Hutchinson Belt Drive Systems became ISO/TS 16949 certified in 2016 for its plant in Mexico. The company is now running for the new version of this technical standard for automotive sector quality management systems. Interview with Jose Sergio Sanchez Carmona, Quality Engineer.
Why did the company want to achieve ISO/TS 16949:2009 certification?
Hutchinson Belt Drive Systems started operating in Mexico in 2011, but at the time we had just one small production line. Thanks to our customers’ growth, we added three more lines and decided in 2014 to certify our quality management system. We wanted to implement a continuous improvement process as well as help our staff develop their expertise, make them more aware of what quality is and of its added value.
How did you get ready for the certification?
We first declared and mapped our current process. Our staff and the internal auditors needed training in order to understand the standard requirements and the rules of ISO/TS 16949. The employees were very much involved because they are the process owners, so they need to master it. We also defined indicators, wrote the structure and determined the key measures which are essential to accomplish the standard. We were ready for the Afnor auditors after more than a year of hard work. They helped us during the certification audit and gave us very good advice. That was much appreciated since it was the first time we achieved certification. They explained the nonconformities so we could easily implement the proper corrective actions and they clarified why we did not achieve some requirements and how we could improve our process until the next audit.
Did you come across some difficulties?
Mapping out our work organization and all the different interactions was a bit tricky. Here in Celaya we do the manufacturing but the support functions are located in France (R&D and purchasing) and in the United States (HR, accountability, IT, safety, sales). The warehouse, where 80% of our production is sent, is also in the USA. We had to schedule meetings with all the different people that were involved and the time difference did not make things easy.
How are you now getting ready to achieve the newest version of the certification (IATF 16949)?
The employees are doing their best to be ready for the upcoming audit which will take place during the first quarter of 2018. We schedule internal audits regularly and in case of a nonconformity, we react quickly and try to always respect the requirements. We also set up seminars about the transition, which involved the top management. It’s essential that they understand the changes and why it’s important to go ahead with the project, so they will give us the necessary resources. Then we identified the key changes and discussed them with the staff. Together we studied the new standard, which is completely different from the previous one. One of the key changes was having to add the risk analysis to the process. Taking it into account is very hard but the staff is committed and willing to make the necessary changes. Finally, the internal auditors were trained.
What is this certification’s added value?
Once the process is over, our quality management system will have improved a lot. We’ll be very proud of what we’ve achieved and I am sure our customers will also be satisfied. Being certified definitely brings an added value to the company and justifies the extra work. This manufacturing sector is expanding in Mexico. There are lots of new assembly lines in the country, which means new business opportunities. So a top notch quality management system is a must.