IATF 16949 Certification

  • Quality Management Certification in automobile Industry
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What is ISO/TS 16949 Certification?

As per reports, it was estimated that in 2010, there were about 1.015 billion automobiles being used the world over – the count consisted of cars, trucks – light, medium and heavy duty as well as buses. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that between 2010 and 2013, there has been an increase of 16% in the number of registrations of vehicles across the globe. Though the precise numbers can never be calculated, industry experts suggest that by 2035 there would be about 2 billion vehicles on the roads and roughly 2.5 billion by 2050. Automotive industry being one of the largest industries in the world required its own quality management system.

The ISO/TS 16949 is an internationally accepted quality management standard developed specifically for the automotive industry.  The objective is straight and simple – ISO TS 16949 aims at providing a framework to the industry for designing and manufacturing of automotive products using best practices.

The certification is so named because for a recommendation to be approved as a technical specification with ISO, it requires 2/3rd majority vote. Hence the standard is named as ISO/TS 16949.

What is IATF 16949?

IATF 16949 is the latest version of ISO TS 16949. The first version was published in 1999 as ISO/TS 16949:1999 and was prepared by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) and the technical committee of International Organization for Standardization. It was later modified in 2002, then again redone in 2009. In the year 2016 after collecting feedback on the certification from auditers, OEMs, Certification Bodies etc. IATF 16949:2016 was introduced. This cancels out and replaces ISO/TS 16949 Certification.

ISO/TS 16949 applies to the complete supply chain in the automobile industry – from designing to development to production and down to installation and servicing of automobile related products. All organizations planning to get certified with IATF 16949 need to be compliant with ISO 9001:2015.

What are the benefits of IATF 164949 Certification?

  • Based on the process approach theory of ISO 9001:2015, the IATF 16949 helps improve productivity of the organization.
  • It helps reduce waste and defects throughout the entire supply chain. As a result, costs are also reduced to a great extent as the standard focuses on undertaking tasks in a planned manner.
  • Organizations that are already certified to ISO 9001 can easily implement the IATF 16949 as it is highly compatible with all other management systems like ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and others.
  • Most of the OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers) in the automobile industry work only with suppliers who are IATF 16949 certified.  They do not entertain suppliers without a valid certificate for business purposes. Certified players can participate freely in global sourcing and conduct international business thereby increasing the scope of their business opportunities and also attracting good investors.
  • Helps enforce confidence in the organization, its product and processes amongst customers.

Since the IATF 16949 is based on ISO 9001, it is encourages the entire automotive supply chain to develop a supplier's Quality Management System (QMS) on the basis of the eight principles of a Quality Management System:-

  • Focus on the customer
  • Involvement of leadership team
  • Involvement of employees
  • Process approach
  • System approach to management
  • Continually improving the system
  • Taking decisions based on facts
  • Mutually beneficial supplier relationships

What are the main difference between the latest version of IATF 16949:2016 and the earlier version under ISO/TS 16949?

  • The first difference originates from the point of risk related requirements. This has been done with the objective of reducing the chances of failures and to increase the potential of conducting planned activities. In fact the latest version lays a lot of stress on compliance and conformance to requirements throughout the entire supply chain. Even outsourced products, spare parts, services, processes need to be compliant with the quality management system.
  • The IATF 16949:2016 emphasizes and differentiates between customer requirements and customer-specific requirements.
  • The third difference is in the level of competency of internal and external auditors. For internal auditors, it is mentioned that the competence be verified and documented accordingly. During internal auditor’s trainings, proper records are required to be maintained to demonstrate the trainer’s competence. Even for the external and third party auditors, companies are required to maintain relevant data to prove the competence and the external auditors are required to meet the client’s specific requirements for checking the auditor’s qualification.
  • The latest version of ISO TS 16949 certification has a new section to it called Product Safety. Applicable to products and manufacturing processes, this section stresses upon the need to document product safety management processes. The objective of the section is to ensure that companies implement such processes that are associated with safety of products throughout their lifecycle.
  • The IATF 16949 imposes manufacturer feasibility which means that the company intending to get certified must assess whether it has the capacity to meet timelines and performance related targets specified by its customers.
  • The IATF 16949 focuses also on importance of warranty management. It calls for integration of specific customer requirements with warranty analysis procedures so that the warranty management system can validate No Trouble Found (NTF). It also mentions that customers should be in agreement to all warranty related decisions of the company.

IATF 16949 Certification Process

The certification rules for IATF 16949 are issued by IATF. The certificate once issued is valid for a period of three years and must undergo a process of confirmation at least once a year by an IATF certified third party auditor. Before expiry of the three year period, certified organizations are required to apply for recertification in which case the entire system is re-assessed and re-audited by the certified auditor.

Organizations that wish to get themselves certified need to undergo the following steps to obtain the IATF 16949 certificate:

  • A preliminary audit that prepares the organization for the next audits. In this audit process the auditors assess whether the implemented system meets all the requirements of IATF 16949 or not. GAP analysis is carried out to understand and identify processes that are not up to the mark and need corrective actions. Only in the event that the auditor reports no significant issue with the system, is the second audit for certification proposed. The preliminary audit, however, is an optional audit.
  • The next audit is the certification audit where the external auditors check the documentation of the system and also witness a demonstration of the practical application of the system and evaluate the entire process in conjunction with the IATF 16949 specifications to understand the effectiveness of the system and processes.
  • The last step is where the company receives the certificate, provided all mentioned criteria have been met by the organization. The certificate is proof of the compliance of the system with international standards.
  • Similar to other quality management systems of ISO, it is mandatory that the certified organization has its system audited at least once annually so as to continually improve processes and optimize the same.
  • Certificate renewal happens at the end of the third year. The auditors check the relevant documentations to ensure that the system has been deployed successfully in accordance with IATF 16949 and also has been improved upon on a continuous basis.
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