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   Quality Standards Outlook

The Quality Highway

Recent quality requirements changes
will cause some bumps in the road.

by Jim Mroz

December 1997 proved a busy month for quality requirement developments. A new edition of the IASG Sanctioned QS-9000 Interpretations was issued Dec. 1. On Dec. 19, Chrysler sent a letter to about 1,400 tooling and equipment suppliers establishing requirements for complying to the Quality System Requirements Tooling and Equipment Supplement. Chrysler’s letter went out 12 days before General Motors’ QS-9000 registration deadline for Tier 1 suppliers.

In addition to these events, three ongoing developments also will affect the automotive industry:

  Four task groups of Technical Committee 176 continue to work on first drafts of ISO 9001:2000 and ISO 9004:2000, which are expected to circulate as committee drafts by July 1998.

  An automotive-sector task group is working on a type 2 technical report draft linking automotive quality requirements to ISO 9001, which may circulate within TC 176 before the end of 1998.

  The QS-9000 task force continues to build consensus on a third edition of QS-9000, which may be available by the time you read this.

The standards drafts, International Automotive Sector Group interpretations and Chrysler’s TE supplier requirements indicate a widening of registration and quality system requirements. Widening the highway is not necessarily bad, but the construction phase is bound to be bumpy.

Effective April 1, 1998, the new IASG interpretations includes 37 new and 15 revised QS-9000 interpretations. These changes reinforce and/or clarify requirements for production part approval proc-ess, accreditor oversight of registrars, registration and auditing practices, and other areas covered by QS-9000. Companies and auditors will have to make sure none of the changes affect their quality systems or the way they are audited and make any required adjustments before April.

The interpretations remove some confusion within the QS-9000 requirements without affecting a quality system’s required flexibility. They permit registration requirements to expand beyond the Big Three’s Tier 1 suppliers and also might expose some ambiguous practices that got by in the past. If your company is registered but hasn’t yet obtained the new interpretations, call AIAG at (248) 358-3570.

The TE Supplement modifies QS-9000’s requirements and focuses on enhancing the reliability and maintainability of tools and equipment used by the Big Three. A TE supplier’s quality system will benefit from the guidance within the Reliability and Maintainability Guideline, which is referenced throughout the TE Supplement. The supplement’s reliance on the guideline has increased interest in guideline revisions underway. Work on a second edition of the TE Supplement is expected to begin soon and may result in more sector-specific R&M guidance.

     As for Chrysler’s letter, suppliers had until Feb. 27, 1998, to respond to the company’s decision to “add a new lane” for 1,400 TE suppliers. They must achieve TE Supplement registration by July 31, 2000.

Chrysler’s decision to use the supplement for registration purposes may result in construction bottlenecks, particularly because ISO permission to use an ISO 9001/9002 certificate of registration to indicate QS-9000 conformance doesn’t extend to the TE Supplement. Chrysler will have to obtain approval from ISO and the accreditation bodies to establish a system for qualifying registrars for the TE Supplement.

Last August, Ford targeted 600 key TE suppliers for ISO 9001/9002 registration rather than TE Supplement registration; these suppliers demonstrated use of the R&M Guideline within their quality systems. Chrysler decided to pursue a TE Supplement registration scheme despite Ford’s reservations for doing so.

Only GM has yet to set quality system requirements for its TE suppliers, although experts predict that the final tire will hit the road soon. For now, GM is maintaining its post-Tier 1 deadline policy. If a GM supplier is still in the registration process, GM will put that supplier on “new business hold,” according to Dan Jankowski of GM-NAO Communications. However, if a    supplier shows no signs of pursuing registration, it shouldn’t consider bidding on new business, says Jankowski. Yet only about half of GM’s Tier 1 suppliers were registered by January. With 2,000 TE suppliers entering the highway, unregistered Tier 1 suppliers had better catch up with the traffic or they’ll be facing an exit     ramp soon.


About the author

Jim Mroz is senior editor of The Informed Outlook, a twice-monthly newsletter providing information and guidance on ISO 9000, QS-9000 and  ISO 14000, published by INFORM       (International Forum for Management   Systems Inc.), 15913 Edgewood Drive, Montclair, VA  22026; telephone (703) 680-1436, fax (703) 680-1356 and e-mail jmroz@quality


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