Automotive Quality Management System: IATF 16949
Quality management is important across all industries; it ensures high quality products and services are delivered by eliminating defects and inefficiencies. Quality management systems (QMS) and standards help streamline processes, procedures, and responsibilities to help businesses achieve specific quality goals and objectives. In this article, we’ll look at quality management systems specific to the automotive industry. We’ll explore the IATF standard and the benefits of implementing quality control for manufacturers.
Why Is Automotive QMS Important?
A quality management system is important because it ensures consistent delivery of high-quality products. This is particularly important in the automotive industry because delivery of substandard vehicle parts will not only lead to disappointed customers but could also lead to damaged property and even loss of lives. For this reason, businesses all over the world train their manufacturers to adhere to specific quality standards. The quality management system in the automotive industry is included in IATF 16949, which lays the requirements that need to be met by manufacturers to guarantee product consistency, compliance to standards, efficiency in processes and resource effectiveness.
What is IATF 16949
The IATF 16949 standard provides guidance for organizations in the automotive industry that want to ensure their products are safe and consistently meet customer demands. It also ensures consistent improvements in quality and customer satisfaction.
The IATF 16949 standard is part of the ISO (International Organization for Standardization):
- IATF 16949: The requirements of an automotive quality management system (QMS)
- ISO 9001: The base requirements of a quality management system
- ISO 9000: The basic concepts and language
- ISO 9004: The ‘how to’ for making a quality management system more efficient and effective
- ISO 19011: Guidance on internal (1st party) and external (2nd party) audits of quality management systems
- ISO 31000: Risk management principles and guidelines
IATF 16949 can be used by any supplier, large or small, and should be applied to every step of the supply chain. The standard is based on the seven quality management principles:
- Engagement of people
- Customer focus
- Process approach
- Evidence-based decision making
- Relationship management
Implementing IATF 16949 and applying these principles to processes, procedures and responsibilities will provide a range of benefits to organizations working in the Automotive industry.
Benefits of Implementing IATF 16949
Businesses and manufacturers who implement Automotive QMS can expect the following benefits:
- Product Consistency: Automotive QMS paves the way for consistently high-quality products and proactive solutions to mitigate delivery issues and defective products. This is because product issues are identified and resolved before they leave the manufacturing line.
- Compliance to standards: In the automotive industry, all parts much comply with standards set by ISO. Quality management systems outline these requirements to provide guidance for manufacturers throughout the production process.
- Efficiency in process: An automotive QMS can mitigate issues that lead to time-consuming challenges that slow down the supply chain. This increase in efficiency leads to faster delivery times and happy customers. It also reinforces the loyalty of your brand.
- Resource-effectiveness: A QMS for the automotive industry also allows for resource-effectiveness in terms of both time and manpower. Poor quality leads to wastage of raw materials, machine downtime, and product recalls. Implementing a QMS mitigates these issues and greatly reduces manufacturing costs.
- Expansion into new markets: Some sectors and clients require IATF 16949 before doing business. Implementing a QMS will ensure businesses can expand without any roadblocks.
- Increased social responsibility: Businesses using an automotive QMS are more socially responsible through the documentation and implementation of corporate responsibility policies.
- Risk management: QMS identifies and addresses risks within an organization. It uses condition monitoring tools to conduct predictive maintenance and reduce machine downtime.
When to Implement IATF 16949
Implementation of a quality management system and compliance to IATF 16949 can be done at any time, but is typically used when:
- Customers and clients specify this requirement as part of a contract
- Organizations want to improve product quality, production speed and customer satisfaction
How to Implement IATF 16949
Organization’s looking to develop and implement a new or improved QMS strategy should focus on identifying and minimizing risks. There are certain steps you can take to support successful implementation and make sure you don’t miss anything.
1. Get support from management
Show your management team how important IATF 16949 is. Without their support, implementation will not be successful.
2. Identify QMS requirements
Identify the requirements that must be addressed in your quality management system. This includes standards, laws and regulations and company policies.
3. Define the scope
Identify the locations, processes and departments that are to be included in your QMS. You don’t want to include additional areas of your business that don’t influence quality management
4. Define processes
Define the processes mandatory according to IATF 16949 and any extra processes required to achieve high levels of consistency and quality.
5. Implement processes and procedures
Put the processes and procedures you identified into service. Some of these might already be implemented and will need tweaking to comply with the new standard.
6. Provide training
You need to make sure employees have the right skill set to work within your quality management system. Provide the necessary training on IATF 16949 and how it will benefit your organization to encourage everyone to buy into the changes.
7. Choose the right certification body
The certification body is responsible for coming to your company to audit the quality management system and determine whether it’s compliant with IATF 16949. You should take time speaking to certification bodies and reviewing references before you make your decision.
8. Operate and collect records
Operate the QMS so you can collect records. You will be required to show these records to the certification body to prove that your processes are effective and meet the intended requirements.
9. Perform an internal audit
Audit your processes internally so you can identify problems and make the necessary adjustments.
10. Conduct a management review
Management must also be involved in ongoing maintenance. Review data and results from the automotive QMS and confirm each process has the resources it needs to be effective. If there are any issues, take the necessary corrective action.
Once these ten steps are completed, your Automotive QMS should be prepared for the certification body to perform their audit. They will look at your plans, processes and procedures and analyze if you took the necessary steps to overcome any problems.
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