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MARCH 2005
TS 16949Where
Did It Come From?
by R. Dan Reid
S 16949 is not a term that comes to mind
readily when you think about the interna-
tional automotive community. Its certain-
ly not something such as see the USA in your
Chevrolet that Madison Avenue would come up
with for brand recognition. Yet Technical Specifi-
cation (TS) 16949 is rapidly gaining recognition.
Based on ISO 9000, TS 16949 is an international
fundamental quality management system (QMS)
specification for the automotive industry and is the
In 50 Words
Or Less
Until the mid-1980s, auto suppliers were troubled
by multiple specifications and standards.
TS 16949 evolved from Big Three manuals,
QS-9000 and an effort to align them with
international needs and ISO 9000.
Implementation must be carefully managed
to be effective.
first International Organization for Standardization
(ISO) technical specification.
The International Automotive Task Force (IATF)
and the Japanese Automobile Manufacturers Assn.
(JAMA) produced TS 16949 with support from ISO
Technical Committee 176 (TC 176), the ISO commit-
tee that deals with quality management standards.
QS-9000 Morphs
TS 16949 evolved from the DaimlerChrysler, Ford
and General Motors (GM) quality system require-
ments (QS-9000) and the quality system assessment
(QSA) manuals released in August 1994.
Large sections of QS-9000 text (outside of the ISO
9001:1994 text) are still recognizable in TS 16949.
Surprisingly, QS-9000 was not a DaimlerChrysler,
Ford or GM idea. Actually, the automotive suppli-
ers suggested it in a June 1988 ASQ Automotive
Division conference with the Big Three automakers
purchasing vice presidents.
Where We Were
By the mid-1980s, suppliers were subject to
numerous military, national and customer stan-
dards. Large automotive suppliers dedicated full-
time employees to each customer account just to
address the varying customer quality requirements.
For tier two suppliersthose who sell to a tier
one supplierthe situation was worse. They were
subject to numerous unique tier one supplier quali-
ty standards, which also included the standards of
the final customer. Furthermore, tier two suppliers
typically have fewer resources for dealing with
variation than tier one suppliers have.
In 1987, the ISO 9000 family of QMS standards
was released. Its use promoted the use of consistent
quality terminology internationally and resulted in
significant harmonization. The standards were slow
to take root in the United States, however.
The Big Three elected to use the ISO 9001 stan-
dard as the base for QS-9000, mainly because there
was a widespread rumor at the time that companies
would have to be ISO 9000 certified by the mid-
1990s to do business in Europe.
While nothing in ISO 9000 was objectionable to
the Big Three, it lacked some elements in current
automotive industry documents, such as business
plans, customer satisfaction, continuous improve-
ment, manufacturing capabilities and much of the
advanced quality planning content.
Adding to Supplier Profits
The benefits of QS-9000 have been documented.
A 1998 ASQ/Automotive Industry Action Group
(AIAG) survey of more than 200 suppliers reported
the average cost of QS-9000 registration to be about
All but $20,000 paid by the supplier to the certifi-
cation body17% of the total reported costturned
out to be discretionary cost on the part of the suppli-
er, such as for consultants or training. The average
sales of the survey respondents was $130 million,
and they reported an average savings of 6% of sales
as a result of the QS-9000 registration, which is
about $8 million per company.
This 1998 survey also correlated greatly with the
1997 version of the same survey, which had more
than 600 respondents.
That survey indicated a 3-
to-1 return on total costs and almost 17-to-1 return
on certification body fees. In addition, about half
the suppliers improved their parts per million
defect rates by about 50%.
This contrasts with the benefits of ISO 9000. In a
1999 McGraw-Hill ISO 9000 survey with more than
1,100 respondents, the average total cost of ISO 9000
registration was reported to be $156,000, with an
average total savings of $187,000, or a savings-to-
cost ratio of only 1.2-to-1.
Less than 19% reported
their defect rate was significantly improving and of
these, only one-third reported the improvement was
attributable to the ISO 9000 registration to a high or
very high extent.
The difference in quality improvement and sav-
ings between QS-9000 and the ISO 9000 scheme is
primarily due to the additional sector specific
requirements and process controls imposed on the
third-party registration systemfor example, QS-
9000 appendixes B, G, H and I.
Interest in adopting QS-9000 within the Big
Three original equipment manufacturers (OEMs)
globally was high from the beginning. To accom-
modate the international rollout, the second edi-
tion of QS-9000 was released in February 1995.
The second edition was the first version to be
deployed by OEMs worldwide. This required the
translation of the requirements, certification scheme
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information and training materials into several lan-
guages, including German, Spanish, French, Italian,
Japanese, Chinese and Portuguese.
Global Standardization Launched
In May 1995, during a QS-9000 rollout meeting
in Europe for suppliers and certification bodies,
representatives of the European automotive OEMs
approached the task force to point out similar har-
monization efforts had already been undertaken in
Europe. In fact, there were already three national
automotive supplier quality requirements manuals
in Europe: VDA 6.1 in Germany, AVSQ in Italy and
EAQF in France. QS-9000 was now a fourth. As a
result of this discussion, it was agreed additional
harmonization should be pursued for the benefit of
the shared supply base.
In Italy, Fiat Auto, IVECO (a truck and engine
manufacturer) and 16 primary suppliers represent-
ing 85 suppliers in total had worked on AVSQ.
In France, Renault and PSA, which consists of
Peugeot and Citroen, teamed with FIEV, the French
automotive supplier association, and four primary
suppliers representing some 300 suppliers in total,
to publish EAQF.
In Germany, Adam Opel, Audi, BMW, Daimler
Benz, Ford Werke and VW worked with their auto-
motive trade association, VDA, and 18 primary
suppliers representing some 500 total suppliers in
the development of VDA 6.1, one of a number of
common manuals in the VDA 6 family of quality
documents. VDA 6.1 has been translated into sev-
eral languages and has been deployed internation-
ally, as has QS-9000.
Extensive efforts were undertaken early in the
process to identify where the content of the docu-
ments was similar and where it differed. Much of
this effort involved translation of the documents into
English, the only language common to the group.
When these manuals and QS-9000 were compared,
they were all found to be remarkably similar. Most
differences were in areas of emphasis and in the
amount of guidance included with the requirements.
The most significant differences were in the meth-
ods of determining conformance to the requirements.
The European approaches were based on second-
party (customer/supplier) audits, with a general
agreement for reciprocal recognition of each others
audits. The introduction of third-party certification
with QS-9000 was the most revolutionary change to
the requirements or the existing process in the last
few decades.
Subsequent meetings of the U.S. and European
OEMs were scheduled, and the group became
known as the IATF.
Migration to ISO 9000
The international launch of QS-9000 was also
being noted by ISO member bodies and TC 176. In
November 1995, ISO TC 176 chair Reg Shaughnessy
contacted the task force as a follow-up to a TC 176
resolution passed in the ISO TC 176 plenary meet-
ing in Durban, South Africa.
In this annual meeting, TC 176 resolved to
undertake efforts to avoid proliferation of sector
specific standards such as QS-9000 by investigating
collaborative efforts with the automotive group.
The aim was to convince the automotive group to
adopt the use of ISO 9001. This was consistent with
the ISO directives at the time concerning sector
specific requirements.
There were several additional meetings and
numerous communications before the next ISO TC
176 plenary in Tel Aviv, Israel, in November 1996,
to explore the possibilities of collaborative efforts.
It was soon apparent to all that the ISO 9001:1994
Actually, the automotive
suppliers suggested
QS-9000 in a June 1988
ASQ Automotive Division
conference with the Big
Three automakers
purchasing vice presidents.
MARCH 2005
text alone was insufficient for use by the automo-
tive industry, so efforts were then focused on how
best to accommodate them.
At the November 1996 TC 176 plenary, a resolu-
tion was adopted to ensure the generic quality man-
agement needs of the automotive industry would be
addressed in the future revision of the ISO 9000
Alternatives as to how this might work were
discussed, but the prevailing thought was to use
another type of document in the ISO portfolio, a
technical report, to house the additional require-
ments. Additional meetings between IATF and
TC 176 leadership led to IATF being recognized
as a liaison member to ISO TC 176, under a new
The TC 176 plan then was for the automotive
industry to participate in the ISO 9000:2000 revision
process already under way to see whether enough
additional content could be added to make the next
version of ISO 9001 fit for automotive industry use
without supplement. Eight IATF members became
engaged in the various activities of TC 176 and its
However, this participation came about too late.
The year 2000 design specifications for the revision
were complete by then, so much of the significant
content brought forward by the automotive group
was rejected as being outside of the design specifi-
cations or not applicable to other product sectors.
In discussion with the other sectors involved
with TC 176, such as medical devices, aerospace
and telecommunications, two things became
apparent. ISO TC 176 would either have to find
a way to accommodate the automotive sector
specifics outside ISO 9000 but within the ISO port-
folio of documents or the automotive group would
continue to publish its own supplier requirements.
These other sectors preferred ISO 9001 contain only
the minimum requirements for quality assurance
while each sector published its own sector specific
The ISO Sector Pilot
In consultation with TC 176, it became clear the
best path was through a pilot project with the auto-
motive group so ISO could gain some experience
on how to address sector specific requirements
going forward in conjunction with a revision to the
ISO directives.
At the November 1997 ISO TC 176 plenary meet-
ing in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, another resolution
was adopted that approved the pilot to go forward
according to the plan jointly developed by TC 176
and IATF.
This plan called for the development of an ISO
technical report as the vehicle for the automotive
requirements. It also targeted a decision to be made
by the end of the first quarter of 1998 with regard
to which version of ISO 9001 to use: the 1994 text,
which would allow the project to begin immediate-
ly, or the 2000 text, which would require a delay in
beginning the project but would include the
Japanese OEMs.
The work group would consist of subject matter
experts (SMEs) from TC 176 subcommittees 1, 2 and
3 and the IATF if the short-term option was chosen,
or the IATF and representatives from JAMA if the
long-term option was selected. The SMEs on the
work group would ensure consistency with ISO
protocols for terminology, standards and auditing.
The issue of Japanese OEM involvement was
raised a year earlier by TC 176. JAMA preferred
having one or two representatives join the ISO
pilot project when the work began on integrating
the new ISO 9001:2000 text.
Once the short-term approach was selected, the
It was soon apparent to
all that the ISO 9001:1994
text alone was insufficient
for use by the automotive
industry, so efforts were
then focused on how best
to accommodate them.
MARCH 2005
pilot progressed rapidly based on the IATF work
already done, using the third edition of QS-9000 as
the baseline.
The Japanese OEM affiliates in the United
Kingdom had considered adopting QS-9000 some
years earlier as part of the UK automotive trade
association, the Society of Motor Manufacturers
and Traders (SMMT).
At that time, SMMT stopped short of endorse-
ment and use of QS-9000 over some terminology
differences. The Japanese OEMs had indicated QS-
9000 was not particularly objectionable, but rather
that their process was different. In fact, Toyotas
North American operation issued a supplier quali-
ty manual several years ago telling suppliers to use
techniques from the Big Three supplier quality ref-
erence manuals covering issues such as failure
mode and effects analysis (FMEA) and measure-
ment systems analysis.
ISO/TS 16949 Released
The draft document was balloted by TC 176 in
the third quarter of 1998 and approved for release.
During the ballot, ISOs central secretariat noted
availability of a new document type in the ISO
portfolio, TS, if IATF wanted to use that category
rather than the existing technical report category.
This was supported, and in November 1998,
ISO/TS 16949 was released as the first ISO/TS.
IATF said ISO/TS 16949 would be an optional doc-
ument for automotive suppliers to use to satisfy
existing customer certification requirements.
Automotive Certification
A new feature incorporated into the IATF recog-
nized certification scheme for TS 16949 is the selec-
tion and contracting of approved certification
bodies by IATF oversight bodies in the United
States and Europe. Capacity for third-party certifi-
cation to QS-9000 far exceeded the global demand,
so this provided the IATF an opportunity to not
only align global capacity with demand but also
upgrade global audit competency at the same time.
This contract gives IATF members a mechanism
to revoke the TS 16949 qualification of certification
bodies whose performance proves unacceptable.
Examples of this could be failing to abide by IATF
rules for the TS 16949 certification scheme or main-
taining the certification of companies who chroni-
cally ship poor quality product to their customers.
This contract replaces the oversight function per-
formed by national accreditation bodies under pre-
vious automotive certification schemes.
Alignment With ISO 9000:2000
Over the past few years, participating automak-
ers have been migrating to the TS 16949:2002 edi-
tion as their requirements document, opting to add
customer specific requirements as applicable.
The current edition maintains most of the content
of the initial edition but uses the ISO 9001:2000 stan-
dard as the foundation. The new ISO 9001 abandons
the previous 20-element format for an eight-section
format more like the Malcolm Baldrige National
Quality Award criteriaa process driven approach.
ISO 9001:2000 requires the organization to identify
the processes needed for the system and determine
the sequence and interaction of these processes (ISO
9001:2000, clause 4.1). This requirement is subject to
internal and third-party auditing as well as having
the products and processes meet customer specified
Organizations should then map their processes
to the current TS 16949 requirements to ensure all
are adequately addressed. Organizations that have
been fully compliant to the intent of QS-9000 or the
first edition of TS 16949 should be able to upgrade
in a surveillance audit.
There is now additional emphasis on content
related to meeting specific customer satisfaction
requirements, which include:
Delivered part quality performance.
Customer disruptions (including field returns).
Delivery schedule performance (including
incidents of premium freight).
Customer notifications related to quality or
delivery issues.
Another key generic QMS requirement of the
automotive industry is the control of process design.
ISO 9001:2000 addresses product design and devel-
opment but completely ignores process design and
development. This subject has been given signifi-
cant treatment in the automotive OEM reference
manuals and now in TS 16949, but the new edition
limits the subject to manufacturing processes.
MARCH 2005
What Could Go Wrong?
For many years, there have been some chronic
implementation problems with TS 16949 that orga-
nizations and auditors should be aware of. Some of
these problems are:
Characteristic management.
Production part approval process (PPAP).
Control plans.
Error proofing.
Work instructions and training.
Management representative empowerment.
IATF approved certification body.
Characteristic management. Automakers define
at least two types of product characteristics: standard
and key/critical/significant. QS-9000 and ISO/TS
16949 use the term special to harmonize the vari-
ous company specific terms in use for the latter type.
ISO/TS 16949 defines a special characteristic as
being a product characteristic or manufacturing
process parameter that can affect safety or compli-
ance with regulations, fit, function, performance or
subsequent processing of product.
These characteristics require extra care to miti-
gate the effects of a potential problem. The types of
controls necessary are customer specific. TS 16949
emphasizes it is a joint responsibility of the cus-
tomer and supplier organizations to identify and
designate special characteristics, even for cus-
tomer-responsible designed parts.
In some cases the suppliers are the only parties
in a position to identify some special characteristics
because of their unique knowledge of their produc-
tion processes. If a supplier organization takes a
minimalist approach to the identification and des-
ignation of special characteristics, the customer
stands to lose much of the power of the ISO/TS
16949 specified quality planning and control tools
such as FMEAs, control plans, work instructions
and standard operating procedures.
PPAP requires only that initial process studies be
performed for special characteristics. This assumes
special characteristics have been properly identi-
fied and designated by both the customer and sup-
plier, which may be a bad assumption. Incomplete
or inadequate FMEAs can compromise the proper
identification of special characteristics and thus
impact the effectiveness of this part qualification
activity. The result is the risk an end user finds the
problem in the field, which likely would generate
customer dissatisfaction and possibly warranty or
recall exposure.
PPAP. PPAP was a common Big Three require-
ment predating QS-9000. About 15 items must be
completed for each PPAP (third edition) approval,
regardless of how much evidence the customer
requests from the organization to ensure the items
have, in fact, been completed.
For example, the customer may request only a
PPAP source warrant (PPAP level one submission).
The warrant is a record to certify the other PPAP
requirements have been completed with no noncon-
formance found except as is noted on the warrant.
Organizations may not have all the necessary
PPAP documentation or records as required when
audited, despite the intent of the warrant form.
Third-party auditors should cite this as a noncon-
Further, the organization is to notify the customer
when the product or process changes from the last
PPAP approved process. A significant quality prob-
lem can result when changes have not been commu-
nicated to the OEM customer. These changes could
actually occur at a tier two or lower level in the sup-
ply chain as well as within a tier one supplying
Control plans. Control plans are one of the key
deliverables of the automotive quality planning
process. Controlled characteristics, including all
special characteristics, are to be documented in the
control plan (TS 16949:2002, clause
Too often, control plans are not developed with a
multidisciplinary process (TS 16949, clause
and are not current relative to the process they are
to control, such as gage or device numbers, inspec-
tion frequency or location. The control plan should
be up-to-date and representative of the process.
Operators should have input into the control plan
development to ensure applicability. Further, when
proven effective controls are in place, these should
be deployed to similar processes and control plans
across the organization.
Error proofing. Despite published material now
available regarding error proofing methodology,
the subject is still not well deployed in the automo-
tive supply chain considering its value and poten-
tial. W. Edwards Deming pointed out in his famous
MARCH 2005
14 points that management should cease depen-
dence on inspection to cause quality to happen.
Problems must be prevented, and error proofing
provides an ideal solution when applicable.
Work instructions and training. As organizations
continue to cut discretionary costs, one area typically
affected is training. Yet, as technology and customer
expectations increase, this area should be carefully
managed to ensure competency of workers.
Typically work instructions document the pro-
cess to be followed and exclude direction for the
worker regarding what action to take when things
go wrong. This direction should be referenced on
the control plan it applies to where applicable.
Management representative empowerment.
Clause 5.5.2 of ISO 9001:2000 requires the manage-
ment representative to have responsibility and
authority to establish, implement and maintain the
entire QMS.
For organizations with product design responsi-
bility, this would have to be a senior executive. Too
often, however, organizations delegate this require-
ment to a position that lacks the necessary cross
functional empowerment to comply. This is not cited
as a major nonconformance in third-party audits,
compromising the effectiveness of the system.
IATF approved certification body. While there
are many QS-9000 certification bodies, there are a
limited number of IATF approved certification
bodies. If you have a customer requirement to be
TS 16949 certified, you should verify you use an
IATF approved and qualified certification body.
Whats Next?
It is unlikely ISO 9000 or any subsequent volun-
tary management system standard with enough
content to be used as is by industry sectors will
ever be agreed on by ISO. Too many ISO commit-
tee members favor a minimalist approach for the
international standards, and many companies are
not willing or able to fund the resources necessary
to work with ISO to make a difference.
Fortunately, there is significant global consensus
in the automotive sector on the fundamental quali-
ty requirements in TS 16949. These requirements
have been fairly stable for the last 10 or more years.
This makes the task of maintaining the standard
fairly easy, as it was with the TS 16949 revision.
Future editions will just need to cut and paste
the existing requirements around the new ISO
standards outline.
However, using future revisions of TS 16949 as
an opportunity to raise the bar will likely result in
some new content being introduced, but it should
be evolutionary. As long as the standard continues
to be ISO based, it will be on a five-year revision
cycle. This all suggests there will continue to be a
lengthy period of stability of the fundamental sup-
plier quality requirements for automotive OEMs.
The challenge facing automotive suppliers during
this period will be dealing with additional company
specific requirements and initiatives being driven by
a fiercely competitive global environment. The face
of these requirements may not yet be revealed, but
they will likely not be standards based because there
is insufficient time to build consensus.
Third-party certification will likely continue for
now, but OEMs will not depend on certification
alone to ensure purchased part quality. Third-party
certification will likely migrate to become the ticket
to get into the game, but expect OEM specific ini-
tiatives as supplementary to provide the necessary
customer assurances going forward.
This article is based on the authors previously pub-
lished material in the ASQ ISO 9000:2000 Handbook, chapter
Fortunately, there is
significant global consensus
in the automotive sector on
the fundamental quality
requirements in TS 16949.
48 (ASQ Quality Press, 2001) and in Quality Progress Stan-
dards Outlook columns of April 2000, January 2002 and
November 2003.
1. 1998 Annual Quality Survey Report, Automotive Indus-
try Action Group (AIAG), 1998.
2. 1997 AIAG/ASQ Quality Survey Results presented at
a 1997 quality survey workshop, March 17, Novi, MI.
3. ISO 9000 Survey 99: An Analytical Tool To Assess the
Costs, Benefits and Savings of ISO 9000 Registration prepared
by Quality Systems Update and Plexus Corp., McGraw-Hill,
4. Technical Specification ISO/TS 16949, Quality Management
Systems; Automotive Suppliers; Particular Requirements for the
Application of ISO 9001:2000 for Automotive Production and
Relevant Service Part Organizations, clause, Interna-
tional Organization for Standardization, 2002.
5. Ibid, clause 3.1.12.
6. W. Edwards Deming, Out of the Crisis, MIT Press, 2000.
R. DAN REID, an ASQ Fellow and certified quality engineer,
is a purchasing manager at GM Powertrain and a member
of the American College of Healthcare Executives. He is co-
author of the three editions of QS-9000 and ISO/TS 16949;
the Chrysler, Ford, GM Advanced Product Quality Plan-
ning With Control Plan, Production Part Approval
Process and Potential Failure Modes and Effects Analy-
sis manuals; ISO 9001:2000; and ISO IWA 1. Reid also was
the first delegation leader of IATF.
MARCH 2005
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