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Ryan E. Day


What, Who, and Why of IATF 16949:2016

The IATF zigs where ISO zags

Published: Tuesday, April 4, 2017 - 12:01

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My wife and I purchased a new car this year. The employee handling the closing paperwork gave a compelling presentation concerning the extended warranty, which we also purchased. His presentation included a litany of high-tech components and even higher-tech systems that could and sometimes do go haywire—and the potential price of repairs. Having personal experience with a faulty GM ignition switch issue, we were all too happy to sign up for extended warranty coverage. But what does this have to do with the newborn IATF 16949:2016 standard?

Well, maybe nothing, but the auto industry’s continuing struggle to balance innovation, affordability, and safety, just might give some context to a standard that is written by an organization comprised of subscribing automotive manufacturers. Manufacturers that install ignition switches, seatbelts, and airbags for instance. Manufacturers that now install electronics rivaling anything NASA ever used. And do so at a price even my wife and I can afford. Is the IATF reacting to a solid 10-year struggle with safety recalls?

First, let’s take a quick look at what IATF 16949 is and who will be impacted by its arrival.


According to the IATF: “In preparation for migrating from ISO/TS 16949:2009 (3rd edition) to this automotive QMS standard, IATF 16949, feedback was solicited from certification bodies, auditors, suppliers, and OEMs to create IATF 16949:2016 (1st edition), which cancels and replaces ISO/TS 16949:2009 (3rd edition).”

“IATF 16949 fully replaces ISO/TS 16949,” says Paul Blattner, Global Automotive Program Manager at Intertek. “It’s upgraded with enhancements, particularly addressing risk management and safety, to keep up with changes and electronics and software that are now being introduced into vehicles that weren’t there before. There’s also language concerning embedded software and even a total productive maintenance system is required. Risk management language is everywhere in the new standard.”

Published in October 2016, IATF 16949:2016 seemed decoupled from ISO, but is it truly a stand-alone standard?

Again, according to the IATF, “… IATF 16949:2016… will supersede and replace the current ISO/TS 16949, defining the requirements of a quality management system for organizations in the automotive industry. It will be aligned with and refer to the most recent version of ISO’s quality management systems standard, ISO 9001:2015. IATF 16949:2016 will fully respect ISO 9001:2015 structure and requirements. IATF 16949:2016 is not a stand-alone quality management standard, but is implemented as a supplement to, and in conjunction with, ISO 9001:2015.”


“The new standard is still a quality management standard particular to automotive Tier 1 and 2 suppliers as required by the OEM,” says Blattner. “All IATF subscribing OEMs such as Ford, GM, BMW, Renault, and Peugeot, require all their suppliers to comply with and be certified to ISO/TS 16949 and now to IATF 16949.

“To be clear—companies being audited for IATF 16949 are still going to be audited to the ISO 9001:2015 requirements, as well as the additional requirements of the IATF standard,” explains Blattner. “That being said, they are not required to have an ISO certificate to be IATF-certified because the IATF standard is inclusive of the ISO requirements. However, manufacturers that produce a mix of automotive and non-automotive parts may be required to be ISO 9001:2015-certified by a non-automotive customer. So, if a manufacturer makes parts for say, appliances as well as parts for vehicles, the appliance customer may require them to be ISO-certified while its OEM customer only requires IATF certification. Tier 1 suppliers to OEMs are typically, but not always, dedicated automotive parts suppliers. Tier 2 and 3 are usually more diversified, supplying everything from nuts and bolts to plastic panels to springs.”

How much impact will the new requirements have on OEM suppliers?

“Some of the Tier 1s already have a well implemented total productive maintenance system,” explains Blattner. “It’s going to be a little harder for some of the Tier 2 and 3s depending on the size and complexity of the plant.”

Even so, many suppliers welcome the changes.

“The IATF invited lot of larger suppliers to a conference in Rome in April 2016, along with the certification  bodies,” says Blattner. “They asked for our input and we requested some changes—there was a lot of good dialogue. The result is a more intuitive standard that the suppliers themselves bought into.”


Back to the original question of why, “Is the IATF reacting to a solid 10-year struggle with safety recalls?”

The IATF explains the intent behind the revision, in part, as a move to align with the spirit of ISO 9001:2015 risk management philosophy while also allowing for “… additional requirements that better meet automotive industry needs.”

Although not exactly an oxymoron, one cannot help but wonder at ISO 9001:2015’s more pro-scriptive language in contrast to IATF 16949’s more pre-scriptive language.

“IATF 16949 is very de-scriptive,” quips Blattner. “ISO did away with all their procedures while IATF enhanced it with dozens of documented processes—you will do this, you must have that.”

Because the IATF is an aggregate of OEMs that have had recall issues—and they also come up with the standard that addresses their own industry supply chain, maybe it’s not so surprising that their standard got tougher. Seems that the OEMs may be reacting in a positive way.

“In the last few years, there have been a few large OEMs in trouble, so now there are more safety requirements,” admits Blattner. “The intent is good, and I think the results should be positive.”

Which begs the question, “What should automotive supply manufacturers do to prepare for a transition to the new standard?”

“I will say this,” says Blattner. "Manufacturers should perform their own gap analysis to find out what has changed and what they need to implement to meet the new standard’s requirements.”

Register now for a complimentary webinar: IATF 16949 Revision Refresher.


About The Author

Ryan E. Day’s picture

Ryan E. Day

Ryan E. Day is Quality Digest’s project manager and senior editor for solution-based reporting, which brings together those seeking business improvement solutions and solution providers. Day has spent the last decade researching and interviewing top business leaders and continuous improvement experts at companies like Sakor, Ford, Merchandize Liquidators, Olympus, 3D Systems, Hexagon, Intertek, InfinityQS, Johnson Controls, FARO, and Eckel Industries. Most of his reporting is done with the help of his 20 lb tabby cat at his side.