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Recently, a commercial showed large chunks of machinery and metal being thrown from somewhere off-screen into a large, open field. As the commercial went on, more and more of these discarded car frames and parts were being thrown. At the end, the viewer learned that it wasn’t really these large parts that were being thrown out, but the plans for them, drawn on pieces of paper that were crumpled up by their designers. The engineers, obviously unsatisfied with their sketches, returned to their desks as a strong voice-over could be heard: “There are good ideas, and there are bad ideas. And then there are ideas that are held to a higher standard.” In 2002, a “higher” standard, created from the base of ISO 9000, was developed. ISO/TS: 16949 continued the notion of a quality management system and the savings inherent in globalizing system requirements. However, it drilled down even further to challenge all members of an organization to connect to meaningful goals and the achievement of those targets. As different companies developed 16949 within their own systems, they realized fewer complaints and less miscommunication between departments. They were also seeing great improvement in the quality of their systems, and the achievement of their targets for customer satisfaction.

Realizing ISO/TS:16949

Recently, Rotor Clip Company, Inc., a major manufacturer of retaining rings and self-compensating hose clamps to the automotive industry and its distributor partners, recognized the same benefits that could be earned from 16949. Having earned ISO/QS 9000 years earlier, it took them about three to four months to earn ISO/TS :16949. An important first step is to define what goals you want to achieve. Your customers through everyday contact and formal and informal surveys determine these. Once these are agreed upon, you can then proceed to “map” each one. Mapping involves setting a goal, listing the steps needed to achieve that goal and developing a metric or, simply put, a way to measure that you are actually achieving your goal. Mapping is not only an easy and clear way of following 16949’s clauses; it is also a logical starting point for those who want to implement 16949 in their own companies as well as become familiar with what it is like to work with the standard.

“Product Realization”—Mapping It Out

Rotor Clip developed a total of six goals, which were clarified through mapping. A “Control Plan” map, which traces what the process is from an idea to the finished product, or more simply, shows what happens from the minute an input is offered to the output of a certain order. One example of a Rotor Clip map is the “Product Realization” goal. The map is structured by a collection of boxes connected by straight lines and arrows. On either side of the boxes are different links to the clauses described in the TS 16949 Implementation Guide, and on the upper left side, a key is available to decode the different symbols that are arranged throughout the map (for example, “QD,” Quotation Dept. and “EN,” engineering). Another box on the top of the map identifies the owner of this particular Control Plan (the VP of Automotive Sales Engineering, in this case), and on the bottom of the map, both the metric and target for the map (in this case first time PPAP approval and 100% approval rate) are labeled. Ownership is key as there must be one individual (backed by other groups/individuals) responsible for the achievement of a particular goal. “Product Realization” (the process it takes for an order to be filled from its realization until its shipping) shows an input coming into the company, in the form of an RFQ (Request for Quote), where it is received by the Quotation Department. If it is a standard item, a formal quotation is completed. If it is a non-standard part, it is then sent to Technical Sales, which identifies the part. TS also conducts a feasibility study to see if the part can be made to their specifications. If this is not possible, the customer is notified; if the part can be made successfully, then it is sent to Quotations for a formal quote. Once the order is received Customer Service checks this against the quote to make sure what is being ordered is what was actually quoted. Any discrepancies can be resolved at this stage. CS also checks for any special requirements needed to fill the order. If not, the order is entered and shipped as requested; but if there are special requirements needed, a Realization Plan is developed, which gauges what needs to be done to complete the order. A major part of a Realization Plan is a Production Part Approval Process, otherwise known as a PPAP. During a PPAP, the parts in the input go through a screening that determines whether or not they meet the customer’s requirements. Acceptance of the PPAP is crucial, since parts cannot be produced until the supplier and the customer agree on all specifications. This is why first time PPAP approval is used as the main measurement of the success of product realization.

Benefits to Mapping

One of the major (and most simple) benefits from this process comes from the age-old fact that time is money. If a product needs to be shipped, it is more beneficial if the quantity of products can be shipped quickly and without problem. If a problem is discovered along the way from the product’s request to its realization, however, the problem can be easily located, the miscommunication cleared, and the problem fixed before too much time is lost, while at the same time building a strong quality system for the company. In using the mapping system, not only could the process between input and output be clearly seen, but in this one example of the “Product Realization” map, it met sixty-two of the requirements (in both links and related clauses) found in the TS:16949 Implementation Guide alone. Each step of the process is developed with a clause from the standard set as a guideline, which makes it easy to see what is being met and what is not. Using a map is also handy in providing a visual aid to give a visiting TS:16949 Inspector a guided tour to ensure everything is working smoothly.


Don’t be intimidated by the TS standard. Make your start by looking for those obvious activities that mean the most to your customers. Get everyone together, set goals and start mapping each along with measurements and targets. You’ll be well on your way to achieving that “higher standard.”

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