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Volume 5 · Issue 8 · August 2000


TS 16949 to Be Revised in 2002; No Plans to Update QS-900
Big Three Task Force Answers Registrar Questions

Registration issues that will affect automotive suppliers now and in the future were among the subjects of a meeting on August 8, 2000, between the DaimlerChrysler/Ford/General Motors Supplier Quality Requirements Task Force (SQRTF) and representatives of the Independent Association of Accredited Registrars (IAAR).

"Representatives of the IAAR met with the Task Force to discuss areas of mutual interest concerning the third-party system and registration to QS-9000, [the TE Supplement to] QS-9000, and the IATF scheme for ISO/TS 16949," reported Peter B. Lake, Chairman of the Automotive Sector Committee of the IAAR and Contact for the International Automotive Sector Group (IASG), in a memorandum to IAAR registrars and members of the IASG and of the International Automotive Oversight Bureau (IAOB) concerning the meeting.

The memo details the meeting and a number of the queries posed by the IAAR representatives and the responses provided by the Task Force members. There were three general areas of discussion:

  • Questions relative to QS-9000
  • IASG planning and IAAR representation
  • Questions relative to ISO Technical Specification (TS) 16949.

Lake provided a copy of the memo to THE OUTLOOK as background information to be used to help automotive suppliers understand the latest developments involving quality system and registration requirements as currently envisioned by the SQRTF, which is responsible for QS-9000, and the International Automotive Task Force (IATF), which is responsible for TS 16949.

The questions and answers (Q&As) in this document are informative in nature, and they should not be treated as requirements or definitive SQRTF positions. Lake described the Q&As to THE OUTLOOK in the following terms:

"These questions and answers are not to be treated as another set of interpretations, such as with the IASG Sanctioned QS-9000 Interpretations where suppliers and registrars are required to treat the interpretations as an extension of QS-9000’s requirements. The queries were posed to the Task Force members at this meeting in an effort to gain clarifications on issues, not to obtain air-tight rulings."

When asked about the information coming out of these meetings, one registrar executive noted that the message seems clear: automotive suppliers should not panic. Change is on its way, but there is plenty of time to understand it and to manage the upgrade process. An upgrade from QS-9000, 3rd Edition, to TS 16949 was compared with upgrading from the 2nd to the 3rd Edition of QS-9000; the upgrade process just needs to be managed the way suppliers managed registration in the first place.

Below is a summarization of those questions and answers that may impact on how a supplier maintains conformance to automotive quality system requirements as they exist today and what the future of sector-specific requirements will be as they evolve. This has added importance in light of the upcoming finalization of ISO 9001:2000.

The most significant fact to come out of the meeting is that revisions to TS 16949:1999 to align it with ISO 9001:2000 may not be completed until the first half of 2002. However, this is not a definitive answer.

QS-9000, Laboratory and EMS Issues

The Task Force has indicated that there are still no plans to update QS-9000 to provide alignment when ISO 9001:2000 is released. In fact, the only changes that might occur to the QS-9000 registration system would be through the IASG Interpretations, and there are no plans for any changes.

The term "at present" continues to be used in reference to QS-9000 upgrades, but the lack of a start to revision work at this late date means that QS-9000-suppliers interested in updating their QMSs to conform with ISO 9001:2000–or required by other customers to do so–face a challenge.

However, there have been no indications that any "customers" are even considering setting deadlines for suppliers to update their ISO 9001/2/3:1994 registrations. THE OUTLOOK recommends that QS-9000-registered suppliers awaiting some definite change in requirements from the SQRTF members use the interim to examine their QMSs against ISO 9001:2000 when it is published and make system improvements that maintain conformance with requirements in QS-9000 and TS 16949.

The Big Three also have no plans to establish new requirements and/or expand the number of tooling and equipment (TE) suppliers required to obtain "registration" to the TE Supplement to QS-9000. For the latest information about existing TE Supplement "registration requirements" for key TE suppliers to DaimlerChrysler and Ford, see "DaimlerChrysler TE Suppliers Face July Registration Deadline," THE OUTLOOK, June 2000.

However, when it comes to use of as yet unaccredited laboratories, a variance to QS-9000, 4.11.2.b.1, Calibration Services, in the IASG Sanctioned QS-9000 Interpretations might not be extended. The variance permits QS-9000-registered suppliers to use commercial/independent calibration laboratories that are not accredited to ISO/IEC Guide 25 (or ISO 17025) until January 1, 2001, because of delays in the accreditation of sufficient calibrations labs to satisfy supplier needs. Although nothing is definitely decided, DaimlerChrysler is evidently leaning against extending the deadline and GM is still considering its position (Ford does not require conformance with 4.11.2.b.1).

While Ford and GM have set supplier deadlines for the implementation and registration of environmental management systems (EMSs) to ISO 14001, DaimlerChrysler has not yet set any deadlines or specific requirements, although its position on ISO 14001 requirements "is under consideration".

TS 16949 Issues

Since the SQRTF has no plans to issue a fourth edition of QS-9000 that is aligned with the format and verbatim text of ISO 9001:2000 or that otherwise updates the automotive quality system requirements, the biggest question is when TS 16949:1999, which contains the verbatim text of ISO 9001:1994, will be revised and reissued to contain the verbatim text of ISO 9001:2000.

The answer regarding this matter from the SQRTF, whose members are also members of the IATF, has not yet been finalized, but the following facts can be reported based on their initial response:

  • ISO technical specifications have a defined 3-year lifespan, according to ISO’s standards development rules. Thus, ISO TS 16949, which was published in March 1999, must be revised and reissued by March 2002 if the IATF is to adhere strictly to the ISO procedures.
  • The IATF expects to have a "draft version" of the revised TS 16949 developed in early 2001 for circulation within TC 176 for review and balloting. Although the TS drafting process is different from the International Standards process in some ways, TC 176 member bodies will have an opportunity to review and provide comments on the initial draft version. It is not clear how long the review and voting process will actually take.
  • Assuming that the IATF members are in consensus on the text of the draft version and will be able to address any issues raised during review and balloting process without making significant changes, an automotive supplier could use the draft version to achieve conformance with the draft and revise its QMS and documentation to conform with ISO 9001:2000. However, the supplier could not register to the draft version of TS 16949.

Another issue addressed in the Q&A is whether there will be a transition requirement from TS 16949:1999 to the revised edition. Even if TS 16949 is not reissued until the first half of 2002, there will be at least 18 months during which registration to TS 16949:1999 could remain in effect. Accreditation bodies will be conducting a 3-year transition period after the publication of ISO 9001:2000 during which registration to ISO 9001/2/3:1994 will be permitted.

The Task Force indicated that registrars may be required to maintain supplier registrations to TS 16949:1999 "through early 2003". The end result is that, as noted before, organizations should not panic, since change to registration requirements is not imminent and registrars will likely provide information to their clients as soon as the registrars know what automotive sector transition requirements will require.

Of the Big Three, GM is still the only one to have issued customer-specific requirements linked directly to TS 16949. While Ford’s plans for release of requirements linked directly to TS 16949 or for continued use of Ford’s existing customer-specific requirements in QS-9000 are not yet known, DaimlerChrysler is now expecting to have its TS 16949-specific requirements issued in September 2000. In the meantime, the existing DaimlerChrysler customer-specific requirements in QS-9000 remain in effect.

There are likely to be issues arising over the intent of requirements in TS 16949 and how they are to be conformed with and/or audited against. In that regard, there is an openness to the establishment of a sanctioned interpretations process for TS 16949 similar to the IASG system for QS-9000. No formal structure is in place, but THE OUTLOOK will provide information on the process and contacts if and when such a TS interpretations system is established.

Subclause 4.10.6, Laboratory Requirements, in TS 16949 requires commercial/independent inspection, test or calibration labs to be accredited to ISO 17025:2000. Organizations that use independent labs evidently can continue to use them–for now–if the labs are in the process but not yet accredited to ISO 17025:2000.

According to the IAOB, due to ISO 17025’s newness and the resulting need for laboratory accreditation bodies to get ready to accredit to ISO 17025, a supplier can be registered to TS 16949 if it is has a plan in place to deal with the lack of accredited labs and has evidence that the commercial/independent labs it uses have plans to achieve accreditation. But registrars are expected to check for reasonable progress during surveillance audits and for labs to be reasonable in pursuing accreditation.

THE OUTLOOK will provide continuing coverage of the TS 16949 revision process and developments involving the transition to ISO 9001:2000 in the automotive sector.

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