Automotive Technical Specialist, is a certified ISO/TS 16949 auditor and has conducted many audits during his 30 plus years of auditing experience, including nuclear related and ISO 9000 based standards. As the automotive technical specialist he interfaces directly with the IATF and IAOB and ensures that SQA auditors and staff are trained and competent to deliver SQA automotive certification services.