IATF 16949 Reboots Automotive Quality

Learn how enterprise quality management software can help automotive manufacturers and suppliers achieve IATF 16949 certification

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

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 it was created in 1999 by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF). Published in 2016, the revision reflects recent changes to terminology, and the structure of ISO 9001:2015. This standard mandates a new approach to automotive quality.

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, this industry-specific standard, delves much deeper into the unique quality concerns of automotive manufacturers. Enterprise quality management software can alleviate unforeseen compliance headaches, but some IATF 16949 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

Data shows that integrating quality across functions benefits everyone, not just quality. This 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. Compliance to IATF 16949 is mandatory. Ideally, you should have already started to transition to IATF 16949, but if you have not, 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 can help streamline 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 even more commonplace. 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 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.

Learn More

Whether you’re an OEM or a supplier, leveraging enterprise quality management software can help you integrate your critical business information with operational metrics and quality benchmarks. Read The Guide to EQMS for Automotive Suppliers to learn what to look for when selecting a quality management solution for your organization.