Shifting Gears

A close look at changes in requirements within the automotive industry’s IATF 16949:2016 standard

by Morteza Kheirkhah

The International Automotive Task Force (IATF) released the automotive quality management system (QMS) standard IATF 16949 on Oct. 1, 2016. The standard could have a great impact on the automotive industry by helping establish the framework required for an effective and efficient QMS.

The implementation of IATF 16949, however, has been difficult because of several barriers—in particular, a misunderstanding of standard requirements and the methods to implement it. Because this standard includes some new requirements based on IATF original equipment manufacturers (OEM) members customer-specific requirements (CSR), and is based on the automotive industry’s direction, this column attempts to explain the new requirements in simple ways using examples.

Clause—Manufacturing process design input

In clause, IATF added some new inputs to the manufacturing process design in regard to ISO/TS 16949, such as targets for timing, manufacturing technology alternatives, new materials, product handling, ergonomic requirements, design for manufacturing and design for assembly. In addition, the former note regarding error-proofing methods became a requirement in the new standard.

Clause states that “the organization shall identify, document and review manufacturing process design input requirements including but not limited to the following:”

Product design output data, including special characteristics. In the first paragraph, IATF 16949 requires the organization to identify, document and review manufacturing process design inputs. A simple method for meeting this requirement is by providing something like Table 1. It’s basic, but you can add columns such as the reviewer’s name, his or her signature, and date of review.

Table 1

Product design outputs have been listed in clause These outputs typically include:

  • Product drawings.
  • Design failure mode and effects analysis (DFMEA).
  • The product’s special characteristics that may be identified either on product drawings or in a separate list.
  • Labeling requirements.

All the product design outputs can affect the manufacturing process design. For example, special characteristics can affect machine designation to each operation. If an operation produces a safety or critical characteristic, the process designer will select a capable machine for that operation. Also, labeling requirements may lead to designing a separate manufacturing operation or combining it with a packaging operation.

If the organization is responsible for product design, these inputs can be obtained through the product design process or department. Otherwise, product design data should be provided by the customer or organization with customer collaboration and approval. For example, a draft list of special characteristics may be provided by the organization and finalized by the customer.

Targets for productivity, process capability, timing and cost. One of the most important inputs for manufacturing process designers are targets (or expectations) that the organization expects the designed manufacturing process to meet. Productivity has several definitions:

  • The quality, state or fact of being able to generate, create, enhance or bring forth goods, services and knowledge.1
  • A measurement of output for a given amount of input.2
  • The word “productivity” relates to the “output” (of goods and services produced) in relation to the quantity of resources or inputs used to produce them. Some examples of input include labor, materials, machinery and energy.3

A productivity target can be stated as the volume of product produced per machine or people per unit of time. For example, 10 products per person per hour, or 100 parts per machine per hour.

Targets for process capability can be expressed by Cpk or Ppk indexes or nonconformity rate. Targets for timing usually act as limiting factors. For example, developing and launching a manufacturing process in six months could be a timing target.

Again, a cost target is an important factor for the manufacturing process designer. Designers should know how much money they can spend to develop a manufacturing process. This target can be used as a trade-off factor for evaluation and selection between alternatives.

Manufacturing technology alternatives. Manufacturing process alternatives are derived through innovation, bench-marking or technology-monitoring processes in the organization. Usually, there are several technologies that can be used for a specific process. For example, screw coating can be done by galvanizing or Dacromet processes.

During manufacturing process design, the designer selects the best method by comparison with some criteria. It is recommended to use something like Table 2 for selecting the best alternative.

Table 2

Customer requirements—if any

Some customers have requirements for their supplier’s manufacturing processes. They may provide an assembly manual for their gearbox manufacturing supplier, for example, or have requirements on the heat treatment of gears. Online Figure 1 shows the customer requirement for the heat treatment of an automotive gearbox part.

Online Figure 1

The organization shall consider these inputs during designing the manufacturing process.

Experience from previous developments. During the development of a manufacturing process, people gain much valuable insight (a combination of information and experience) that can be used as a guide for developing new processes. This clause has a close relationship with clause 7.1.6.

Many knowledge management (KM) models emphasize learning before, during and after a project. Online Figure 2 shows the British Petroleum (BP) KM model.4 For example, after finishing a project, the project team should review the project and try to capture lessons learned by asking:

  • What was expected to happen?
  • What actually happened?
  • What went well and why?
  • What can be improved and how?
  • What are the lessons that can be used in the future?

Online Figure 2

Some organizations document the after-action review (AAR) results in a form. The completion of the form can be a requirement to close a project. The AAR results can be used as an input for a new project development—the “learn before” phase in Online Figure 2. Also, at each milestone, the project team holds a meeting to review the lessons learned in each phase (the “learn during” phase).

New materials. New materials usually are outputs of product design, which act as an input for manufacturing process design. New materials may require new equipment or tooling, so it is important to consider new materials in manufacturing process design.

In the Advanced Product Quality Planning and Control Plan manual, new materials have been referred in an A3 checklist—for example, new equipment, tooling and test equipment checklist.5

Product handling and ergonomic requirements. The method used to handle the product through the process is an important factor for manufacturing process design. The designer should know whether the product should be handled by slide containers or roller conveyors, for example. This input can affect layout and process flow. Environmental aspects also should be considered when addressing product handling.

Ergonomics is a matter that’s directly related to people’s health. The manufacturing process designer should be aware of ergonomic requirements and principles, and should try to meet and incorporate them in his or her design. For example, the height of an assembly roller conveyor should be compatible with ergonomic requirements or the load of work operations should not exceed the standard level.

Design for manufacturing and design for assembly (DFMA). This is another subject that’s considered in product design. By this requirement, the standard wants people who perform process design to know the assumptions that the product design team used when designing for manufacture and assembly. If the product design team considered the unidirectional (z-axis) assembly for the product, for example, the manufacturing process design team should design the process and fixtures in a way that allows all parts to be assembled on the product in a z-axis direction without additional rotation of the product or its fixtures.

The last paragraph of clause states: “The manufacturing process design shall include the use of error-proofing methods to a degree appropriate to the magnitude of the problem(s) and commensurate with the risks encountered.” This requirement was a note in the earlier version of ISO/TS 16949 and has become a requirement in the new standard.

Error-proofing has been defined in IATF 16949 clause 3.1 as: “Product and manufacturing process design and development to prevent manufacture of nonconforming products.”

By adding this requirement under manufacturing process design input, the standard inspires that error-proofing methods are inputs for the manufacturing process design process. Including error-proofing in the manufacturing process, however, is an activity of the manufacturing design process.

The requirement asks organizations to use error-proofing methods—such as contact sensors or image processors—to prevent the manufacturing of nonconforming products or detects of nonconforming products. Although the error-proofing definition refers only to methods of preventing the manufacture of nonconforming product, it seems that the scope of this requirement also covers methods to discover nonconforming products.

To do this, the organization should have criteria for identifying the opportunity for error-proofing based a the magnitude of the problem and the risks encountered. The following can be used to identify the opportunity for error-proofing:

  • Results from a failure mode and effects analysis (FMEA). High-risk failures can be identified based on severity or severity-occurrence from an FMEA document.
  • Historical warranty and quality information of similar parts.
  • The operator’s dominant processes.

Organizations can use a table such as Online Table 1 for identifying error-proofing opportunities and the result of evaluation.

Online Table 1

If manufacturing process design input requirements are not defined and reviewed adequately, the resulting manufacturing process performance will not meet expectations, including customer needs.


  1. International Organization for Standardization, ISO 30400:2016—Human resource management—Vocabulary, www.iso.org/standard/66032.html.
  2. ASQ, “Quality Glossary,” asq.org/quality-resources/quality-glossary/p.
  3. Asian Productivity Organization (APO), “Glossary,” www.apo-tokyo.org/publications/p_glossary/productivity.
  4. APO, Knowledge Management: Facilitators’ Guide, APO, 2009, p. 98
  5. Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), Advanced Product Quality Planning and Control Plan, second edition, AIAG, 2008.

Morteza Kheirkhah is a quality management system auditor at TÜV NORD Group in Alberta, Canada. Kheirkhah has a master’s degree in industrial engineering from the Malek-Ashtar University of Technology in Tehran, Iran.

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