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Volume 9 · Issue 3 · March 2004

Contents

Registrar Suspends TE Supplement Accreditation; More to Follow?
TE Suppliers Begin to Prepare for Post-QS-9000 World

An accredited registrar has voluntarily suspended one of its accreditations, but not because it needs to address an accreditation nonconformity. In what may be the first of several instances, a registrar has suspended its accreditation for conducting assessments against requirements for lack of customers for the related registration. It may also preface a trend relating to automotive sector quality management system (QMS) requirements now that less than 3 years are left before all QS-9000:1998 and related certificates expire.

In a development that some tooling and equipment (TE) suppliers precipitated—and that all other TE suppliers and their customers need to become aware of—Steel Related Industries Quality System Registrar (SRI) took the step of voluntarily suspending its accreditation by the US National Accreditation Program (NAP) to conduct registration assessments against the QS-9000 Tooling and Equipment Supplement. The following statement was posted on the web site of the Registrar Accreditation Board (RAB), which administers the NAP program that it jointly runs with the American National Standards Institute (ANSI):

Effective 04 February 2004, SRI has voluntarily suspended their ANSI-RAB NAP QMS QS-9000 TE Supplement accreditation. While suspended SRI will not be able to issue any new ANSI-RAB NAP QS-9000 TE Supplement certificates.

According to Peter Lake, President of SRI, the registrar actually decided to voluntarily suspend its accreditation because of a lack of customers. “All our clients that have registration certificates for the TE Supplement are dropping, or have dropped, their TE Supplement registrations in favor of ISO 9001:2000,” confirmed Lake. “We voluntarily asked RAB for the TE suspension, etc., because there obviously could not be a witness audit by RAB if we had no clients left to witness for an audit against these requirements.”

Lake confirmed that SRI had only a handful of clients holding TE Supplement certificates prior to their decisions to transition to ISO 9001:2000. However, the fact that these clients had decided not to renew this form of registration but to upgrade their QMSs and seek ISO 9001:2000 registration instead indicates the likelihood that customer requirements may have—or might—change in the near future.

In fact, there are reports that at least one original equipment manufacturer (OEM) has begun to contact its key TE suppliers to inform them that the OEM will now accept TE supplier registration to either the TE Supplement or ISO 9001:2000, although there may be some provisions that must be met for ISO 9001 registrations to be accepted.

These developments may relate to the following factors:

  • Deadlines and Renewals—All registrations involving QS-9000:1998 will expire in less than 3 years—December 14, 2006. Yet 3 years is the typical lifespan for an accredited certificate of registration. Almost all automotive suppliers, including for tooling and equipment, presently required to have some form of QMS registration are likely to need to transition to a new registration scheme in less than 3 years. So, some TE suppliers coming up to a registration renewal assessment for the TE Supplement may be deciding to transition to ISO 9001:2000 rather than renewing registration of an ISO 9001/2-based QMS that will need to be revised well before the next renewal.
  • Lack of an Alternative—In the first quarter of 2003, the DaimlerChrysler/Ford Motor Company/General Motors Supplier Quality Requirements Task Force (SQRTF) issued a letter indicating that TE suppliers are not able to apply all the requirements in ISO Technical Specification (TS) 16949:2002 and that there were no plans by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) to develop a supplement that would modify the requirements in the TS to make TE suppliers eligible for registration to a “TE Supplement to ISO/TS 16949”. The letter advised TE suppliers to contact their customer(s) to determine what would be required in the future. As a result, TE suppliers have no alternative to the TE Supplement to QS-9000 other than ISO 9001:2000.
  • Requirements of Other Customers—Most TE suppliers to the automotive sector obtain a significant portion or most of their sales from customers in other sectors. Until ISO 9001/2:1994 certificates became obsolete in December 2003, it was possible for a TE supplier holding a certificate of registration to the TE Supplement to meet ISO 9001/2:1994 registration requirements established by customers outside the automotive sector. Now that non-automotive customers are expecting or requiring ISO 9001:2000 registration, TE suppliers can no longer meet automotive and non-automotive customer requirements with the TE Supplement. So, some may have decided to obtain ISO 9001:2000 registration and drop their TE Supplement registrations because having both is not cost-effective.

Registrations to QS-9000 in the United States have seen a significant decline in the last six months, although it is not clear if transitioning by TE suppliers to ISO 9001:2000 was a notable factor in that decline. Some TE suppliers may have obtained permission from their automotive customers to pursue ISO 9001:2000 registration for the reasons cited above and other factors. THE OUTLOOK advises TE suppliers considering their registration options to contact their customers to determine their requirements as part of the decision making process. Additional coverage of developments involving TE suppliers and registration requirements will be provided as more information becomes available.