Skip to Content

IATF 16949 reboots automotive quality

Written by: Karleen Radke

IATF 16949 reboots automotive quality

As a quality professional, you understand how difficult it is to exceed regulatory standards. Even if you do not work for an automotive manufacturer, you can take automotive compliance as a prime example of what enterprise quality management software can do. Today, all manufacturers are rebooting quality management systems to align with revised ISO-based standards like IATF 16949, a mandatory requirement for U.S. and European automotive companies.IATF 16949 reboots automotive quality_IQS

What is IATF 16949?

IATF 16949 is the latest version of ISO/TS 16949, a seminal quality standard that has been used in automotive manufacturing since 1999. Published last year, this revision reflects recent changes to terminology, and the structure of ISO 9001:2015. IATF 16949 mandates a new approach to automotive quality. In fact, LNS Research sees IATF 16949 as a clear opportunity, not an unnecessary regulatory burden. Note that IATF 16949, just like ISO 9001:2015, contains 10 sections and places great emphasis on risk-based thinking. The concept of risk-based thinking, a term that couples risk analysis with preventative action, is now pervasive in nearly every revised ISO standard. IATF 16949 is merely the latest major revision to incorporate changes to ISO 9001's baseline requirements. As you can imagine, IATF 16949, an industry-specific standard, delves much deeper into the unique quality concerns of automotive manufacturers. EQMS can alleviate unforeseen compliance headaches, but some changes may actually come as a surprise. Here are the top three most striking changes to IATF 16949 you can expect.

Top 3 changes to IATF 16949

LNS Research says, "data show that integrating quality across functions benefits everyone, not just quality." This positive spin is a direct response to the persistent issue of quality being viewed as a department, not a responsibility. Surely, you know first-hand how frustrating it is to make your colleagues buy in to new quality processes. To make the issue even more urgent, you have until September 2018 to gain certification or lose your market share. Compliance to IATF 16949 is mandatory. Ideally, you should have already started to transition to IATF 16949, but if you have no, EQMS can help you gain certification.

Certification timing

Even if your company is ready for a transition audit, you will need to wait until your next re-certification audit to achieve compliance to the new IATF 16949. You will not be able to conduct an internal audit ahead of your current audit cycle. Be prepared well ahead of time if you know your quality system is ready for certification. Implementing EQMS streamlines the certification process.

Emphasis on product safety

Safe manufacturing is one of your inherent responsibilities. IATF 16949 simply codifies this responsibility in a more consistent manner. Everyone has a stake in product safety, including suppliers that often vary in size and quality capability. IATF 16949 demands that data flow from top management down to the shop floor of every supplier. Moreover, you cannot pass the buck to your supply chain as an excuse for defects. You own product safety even if your supply chain does not have mature quality processes.

Embedded software

As automotive manufacturers embed software into more products, quality management will only be more complex. Imagine what it will be like when autonomous vehicles become viable. IATF 16949 requires that automotive companies develop robust software quality processes. Take the software glitch that caused the Volkswagen emissions scandal as a perfect example of the consequences of poor software quality. The takeaway for all quality professionals is that ISO-based standards like IATF 16949 have a different spin on quality. In short, the role of quality has expanded as a competitive advantage, which is why EQMS is so beneficial for compliance. EQMS for Automotive Suppliers Quality as a Competitive Differentiator_IQS