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Alexandra Gies

Premium materials and flawless surfaces do not suffice – semifinished product suppliers need to ensure above all else that their products are absolutely outstanding. There are various sector-specific requirements profiles for achieving this, most of which are established as standards. Certification in line with these standards ensures that customers receive goods that have been subjected to the most stringent quality checks.

Meeting the IATF 16949 standard is crucial for suppliers serving the automotive industry. This is a company-wide task, coordinated by Quality Management. We asked our colleague Alexandra Gies a few questions about this topic.

Ms. Gies, what is the abbreviation IATF 16949 all about?

IATF stands for International Automotive Task Force, an association of major carmakers. IATF 16949 is a revision of ISO/TS 16949, the preceding standard that has established itself as a global quality standard in the automotive industry. By gaining this certification, we have reached an important milestone that ensures our continued cooperation with this industry. In the end, it’s our high-quality products that make us stand out from the competition and remain a supplier over the long term.

What is the difference between the new and the old standard?

The IATF has rephrased, extended, or added many requirements for suppliers. This primarily concerns documentation and risk analysis. Everything we do must be traceable. And because we can do that, we have successfully passed the audit.

And are therefore a certified supplier for the automotive industry...

Exactly. Meeting this standard is the prerequisite for being able to serve as a supplier to the automotive industry. Customers who make purchases from certified suppliers can rest assured that all of the industry standards for quality management systems have been met.

Every action and activity performed must be verifiable retroactively.

Alexandra Gies, thyssenkrupp Steel Quality Management

How do you ensure that all requirements are being met?

This is the joint task of the multipliers throughout our locations. For a company of our size and varied portfolio, this is a huge undertaking. Colleagues must ensure that every employee in the individual companies knows what to look out for. Every action and activity performed must be verifiable retroactively – regardless of the system or the process step involved. And this must be internalized, because if we do not regularly prove compliance with these standards, we could lose orders.

How often do suppliers need to carry out this review process?

We carry out annual monitoring and go through re-certification every three years. If any irregularities are detected during that process, we have to create a plan for resolving them.

That sounds like an ongoing process – going from audit to audit, so to speak...

That’s right. We’re motivated to constantly keep our product and process quality at high levels, and to continuously improve them as well. Our annual audit lets us confirm that we’re on the right course as far as that’s concerned.

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