Vol. 1, No. 9, November 2017


Subaru, the Japanese automobile manufacturer, had always been known for high performance and versatility since the first model SUBARU 360 was released in 1958.

On October 27, 2017, however, the head of Subaru revealed that over the past 30 years, the final process inspectors who inspected the finished vehicles did not actually have the required qualifications. These unqualified employees borrowed seals from authorized employees and simply stamped documents to show vehicles had passed the tests.

The incident involved 255,000 vehicles and the recall costs would exceed 10 billion yen (approximately USD88.55 million).

In fact, flawed inspections by un-qualified inspectors at automotive manufacturing companies are not rare and even more wide-spread in many different ways in the aftermarket manufacturing industry. During regular supplier audits for oversea clients, Shentou has discovered various practices of flawed inspections.

For example, when auditing one supplier recently, we found the factory, in order to save costs, had no dedicated inspector for first-off piece as well as process inspection on the production line. All first-off piece inspection records were filled in by production line operators. When the factory quality managers were challenged on this, they responded that the inspections were to be carried out by field workers based on internal policies but then failed to provide documentation to prove the workers had been properly trained and qualified.

During another supplier audit, it was discovered that the signatures on the audit reports did not match the actual auditors. It turned out that the auditor qualification certificate was held by one of the owners of the factory, someone not involved in quality management, and the actual auditors were completely un-qualified. The factory came up with the strategy so as to avoid the costs of repeated trainings due to constant personnel change or loss. The thinking was to have people unlikely to leave the factory to be qualified as internal auditors even though they have nothing to do with quality management. So the qualification certification is just a piece of paper for dealing with audit requirements.

All of these phenomena have shown that these factories are not strict with the operations of the quality management system. They not only fail to meet the standards of automotive quality management system but also potentially bring about serious quality risks.

According to IATF 16949:2016, Section 7.2, on competence, organizations shall establish and maintain documentation processes, identify training needs including awareness, and prepare all personnel engaged in compliance activities that affect product requirements and processes ability. Personnel assigned to specific assignments should be accredited as required, with a particular focus on satisfying customer requirements. At the same time, there are also clear requirements on the capabilities of internal auditors and second-party auditors.

One of the differences between this requirement and ISO/TS16949 is the increased awareness. Employees are required to be aware of their impact on product quality and the importance of their activities in achieving, maintaining and improving quality. It also includes customer requirement and the risks noncompliance may bring to the customers.

In some small and medium-sized aftermarket manufacturing companies, even though there is no full-time first-off piece and process inspectors and inspections are completed by assembly operators, factories must not only ensure that these workers are properly trained with knowledge of MSA and other related inspection methods as well as skills to select and use appropriate inspection tools, but also make timely records. For processes with special requirements, factories must ensure that the inspectors have received training and been assessed to have the job qualifications.

By Felix SS YUAN



Types of automotive air conditioning condenser:
(1) Tube & Fin Condenser,
(2) Serpentine Condenser,
(3) Parallel Flow Condenser

Primary failure mode: Leakage

Main causes: Materials, refrigerant quality, welding quality, deformation by external forces, etc.

Key quality control of finished product: Air tightness, main dimensions, appearance, packaging



Automotive Aftermarket QMS Standard (I)

On 29th of November, 2017, the first day of Automechanika Shanghai 2017, a group of concerned stakeholders of the global automotive aftermarket industry, headed by Shentou the publisher of this Newsletter, announced the project initiation to develop a set of quality management system (QMS) standards specifically for the automotive aftermarket.

The proposed standards include the Automotive Aftermarket QMS Standard and the Automotive Aftermarket Quality Assurance Capability Assessment Standard. At the same time, the group also proposed to set up an Alliance of Automotive Aftermarket Quality Assurance (AAAQA) for the development and advocacy of the proposed standards as well as the organization of the assessment operations based on the standards for the benefits of its members.

This project is based on the premise that the current QMS standard for the global automotive industry, the IATF (formerly ISO/TS) 16949, is in fact for the OEM supply chains only, and there is a lack of universally accepted and applicable QMS standard for the diversified and differentiated automotive aftermarket.

According to the “Automotive certification scheme for IATF 16949, Rules for achieving and maintaining IATF recognition”, 5th Edition, 1st November 2016, “Sites manufacturing only aftermarket parts are not eligible for IATF certification”. Although some factories for aftermarket only have also managed to obtain the IAF16949 certifications, few of them have actually met the standard’s requirements and the certificates are unfortunately mostly for marketing purpose only.

AAAQA is now inviting all stakeholders to participate in the project and join the efforts. For more information on the project, please visit


Cost of raw materials:
Exchange rates:

USD/RMB: 1: 6.63

EUR/RMB: 1:7.88

RUB/RMB: 1:0.11

December 2017

The above information is for reference only


With December comes the closing of 2017. While Christmas is not officially celebrated in China, it is still a big festival day in China, especially for the young people. For most Chinese, the end of 2017 means the coming of the New Year’s Day and most importantly, the Spring Festival, i.e. the traditional Chinese New Year.

The Chinese New Year of 2018, the year of Dog, starts on Saturday, February 16th, 2018. We’ve already heard plans by many factories to close down for the holiday period in early February. In order not to disrupt the regular sales seasons, international buyers are advised to start planning as early as possible with their suppliers in China to prepare for the holidays when normal productions and deliveries will be completely stopped and/or seriously delayed, sometimes for as long as a month.

Happy Holidays!

SHENTOU SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT CO. LTD. is a Shenzhen, China, based company serving international automotive clients in the implementation of their China strategies and programs. CHINA AUTOMOTIVE SUPPLIER QUALITY MANAGEMENT BRIEFING is a bi-monthly newsletter published by Shentou to address the specific and unique quality challenges and concerns international automotive companies face with suppliers in China. Comments are welcome at Click here to subscribe.

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