It is hard work to become a supplier to the international automotive industry. FJ Industries have built a position as a respected producer of components in cast, machined, and sintered metal, and that has been possible through our persistent work with quality assurance.
Our quality system has the internationally recognized IATF 16949 certification, which is a condition for supplying components to the automotive industry.
What is IATF 16949?
IATF 16949 is the international standard for quality assurance in the automotive industry. IATF is an abbreviation of the International Automotive Task Force – a group of car manufacturers that has developed the standards, which subsequently have been approved and published by the IATF, the international organisation for standardization.
IATF 16949 is based on the widely recognized ISO 9001 certification, with the addition of the special demands that the automotive manufacturers make on their suppliers. The result is a highly demanding certification that supports the suppliers in their work of developing process-oriented systems of quality assurance that ensure continuous improvement, hinder errors, reduce quality fluctuations, and – importantly – minimize the waste throughout the supply chain.
Our Work with IATF 16949
To meet the many requirements of the IATF 16949, all processes at FJ Industries are precisely describes, partly in general instructions, partly in more detail on the process/product level and in manuals. All of our completed processes are documented through fixed control plans (SPC), and all data is archived for 20 years. Our system is inspected yearly, at all shifts, by Bureau Veritas, but we also have an internal audit team in order to ensure and document that we meet the requirements at all times.
To be IATF 16949 certified means that we, apart from ISO 9001, need to comply to a long series of demands in different parts of the operation. Here are some of the most important ones:
All our procurement of raw materials, surface treatment, etc. happens through suppliers that are approved in accordance with fixed requirements and procedures. Suppliers are continuously assessed in order to secure stable supplies with regards to both quality and reliability of delivery. If we find that suppliers do not live up to the requirements, an action plan with the necessary improvements will be agreed upon. Each commodity that we receive is registered and inspected in accordance with our control plans. Commodities that are a part the of the finished components are traceable.
RFQ (request from a customer)
Before we send an offer, the customer’s request is treated interdisciplinarily by representatives from quality, production, the technical department, and sales. The team examines the customer’s drawing and demands in terms of standards and other matters – a team feasibility study – in which it is considered whether we can manufacture the components, or whether adjustments are needed. Sales and production assess our capacity etc., before an offer is made. Furthermore, we go through those of the customer’s specific demands, which go beyond the standard – this can be things like corporate social responsibility (CSR), environmental documentation, packaging, other demands of documentation, etc. Through this well-planned process, we ensure that we can meet the customer’s demand.
After an order is received
When we receive an order for a new component, we begin the APQP process, which via checklists leads the project through five phases, throughout which various requirements are described. This ensures a uniform process with checklists, which has developed through many years of experience with projects.
APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning) is one of the tools that are required in relation to the IATF 16949 standard. It is divided into five phases with “gates” at which certain requirements have to be fulfilled, before the next phases can begin. This guarantees that a project is managed with quality and that we get the end product right the first time. The APQP process concludes with an evaluation after the first three batches in order to ensure a stable continuous production afterwards. Each phase is documented in accordance with fixed schemas checking consignment, construction of tools, establishment of production processes, control plan, MSA, etc. Thereby, we ensure that all necessary documents, instructions, and specifications are present at the right time.
Our work with APQP and PPAP is described in detail in another article.
Further, IATF has attached four tools that are to be applied in relation to APQP (new and altered products) and to follow up on processes.
The thorough preparation implies that general instructions for all production processes are now present, including a description of how the controls are conducted. There is a general instruction for the process (e.g., the set-up and pressing of components) and, further, component-specific work instruction in which the method and the special demands are described. This work instruction also describes the content and frequencies of the controls that are to be performed on the specific component. All of this ensures a uniform production.
Each finished component will be controlled before they are released to the customers. This is described in a general instruction and a component-specific work instruction. Each instruction refers to actions if deviations from the specifications are found. In such a case, the component will immediately be blocked with a yellow “blocked” card.
All workers have a right and a duty to stop a process that does not lead to the desired result. Each deviating component will be moved to the quarantine area, until it is decided whether it is possible to sort or rework it. Reworked components undergo a final inspection before they are released to the customer. Some customers demand that they have to approve of rework before it is initiated.
All deviations, complaints, etc. are registered in our 8D database, where work on preventive actions is registered and archived for use in on-going improvements. The deviation and problem solving process is performed interdisciplinarily with the quality department in a co-ordinating role. We use analysis methods as 5Why and Ishikawa diagrams to determine the root cause.
All the measurement instruments that are used for the control of components are registered, and they are calibrated in accordance with fixed frequencies. Further, measurement system analyses (MSA) are performed in order to ensure that only suitable equipment is used.
There are plans for preventive maintenance, assessment of critical machines, and lists of spare parts for these, in order to ensure our production capacity. Registrations are gathered of breakdown with analysis of cause.
It Is Also Important for Us to Know the Experience of the Customer
FJ Industries conduct a yearly customer satisfaction survey. Further, each evaluation received from the customers are registered, and they are regularly scrutinised by the sales team and the logistics and quality departments, and correcting actions are agreed upon if they are deemed necessary. At the same time, we measure our supply performance internally in order to ensure that we meet customer demands.
All of these processes guarantee that FJ Industries are always delivering quality products, which meet customer demands.