Issue: Jan 2011


Standards a prerequisite for the automotive supply chain



by James Hilton

A uniform quality standard is imperative for automotive suppliers with manufacturing locations across a vast geographical area. ISO (the International Organization for Standardization) has developed more than 700 standards for the automotive sector.
ISO is the publisher of the technical specification ISO/TS 16949, which has become the global benchmark for quality management by automotive suppliers of production and aftermarket parts. Like the earlier editions, the revised version of ISO/TS 16949:2009 develops a quality management system that emphasizes defect prevention and the reduction of variation and waste in the supply chain. It also includes detailed, sector-specific requirements for employee competence, awareness and training, design and development, production and service provision, control of monitoring and measuring devices, and measurement, analysis and improvement.
ISO was formed in 1947 as a developer of voluntary International Standards and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. The popularity of ISO standards is partly due to its consideration of emerging trends and needs in sectors.

Automotive Industries spoke to Rob Steele, ISO Secretary-General.
AI: Why is ISO/TS 16949 the most widely used quality specification by automotive suppliers?
Steele: Before ISO/TS 16949 was developed, multiple national automotive quality standards were in use, in addition to the quality specifications required by the major manufacturers. The supplier could also have customers outside the sector who require ISO 9001 certified suppliers, creating different standards or even different specifications for the same base component of product. Multiple standards also meant multiple audits for supplier organizations, all of which created redundancy and inefficiency for vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers.
The solution to the problem was to replace the multiplicity of standards, and the inconvenience and inefficiency of multiple audits, by harmonizing quality requirements on ISO 9001 model which, with sector-specific additions, became ISO/TS 16949.

AI: Tell us about how ISO works with the automotive industry and national trade bodies to develop ISO/TS 16949.
Steele: The technical committees that develop ISO standards comprise national delegations industry experts, regulators, consumer representatives, scientific experts and other stakeholders.
ISO/TC 176 is made up of representatives appointed by 81ISO national members and a further 25 ISO member countries who observe the work.
TC 176’s partner for ISO/TS 16949 is the International Automotive Task Force (IATF), which brings to the table a strong consensus on the needs of the sector from manufacturers and national trade bodies. 

AI: What are some of the most important standards created for this sector?
Steele: The focus of this work is ISO/TC 22 which has so far developed 724 standards. These standards address basics such as wheels, braking systems and road holding ability, as well as crash protection, child restraint systems and ergonomics. Many aim to improve compatibility, interchangeability and safety, or to provide the requirements for harmonized test procedures for evaluating performance. 

AI: What are some of the upcoming ISO standards for the automotive industry? What areas in the industry are prioritized in terms of creating standards?
Steele: Functional safety will be covered by ISO 26262 which will provide global guidelines for the safe design of electronic/electrical systems. ISO 15007, which deals with the measurement of driver visual behavior, is now being updated to take account of new technologies, particularly eye trackers. The already published three-part ISO/TS 22239 on child seat presence and orientation detection systems is especially important.
ISO 6469 will ensure the safe handling of battery electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles, covering safety from electric hazards, on-board rechargeable energy store systems, and protection against failures. Also under development is ISO 12405, which provides test specifications for lithium-Ion traction battery systems. ISO 15118 focuses on the interface between electric vehicles and the grid, including communication links and protocols.


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