TS16949: The Main US Automotive Standard

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Countries have constitutions that define the operating parameters for their lands and set the basis to govern their people. Religions have bibles and religious documents that outline the basis of their faith and expectations for their believers. The Automotive Industry has also established guidelines for quality management during the design, development and production of automotive products. If you are learning how to become an automotive engineer, you will need to learn a bit about TS16949 as it is the governing standard behind everything in the automotive industry.

International Automotive Task Force Background

The International Automotive Task Force (IATF) is a group of automotive manufacturers that came together to document quality system requirements that would be applied throughout the automotive industry.  There were a large number of automotive company representatives that took part from a variety of manufacturers and suppliers including General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Renault, Volkswagen to name just a few. Representatives met from each of the companies and developed the requirements that are meant to apply to all areas up and down the supply chain when developing and producing automotive components and end vehicles. The IATF established training and registration body to govern all those met the requirements and earned their certifications. The requirements are registered with the International Standards Organization (ISO) which is the worldwide governing body for standards.

What is the ISO/TS16949?

The ISO/TS16949 document outlines everything from the quality requirements to the development procedures with the automotive industry. This is the recognized standard throughout the supply chain within the automotive industry and provides consistency in developing products to an established quality process and standards. This process must be followed by all design, application, manufacturing, and quality engineers throughout the product development process. When all of the requirements and processes have been established within a company then an audit is performed by an external company to validate the processes and facilitate the certification and registration.

The ISO/TS16949 includes the following general areas:

Process approach

In order for a product to be developed effectively the development process needs to be fully mapped with all the requirements for each organization outlined from the initial product concept to the production and end of life. The process approach used the following steps:

  1. Establish customer requirements
  2. Design product to customer expectations
  3. Develop the manufacturing process
  4. Produce product to customer requirements
  5. Measure and analyze customer feedback
  6. Satisfy customer requirements

By following the process approach all functional areas will understand and meet the requirements for the development process, will follow value added processes, will measure the effectiveness of the process and take part in continual improvement based on defined measurements. The process gives an outline for product development efficiency and continuous improvement.

Quality management systems

car is checked by US Automotive StandardsThe quality management system portion of the ISO TS16949 specification provides all the necessary guidelines to establish effective quality systems within a company. It outlines the business processes for organizational structure, policies, procedures, and resources to implement a quality management system within a company. An example of an effective quality management system will have processes for managing manufacturing quality, calibration of tools and an internal audit procedure to make sure that all procedures are being followed up and down the organization.

Roles and responsibilities within the organization

The TS16949 specification provides guidelines for how all levels of the management chain should behave during the development and manufacturing process. The specification gives guidelines for a series of checks and balances for everyone who comes in contact with the product from the assembly line worker during assembly to the engineering director overseeing a team. Each job has a role to follow and quality checks and measurements to make sure the entire development process is effective and efficient.

The ISO TS16949 standard has helped to make the design, development and manufacturing processes within the automotive industry more efficient and gives engineers the tools and common language to work in the worldwide automotive markets.

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