International Automotive Task Force (IATF)
Quality in the automotive industry. DQS ranks among the leading certification bodies for the automotive industry, holding top market positions in the United States, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, many Asian countries, among others.
What is IATF 16949?
The automotive industry with its global activities stands for excellent process quality, continual improvement, and the power of innovation. IATF 16949 is the standard for Automotive Management Systems applicable to suppliers in this industry sector. It was developed by a joint working group, the International Automotive Task Force (IATF), with the objective of improving both quality, capability and the entire certification process throughout the supply chain.
The Standard and its principles
Most of the Automotive OEMs (Original Equipment Manufacturers) require evidence of a quality management system. Whether for SMEs or large corporations, a certificate to IATF 16949 is practically an entry ticket to this globally active industry. Companies certified to IATF 16949 improve the reliability and process-capability throughout the value-chain and help to avoid waste in the supply chain. That is why IATF 16949 is relevant for anybody working in the production or assembly fields of the automotive industry, or who is listed as a potential supplier.
The latest revision did more than simply align the standard with ISO 9001:2015, though; it also added a host of changes specific to automotive manufacturing, including traceability and management of safety-relevant parts.
Some key requirements:
- Safety-relevant parts and processes
- Products with embedded software
- Warranty management including No Trouble Found (NTF) process
- Integration of customer-specific requirements in the QMS scope
- Supplier selection, management and development
- Corporate responsibility policies
- First and second party auditors
- Temporary changes of production process controls
High Level Structure
Since the structure of IATF 16949:2016 is aligned with the High Level Structure of ISO 9001:2015, this facilitates the integration of other important major management systems such as ISO 14001 for environmental management.
- Normative reference
- Terms and definitions
- Context of the organization
- Performance evaluation
Benefits of IATF 16949
- Internationally recognized mark of quality in the automotive industry
- Improved dependability and process capability in the value chain
- Continuous process optimization and organizational improvement
- Stronger error and safety management culture
- Considerable trust and loyalty from customers
- Greater competitiveness and improved image
Audit and Certification
As soon as your processes have been identified, recorded and implemented, and the effectiveness of your quality management system has been reviewed in internal audits and the results analyzed in a management review, you are ready for certification. We customize our planning to you, and we coordinate with you based on your individual circumstances, corporate objectives and success factors. Then your organization will undergo the classic DQS certification process: we will assign auditors with excellent knowledge of the standards, as well as many years of experience in the respective business sector.
The certification process begins with a site readiness review (Stage 1) that must be followed by a certification audit (Stage 2) within 90 days. Within another 15 days, the final report and the certificate are issued, if all requirements are met. If nonconformities are determined, the 90 days deadline for management of nonconformities starts, from the last audit day onsite. Corrective actions must be communicated to DQS sooner – within maximum 60 days. Certifications are renewed after three years; however, the recertification process must be performed early enough to address nonconformities before the existing certificate expires. For that reason, we recommend recertifying three months prior to certificate expiration.
The process starts with the client’s needs and expectations. DQS wants to learn about the client’s organization, its management system, size and types of operation. Together both parties will define objectives for the assessment and/or certification, including applicable standards and specifications.
DQS will provide a detailed offer for assessment and certification services, tailored to individual client needs, based on the information provided initially. A written contract will specify all relevant deliverables as well as applicable assessment and certification criteria.
A pre-audit can serve as initial performance or gap analysis, identifying strengths and areas for improvement. For larger assessment and certification projects a project planning meeting provides a valuable opportunity for the client to meet the lead assessor and develop a customized assessment plan for all functions and locations involved. Both services are optional.
The assessment procedure itself begins with review and evaluation of system documentation, goals, results of management review and internal audits. During this process, it will be determined whether the client’s management system is sufficiently developed and ready for certification. The assessor will explain findings and coordinate any required activities to prepare for the on-site system assessment.
The assigned auditor team will audit the client’s management system at the place of production or service delivery. Applying defined management system standards and specifications, the assessment team will evaluate the effectiveness of all functional areas as well as all management system processes, based upon observations, inspections, interviews, review of pertinent records, and other assessment techniques. The audit result, including all findings will be presented to the client during the closing meeting. Required action plans will be agreed upon as necessary.
The independent certification function of DQS will evaluate the audit process and its results, and decide independently about issuance of the certificate. The client receives an audit report, documenting the audit results. When all applicable requirements are fulfilled the client also receives the certificate.
Either semi-annually or at least once per year, there will be an on-site audit of the critical components of the management system. Improvement potential will be identified, with a focus on continual improvement and sustained effectiveness.
A management system certificate is valid for a limited period of time, frequently for a maximum of three years. At the end of this cycle, a re-audit will be carried out to ensure the ongoing fulfillment of all applicable requirements. Subject to this fulfillment, a new certificate will be issued.
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