Core Quality Tools of IATF 16949

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What are the core tools for attaining quality in automotive design and production? How are these tools built into the flagship automotive quality management standard, IATF 16949? How does Pro QC International check the effectiveness of these tools in auditing a firm’s quality management system?

In the following article you will learn five key tools in automotive quality:

You will see their importance in the quality management system. And you will learn how Pro QC International checks and reports on them in an IATF 16949 audit.

IATF quality tools

Five Automotive Core Tools

The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) developed these five quality methods and tools with US automotive manufacturers and now champions them as a way to meet IATF 16949 requirements and attain continuous improvement.

1.A – What is Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)?

APQP is a product development process that provides a framework for specifying the inputs of each stage of product development and mapping them to the required outputs. It is now standard in many industries.

1.B – Why is APQP important?

APQP eases and standardizes communication between automotive customers and suppliers. It helps define the process and product parameters needed for consistent production. It helps suppliers meet the needs of customers, to attain part approval, and ultimately satisfy the customer. It reduces the complexity of quality product planning.

2.A – What is Product Part Approval Process (PPAP)?

Automotive parts are extremely complex and must interact reliably with many other parts of the vehicle sourced from many other suppliers. PPAP is an industry standard that ensures specifications are understood and met.

2.B – Why is PPAP important?

Applying PPAP standardizes supplier-customer communication, prevents nonconformances and reduces delays. Many of the largest auto manufacturers require their suppliers to follow the PPAP process to do business with them.

3.A – What is Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)?

FMEA is a proactive method to prevent failures in the automotive process and product development. FMEA is a structured process analysis approach that ranks the severity, likelihood, and detectability of a potential problem to identify a potential failure and judge its risk. It is a powerful tool that can be used in design or production.

3.B – Why is FMEA important?

Identifying a potential failure mode allows a firm to fix the root cause. It allows breaking apart risks at every stage of development into tractable causes and prioritizing them.

In 1969, in the United States, 5.04 people died per 100 million miles driven. By 2016, that was down to 1.18 deaths per 100 million miles driven, a drop of over 76 percent. A big part of this decline is due to the consistent analysis and application of failure mode and effects analysis, among other quality tools.

4.A – What is Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA)?

A rigorous MSA establishes a solid foundation for data-driven decision making by examining and qualifying the measurement system itself. Every aspect of the measurement system is scrutinized, including test methods, specifications, operator skill and training, tools, equipment, calibration, test samples, sampling plans, and environmental factors.

4.B – Why is MSA important?

By understanding how accurate, precise and stable their measurements are, an automotive firm will reduce overall process variability. The AIAG states, “As the quality of the data improves, the quality of decisions improves.”

5.A – What is Statistical Process Control (SPC)?

SPC is the application of statistical techniques to analyze a process or output in order to reach a state of control and then improve the process.

An SPC study has two phases:

  • Identifying and eliminating special causes of variation in the process in order to reach a stable, predictable process, also known as statistical control.
  • Predicting future measurements with ongoing analysis in order to verify statistical control. As an example, introducing a special cause of variation and accurately predicting its effect is a sign of process capability and control.

The basic SPC tool is the control chart. In this chart, a product or process attribute is plotted over time. At the top and bottom of the chart are horizontal lines indicating the upper control limit and the lower control limit. With enough measurements of the attribute, operators can monitor the process range and average. They can detect trends and correct drift before the process goes outside the acceptable limit.

Several more advanced SPC methods beyond control charting also feed into process improvement.

5.A – Why is SPC important?

Statistical process control allows a firm to monitor and improve manufacturing processes. It focuses on an early detection of trends and prevention of problems and reduces waste.

How does Pro QC check the effective implementation of these core tools in an IATF 16949 audit?

Your Pro QC auditor will produce a comprehensive audit report based on an exhaustive checklist against IATF 16949 requirements. The five core quality tools of automotive quality are baked into the standard. Thus, the audit will show how your firm is applying these tools in meeting the standard.

Pro QC’s gallery of sample reports illustrates our audit approach. Audit findings are organized clearly by the requirements of the standard. Each audit finding references the evidence (documents, records, interviews, process inspections, etc.) examined. Each audit finding is summarized in plain language and is presented with a color-coded score indicating compliance.

Examples from Pro QC’s checklist

Core Tool Example Audit Area Audit Checklist Criterion Example Evidence Examined Example Finding
APQP Determining the requirements for products and services Is there an authority to review requirements for products and services? Photograph the record of review with signature of authorities on related records. Product Development is done at Head Office in Germany and No such procedure exists at the audited plant.
Review of the requirements for products and services Is there procedure/system for monitoring of order changes? Photograph records of order review, note PO number reviewed. Yes, there is procedure for monitoring of order changes, in Purchase order amendment format TF00869/10.19/V1.1
PPAP Post-delivery Activities If any, does the organization identify any packaging or delivery requirements from the customer? Review supplier quality agreement Packaging drawing is submitted as part of PPAP approvals
Operational Planning and Control Is there a Gantt chart plan for the control of the project? Gantt chart should have a plan for:

1) Define and Review customer product requirement?

2) Logistic requirements

3) Conduct manufacturing feasibility study

4) Planning for product realization.

5) Acceptance criteria for product realization.

6) Necessary resources to achieve Conformity

Generally, projects are managed by head office & no such chart are available at site, however PPAP is submitted by the plant. Verified the PPAP submission & found in place
FMEA Requirements for products and services (Inputs)/Customer Communication Does the order review identify the risk of not making on-time deliveries, and include action to eliminate the risk? Photograph records of orders review, not POs number reviewed. Risk of on time delivery is documented in PFMEA, Please refer to photo.
Quality Management System and Process Is there documented process for the management of product-safety related products and manufacturing processes? 1) Legal requirements related to product-safety.

2) Customer requirements to product-safety.

3) List of product & process characteristics related to product safety.

4) Reaction plan for NCF related to product-safety.

5) Training record.

6) If any, record of change over product safety

7) Record of traceability over product / process safety related characteristic

1) EOL, the procedure of End Of Life.

2) Customer requirement is part of FMEA as critical.

3) FMEA has mention of corrective action, Refer photo 65 & 66

SPC Internal auditor competence Can auditor demonstrate competency in 5 cores tools? Process Flow Chart, D/FMEA, P/FMEA, CP, MSA, SPC…etc. Yes, auditors are trained and have competency for Process Flow, DFMEA, CP & MSA
Special characteristics Is there method established for the control special characteristics of products and processes? Control plan Yes, strong statistical technique (SPC) is used to control special characteristic.
MSA Release of products and services Are appropriate resource provided appearance inspection. 1) Including lighting for evaluation.

2) Physical references samples

3) Training record of QC peoples

1. Lux check was done on monthly bases.

2. Physical sample available at station.

3. External training (for e.g. certificate no. IATF/PFMEA+MSA+SPC-18- 06/17) & Internal training record . See photo 23

Does the organization identify, monitor and measure product/service characteristics to verify conformity to requirements? 1) Review records of IQC, IPQC and FQC.

2) Training record of QC peoples

1. IQC monthly GRN wise (soft copy), IPQC job order wise(hard copy), OQC job order wise (hard copy) record found pictures enclosed.

2. External (certificate no. IATF/PFMEA+MSA+SPC-18- 06/17) & Internal training record (for e.g.: for employee CCCCC dated 21/11/2019) found for QC persons. See photo 23.


Explore Pro QC’s IATF 16949 solutions

IATF 16949 is an essential international standard that sets forth a framework for achieving quality and efficiency in automotive design, development, manufacturing, installation, and service. Pro QC audits against this standard and collaborates with clients for continuous improvement and ongoing compliance. Visit our IATF 16949 Standard & Audits page to learn more.


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