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Understanding an essential automotive quality standard

The automotive industry is complex, globalized, and fast-moving. 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.

IATF 16949 Introduction

IATF 16949 is the international standard for developing a quality management system (QMS) in any company in the automotive sector. Its main emphasis is on continuous improvement. It unites and harmonizes the various assessment and certification systems in the global supply chain. Other areas of focus are customer satisfaction, process efficiency, defect prevention, and supply chain optimization.

The International Automotive Task Force (IATF) is a group of automotive manufacturers that formed to provide improved quality products to automotive customers worldwide. The group harnessed an unprecedented amount of feedback and engagement from automotive firms to develop IATF 16949:2016, which was released in 2016. This carried forth the standards originally developed by another standards body, ISO, in 1999.

IATF 16949 must be implemented in conjunction with the general standard ISO 9001. Together they set forth the base quality system requirements (ISO 9001) and specialized automotive requirements (IATF 16949).

Why Audit an IATF 16949 Certified Supplier

Working with a supplier that is IATF 16949 certified has brought immense returns to automotive companies of every scale and specialty. Certified suppliers usually:

  • Have a systematic and process-based approach. This includes examining not just processes but the connections between processes. They base decisions on data and solid evidence.
  • Put the client first. They emphasize translating customer needs and requirements into systematic processes that can achieve the required outcome.
  • Have a continuous improvement system built into their day-to-day practice. They promote a culture of customer feedback, employee engagement, and an upward spiral of quality.

Achieving IATF 16949 certification is often the easy part. The key is for the organization to dedicate the effort required to maintain an effective IATF 16949 QMS. For this reason, it is critical to routinely assess your supplier’s QMS against the IATF 16949 standard.

IATF 16949 audit services

Pro QC’s IATF 16949 Audit

IATF 16949:2016 is a highly organized and specific standard, and there are important changes from the previous editions. Your company’s certification process may be long and labor-intensive, but the benefits are worthwhile. Before undergoing the official external certification audit, you will benefit immensely from Pro QC’s IATF 16949 pre-certification audits. Pro QC’s automotive experts will also audit an established and certified system for maintenance and suppliers’ adherence to the standard.

IATF 16949 Audit Approach and Checklist

Pro QC’s auditor will visit your or your supplier’s site and conduct record and document reviews, interviews, and facility tours. The auditor will typically spend 2.5 days onsite and 0.5 days drafting and finalizing the audit report.

The main elements of Pro QC’s IATF 16949 checklist are as follows:

  • Understanding the Organization and its Context
  • Needs and Expectations of Interested Parties
  • Scope of the Quality Management System
  • Quality Management System and Process

LEADERSHIP

  • Leadership and Commitment
  • Policy
  • Organizational Roles, Responsibilities, and Authorities

PLANNING

  • Actions to Address Risks and Opportunities
  • Quality Objectives and Planning to Achieve Them
  • The Planning of Changes

SUPPORT

  • Resources
  • Competence
  • Awareness
  • Communication
  • Documented Information

OPERATION

  • Operational Planning and Control
  • Requirements for products and services (Inputs)
  • Design and Development of Products and Services
  • External providers
  • Production and service provision
  • Release of products and services
  • Control of nonconforming outputs

PERFORMANCE EVALUATION

  • Monitoring, measurement, analysis, and evaluation
  • Internal Audit
  • Management Review

IMPROVEMENT

  • General
  • Nonconformity and corrective action
  • Continual Improvement

ANNEX A: CONTROL PLAN

  • ANNEX A: CONTROL PLAN

Pro QC IATF 16949 Audit Outcomes

Pro QC clients can expect an organized audit report presented in exhaustive detail. Each IATF 16949 requirement will be compared to the actual condition, citing objective evidence such as photos, interviews, and examined records and documents. Each finding will be explained in clear language and color-coded to indicate compliance, improvement needed, or noncompliant.

The report will present quick-to-grasp visuals and a summary with a strengths diagram, an overall audit score, and high-priority recommendations.

Nonconformances will be flagged, and the highest-risk ones will be paired with a recommendation for an effective fix as appropriate.

The IATF 16949 audit is only the first step. Pro QC supports a client in reaching full compliance with the standard. This means assessing the level of compliance against IATF 16949 and identifying nonconformances during the audit. Then, establishing a corrective action plan and verifying corrective action implementation through comprehensive follow-up activities.

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