IATF 16949 entails a set of quality system standard for the automotive industry based on ISO 9001 with an emphatic focus on customer specific requirements. It demands from the automotive sector compliance with a process-oriented quality management system that provides for continual improvement and defect prevention. A development and replacement over SO/TS 16949, IATF 16949 came into effect by the initiative by the Automotive Industry Action Group members. Seeking to be interdisciplinary in its approach, the new certification brings in fresh elements related to risk management, customer satisfaction, leadership, and process. The chief driving force behind IATF 16949’s development has been risk-control to imbue more confidence in manufacturers on products they work with.
The discussion below discusses the significant changes brought about by IATF 16949 in quality system standard for the automotive industry.
Documentation is an integral part of quality management systems for all organisations, irrespective to the industry they operate in. In the automotive industry, more so, the quality system holds a paramount importance as it entails standards on safety too. Rightly, then, under IAFT guidelines organisations, a larger emphasis is laid on documentation.
Companies are required to maintain documented evidence and documentation work on the following:
- From the quality management systems of the suppliers, a conformance to statutory and regulatory requirements is demanded
- A continuous review of engineering standards used and changes across product lines should be documented.
- Documentation of the supplier selection process for the purpose of assessing risks and maintaining product quality conforming to customer specifications.
- Standardization of work at all levels of operations. This would include -instructions on product verification, in-process checks and shutdown verification.
- Risk assessments should be documented, along with the analysis and their mitigation. This assessment needs to be carried out at all levels of the organization and at all levels of production.
Introduction of customer-specific requirements
ISO/TS 16949 had as its focal point organization’s requirements. But with IATF 16949 things have changed with its standards being customer-centric. To determine how well organisations are meeting the standards, they are now required to conduct audits around customer specifications and requirements. Customer needs and satisfaction, thus, acquires a centre-stage in the quality related actives of an automotive company.
Emphasis on Accountability and Safety
IATF 16949 standards have widened the scope of QMS or Quality Management System of an organisation, weaving in standards dealing with accountability and safety in a wider and a more rigorous manner. It makes it mandatory for organisations to implement policies on Corporate Responsibility, encompassing anti-bribery rules, mandatory codes, and ethics escalation policies.
Risk awareness and analysis
IAFT standards expound stringent policies on safety. As per them the automotive manufacturers and suppliers are mandated to incorporate risk management at levels of their quality system, including CAPA and FMEA. All employees should be adequately sensitised and trained to adhere to these standards in their daily tasks and operations. Non-conformity could call for adverse action from authorities and bad publicity too.
IAFT 16949 is a step in the right direction. It has rightly determined customer specifications, safety and ethical conduct to be an integral part of business operations. Its certification, therefore, holds much credibility. Organisations aspiring for it should work towards imbibing its standards in a sincere and methodical way. Although IAFT 16949 emphasises on customer specifications, eventually, those organisations adhering to its standards would find their way to business prosperity.