Automotive Audits for an Efficient IATF 16949 Certification Process

Automotive Audits IATF 16949

Automotive Audits for IATF 16949

Automotive audits are a necessity if you want your company to achieve IATF 16949 certification. Learn more about automotive quality standards and how Smithers' expertise can help you start your journey through the automotive auditing process.

Request a quote today to benefit from our extensive IATF 16949 expertise.


Automotive Audits That Drive Your Company's Quality Efforts

Automotive audits are the key to complying with automotive standards like ISO/TS 16949, now known as IATF 16949:2016. Certifying your quality management system provides the pathway toward essential benefits, and automotive compliance audits create the signposts along that path.

This article will review the automotive audit process and its benefits, offering insights you can use as you prepare to meet the relevant automotive quality standards.

A Quick History of the Automotive Standard ISO/TS 16949 (IATF 16949)

As you develop your plans for an IATF 16949 audit, it can be helpful to understand the background of the automotive standard ISO/TS 16949. The original standard was published in June 1999 as ISO/TS 16949:1999. In 2002, the standard expanded to incorporate the requirements of ISO 9001.

With multiple quality standards in play, the International Automotive Task Force worked to harmonize the various requirements and create one overarching standard. The IATF sought an unprecedented level of input from stakeholders, including automotive manufacturers, to draft IATF 16949:2016, which replaced ISO/TS 16949 in October 2016. Numerous differences between IATF and TS 16949 set the two systems apart.

Automotive Audits IATF 16949

Automotive Standard IATF 16949 vs. ISO 9001

When considering the automotive standard ISO 16949 vs. 9001, you need to remember there are inherent similarities between the two standards since IATF 16949 completely incorporates ISO 9001.

Still, there are also differences between the two quality management systems. IATF 16949 goes beyond ISO 9001's focus on customer satisfaction and requires compliance with customer-specific requirements embedded into the newer standard. IATF also touches on product safety and conformance of products and processes, whereas ISO 9001 does not.

Our side-by-side comparison between ISO 9001 and IATF 16949 details additional areas where the two standards diverge.

The Benefits of an Automotive Audit

Certification to IATF 16949 is now table stakes for the automotive industry supply chain, and an automotive audit provides the template to get there. Successfully navigating an automotive audit provides essential benefits like:

  • Better internal management
  • Less waste
  • Improved efficiency and productivity
  • Higher profits
  • More employee engagement
  • Increased customer retention and acquisition

Undergoing an automotive audit also allows your company to deliver consistent outcomes that can be measured and monitored.

Types of Automotive Audits

IATF 16949 is a complex standard, requiring an array of automotive audits. The most frequently used automotive audits during IATF 16949 certification are the:

  • Quality management system audit
  • Product audit
  • Manufacturing process audit
In turn, customer-specific requirements can detail different types of manufacturing process audits, such as:
  • Continuous quality improvement audits
  • Layered process audits
  • Advanced product quality planning (APQP) output audits

If the customer-specific requirement doesn't outline the audit type, it's the responsibility of the organization being certified to designate which automotive audit will be used.

Who Inspects Auto Parts Manufacturers for ISO/TS 16949 (IATF 16949)?

Highly qualified and trained auditors inspect auto parts manufacturers for ISO/TS 16949 (IATF 16949) compliance. The International Automotive Task Force lays out numerous requirements for automotive auditors, including:

  • Conducting at least six ISO 9001 third-party audits in manufacturing industries and serving as audit team leader for at least three audits
  • Completing four years of full-time appropriate practical experience (including two years dedicated to quality assurance or quality management) in an applicable organization during the last 15 years
  • Observing at least one complete IATF 16949 third-party audit that lasts at least two days

When preparing for a visit from automotive auditors, it's crucial to use an IATF 16949 checklist to ensure you have every section of the certification process covered

Trust Your Automotive Audit Needs to Smithers

At Smithers, we require all our automotive auditors to complete rigorous training, testing and re-qualification before they can perform automotive audits for our customers. We also are one of the few U.S.-based organizations approved by the IATF to certify companies to IATF 16949. Contact us today to take advantage of our automotive audit expertise.


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