QMT Features: July 2016
ISO/TS 16949 – clearing up the confusion
Richard Mount of SWINDON Silicon systems explains what the change in eligibility for the automotive quality standard means in practice

ISO/TS 16949, based on the quality standard ISO9001 was first introduced for the automotive industry in 1999 and since its first publication it has been regarded as a ‘must-have’ for companies engaged in design/development and manufacture in the automotive industry.

However, there has been a change in eligibility and that has caused some confusion in the industry. The governing body, International Automotive Task Force (IATF) has ruled that all fabless semi-conductor companies, not directly engaged in manufacturing, are no longer eligible for accreditation.
This ruling means that companies such as SWINDON Silicon Systems, a world leader in Tyre Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS) can no longer be accredited. So what happens now? Can it still supply the automotive industry and what quality systems need to be in place?

ISO/TS 16949 Accreditation

Despite the confusion and rumours throughout the industry, the fact remains that all fabless semiconductor companies can continue to supply ASICs (Application Specific Integrated Circuits) to the automotive industry, as before, as long as their foundry and packaging suppliers are ISO/TS 16949 accredited. World leading automotive OEMs including Mercedes, BMW, Nissan, Ford and GM are, and will continue to be, supplied by fabless companies.
Richard Mount, Sales Director at SWINDON Silicon Systems says “This change in accreditation does not change our approach to quality systems and their processes, and we now treat the TS requirements as customer requirements. We expect that this will also be the same for other companies that supply the automotive industry.”

IATF clarifies the rules for accreditation
The IATF has gone out of its way to reassure semi-conductor companies like SWINDON that specific activities that could be considered by some as part of manufacturing process are excluded.
It has ruled that none of the processes listed in the table opposite on their own or in combination meets the ISO/TS 16949 eligibility: (see table).

Quality Control is Essential

However, engineers at SWINDON know that the ISO/TS 16949 methodology is built into their systems and culture and provides a well-established automotive baseline for business. A quality system is in place that covers the whole process from planning, design and development, through manufacture and test and customers can be assured that the company will continue to provide PPAPs (Production Part Approval Process) including manufacturing data obtained during APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning) as it did before.

Supplying the automotive industry and its strict quality requirements

Supplying to the automotive industry means that there will always be strict and stringent quality requirements so all companies have a commitment to continually improve processes and to maintain the same tight control over product change and implementation.

Companies should be in daily contact with their global suppliers to ensure that they understand every aspect of a project and that nothing is left to chance. It is also essential to conduct frequent site visits to assess working practices and to gain a thorough understanding of the manufacturing processes being employed. It is not sufficient to know that suppliers meet TS but companies need to understand how their processes operate and that Quality is assured.

So even though there have been changes with the IATF ruling on which companies are eligible for ISO/TS 16949 accreditation, in reality nothing has changed.
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Rob Tremain Photographer
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