May 14/19

What Is IATF 16949 and How Does It Make for Better Automobiles?

Whether you’re a car lover or a car driver, it’s impossible for you to ignore the design details of your dashboard. Your automaker specified this look, designed the instrument panel, and ordered it from a reliable company. After the designer drew these parts, an engineer modeled them, and a company manufactured them, as they appear in your vehicle.

If you’ve ever wondered how these components came to exist, read on. Many industries conform to manufacturing or operating standards. IATF 16949 is the standard that makes these automobile parts great.

Manufacturing Standards Timeline

In 1947, delegates from 25 countries met in London to discuss international standardization. A year later, the International Standards Organization (ISO) became official. They aimed to promote quality standards for goods traded between countries.

The ISO has published thousands of standards that cover business and technology, and their motto is “when the world agrees.” One of these standards is the 1999 ISO/TS 16949 whose purpose was to streamline the automotive supply chain.

At that time, the automotive sector used an array of certification and assessment systems. By 2009, ISO/TS 16949 had streamlined these systems. In 2016, the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) developed a separate standard based on the ISO 16949 named “IATF 16949:2016”.

What is a Quality Management System?

A QMS is a set of processes designed to meet customer satisfaction requirements. It is a series of rules governing documentation, policies, goals, and outcomes that produce a consistent product.

Companies that use this QMS enjoy benefits in seven areas. These are:

  • Process efficiency
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Consistent improvement
  • Defect prevention
  • Improved consistency
  • Reduced waste
  • Contract eligibility

Together, these goals cut chaos and increase profits. Companies with this discipline reap the benefits of respect in their industry.

Does IATF 16949 Make for Better Cars?

The simple answer is yes. The complex answer is also yes because the average auto contains around 30,000 separate parts. Many have significant safety and reliability consequences if not manufactured to an exact spec.

What defines a better car? The average consumer wants reliability and safety. People want to get in their cars and travel safely, and they want to do it every day without having to pay their mechanic a lot of money to do so.

One example of a safety hazard resulting in global ramifications is the massive Takata Airbag Recall.

The 2015 Takata Airbag Scandal

In 2014, the Takata Corporation held 20 percent of the automobile airbag market. By March of 2019, the company was responsible for 16 deaths and 290 injuries. The faulty airbags spurred a worldwide recall of more than 100 million cars. In the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recalled 56 million inflators in over 41 million vehicles.

Takata caused the largest automobile recall in history. The company has since filed for bankruptcy, but not without undergoing an intense investigation of its manufacturing processes and quality standards.

A U.S. criminal court also ordered Takata to pay $1 billion in penalties that include criminal fines, victim compensation, and restitution to automakers. If these faulty airbags had been manufactured within the strict IATF standards, it would have avoided the lives, injuries and costs incurred by these recalls.

The Effect of a Recall

When a recall happens, it affects more than the vehicles and their owners. Those faulty parts have been distributed from dealerships to auto parts stores like AutoZone and Pep Boys. It’s a ripple of disruption that radiates throughout the supply chain.

In addition to burdening the resellers, the trust damage is devastating. Although the original manufacturer is responsible, the consumer will question the auto manufacturers’ judgment for using that product at all.

Art to Part

Art to Part defines the automotive manufacturing process from concept to finished component. The process is the embodiment of the customer satisfaction piece of the quality standard.

It also requires unmatched employee engagement.

A section of IATF 16949:2016 is taken directly from ISO:9001, the basis for standard quality management systems. To paraphrase this requirement: The company must motivate its employees to achieve the quality objectives in the process. The company also must create an environment that promotes innovation.

Each employee is relevant. Each employee also must be made aware of the importance of their role in the process. If employees are committed to the process and take pride in their work, and they feel valued enough to contribute ideas, adhering to the standard is that much easier.

How it All Works Together

IATF 16949:2016 provides standards for engineering companies, automakers, and employees to manufacture and assemble the best components possible.

The process begins with leadership investment and ends with requirements for improvement. In between are accurate documentation, support, and planning. Overarching requirements call for infrastructure, organizational knowledge, competence, and communication.

Companies that adhere to this standard by default make better cars. Cars that are well-designed, reliable, and safe. Hiring a company that adheres to industry-specific quality standards assures excellent results and peace of mind.

Do Your Homework

Start by asking a potential manufacturing partner about their standards and QMS processes. Many companies comply with more than one, so it’s essential to understand how they align their process management.

It’s also important to explore the company’s culture. It speaks to how they will do business with you and how it will handle your manufacturing process.

Find out more about how Art to Part companies and IATF 16949 standards can assist you. It can help you decide where to award your contacts and who you can trust to meet yours and your customer’s standards.