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Date:2013-05-02 09:26

1. Origin of TS16949 Standard: TS16949 standard is an important reform in the supply chain management of the automobile industry. With the arrival of the era of global economic integration, criss-cross automobile production supply chain has extended to more and more countries, regions, industries and enterprises. All car factories strive to develop and promote programs or rules of how to select, evaluate and control suppliers at all levels systematically, which is finally reflected in constantly improving and controlling suppliers’ product quality planning and production process control through making quality assurance and quality management system standards.
The three auto companies that have the most impact to the global automobile supply chain are certainly Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, which have begun to adopt the QS9000 standard ever since 1994 as their unified quality system requirements to suppliers. At the same time, European auto manufacturers also have developed their own supplier standard (for example VDA6.1 of Germany, EAQF of Italy and AVSQ of France). These quality standard standards have highly reflected currently the world’s most advanced CS- customer satisfaction strategy theories and methods that have become mature in America and Europe, absorbed and refined lots of succession enterprises’ quality management and enterprise management practical experience, combined auto products’ special features, consumer requirements and specific manufacturing process and have strong operability and inspectability.
However, every car group has their own system, which will undoubtedly pose a significant technical barrier to trade under the trend of global sourcing and bring troubles to auto parts suppliers. For example, most American-held auto parts supplier production bases in the USA need to meet the QS9000 when establishing a quality system and also the requirements of VDA6.1 at the same time, which is of course produced by two unavoidable factors: mutual merger of Daimler - Mercedes-Benz and Chrysler – lots of U.S. companies supply auto parts to German BMW and Mercedes-Benz located in the USA and German Volkswagen located in Mexico. Similarly, Adam Opel, a branch of the US GM set up in Germany and Fort Werke Automobile Factory insist on requiring their supplier quality system meet the requirements of QS9000. In order to meet different customer requirements, auto parts factories must maintain different standards of management systems at the same time, which increases quality cost virtually and finally leads to that the whole automobile supply chain pays a high price for this.
The voice of many car manufacturers in the world leads to that some world-class well-known car manufacturers have begun to seek for a unified supplier control standard together with the automobile industry institutions of various countries in the world (mainly in Europe and America) since the end of last century. Under the coordination of the ISO/TC176 (Quality Control and Quality Assurance Committee), eight great groups and automobile associations of great car powers including the USA, Germany, France, Italy and the Great Britain set up an ATF-International Automotive Task Force and formulated the world automobile industry’s unified quality system requirement based on the ISO9001:2000 -- ISO/TS 16949:2002 Technical Standard -- Quality Management System – Automobile Industry Production Parts and Related Service Parts Organization Application ISO9001:2000 Special Requirements eventually released in March 2002 together with the Japan Auto Manufacturing Association (JAMA).
2. Essence of the TS16949 Standard
The TS16949 Standard issued in 2002 pays less attention to documentation but more focuses on process control, cost control, customer management, performance management and employee incentives and increases special requirements of the automobile industry. It highlights advanced concepts and eight quality management principles including “Regard customers focus of attention”, “Pay attention to defect prevention”, “Reduce variation and waste” and “Emphasize sustainable improvement”; applies the five tools of Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP),  Production Part Approval Process (PPAP), Potential Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (FEMA), Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Measurement System Analysis (MSA) Production Part Approval Process, and implements “Process Methods” throughout many activities of enterprises and emphasizes process control.
The so-called process refers to an activity transporting input into output by use of resources and management. Business activities can be divided into three processes: customer-oriented process, support process and management process. During certification assessment, the assessor verifies according to process and the verification content includes the TS16949 standard requirements and the special requirements of customers and the assessment is done in two phases, namely, document assessment and on-site assessment.
3. How the TS16949 affects the foundry industry
Several Promotion Types
As we all know, compared with the automobile industry which can significantly stimulate economic growth, foundry is just a kind of production and manufacturing craft process and foundries can only enter the auto supply chain in the form of different castings.
OEMs generally divide the suppliers into Grade I, Grade II and Grade III in accordance with the closeness of supply relationship with them. The urgent degree of suppliers putting forward the TS16949 requirements is basically in line with this grade.
Many castings cannot become auto parts until passing through many machining processes, so pure specialized foundries are generally Grade III or Grade Ⅳ suppliers and in the upstream position of the automobile supply chain. Only a few of foundries are likely to be mandatorily required to pass the TS16949 certification because auto castings they produce will enter the car assembly system with a small follow-up processing amount or they can assume more mechanical cutting and other deep processing before delivering products.
In recent years, some top international multinational companies, including many non-automobile industries, have recognized that the TS16949 is advanced and scientific and adopted it as the standard of supplier inspection and the second-party verification.
It is worth noting that the above conditions are customer-driven; sharp-sighted foundry enterprise managers also see the advance and scientificity of TS16949, introduce it in and implement it initiatively, refine their internal management and conduct process monitoring well, which is rare manager promotion.
Impact of the TS16949 New Thinking
There are many reasons for why the TS16949 is so highly praised by foundry customers and far-sighted entrepreneurs. But, fundamentally speaking, it is because many enterprise management concepts and thinking it advocates contain the practical experience and wisdom accumulated by human over the past two hundreds of years or more.
For example, the following several points are worthy of our thinking by combing the characteristics of casting enterprises:
a) With the passage of time and the progress of mankind, the concept of quality management changes:
-- The United States in 1922
As the second industrial revolution of the Western became in-depth, people regarded quality as inspection, which also happed in the beginning of China’s reform and opening up in 1980s. Even the most quality inspection, inspection methods and instrument R&D in the foundry industry formed a climax at that time.
-- The United States during 1980 and 1993
With the application of system analysis engineering in enterprises, people realized that to ensure quality should be the responsibility of the top management. This point has never been strengthened obviously. Even now, CEOs and senior leaders of many foundry enterprises still believe that casting quality has something to do with equipment, personnel and materials, but nothing to do with them.

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