International aftermarket automotive companies purchasing spare parts in China are usually satisfied with large aftermarket suppliers, as they are typically presented with beautiful plants, advanced equipment and modern assembly lines when inspecting the factories. However, a not-uncommon practice among many such factories when it comes to the actual order production is to have some (or even most) of the goods produced by their secondary suppliers while the main suppliers handle the final processing or just the packing.
These outsourcings enable the suppliers to rapidly grow the business and easily increase the revenues and profits without having to invest additional resources such as product development, facility expansions and additional human resources.
While some secondary suppliers are equally qualified, many are unfortunately small in production scale with incomplete quality management system. The product range of the individual supplier in this case is usually limited by design of the main supplier’s strategies and its independent capability of order handling is very weak. The common characteristics of such secondary suppliers are backward process, labor-intensive production, poor management systems, and of course lower costs.
This type of outsourced production, usually not fully disclosed to the international buyers, poses potentially serious quality issues if not well quality-controlled, and presents the following challenges:
How to watch for the telltale signs of such outsourcing practices?
●Analyze the sales and actual production capacity data;
●Evaluate the configuration status of the production and testing equipment, production process, and departmental staff allocations to estimate the actual and surplus production capacities;
●Spot check warehouses of finished and semi-finished goods or turnover areas of raw materials and suppliers for signs of outsourced products;
●Verify the status and identification cards of the products to be processed on the assembly lines against the arrangement of production process.
What measures could be taken to address the quality threats when the outsourcing is not completely avoidable?
●Review and audit the “Supplier Selection Management Procedures” to determine their compliance with the quality management procedures.
●Check whether outsourcing management procedure or the IQC inspection is applied to the outsourced products.
●Undertake secondary supplier audits and help with correction and improvement of their quality management capability as well as upgrades of their production process.
By Felix YUAN
Steel Wheel Rim
●Radial and lateral runout values are out of specifications, resulting in vibrations and less comfort during usage, and reduced life span.
●Defective welding, resulting in air leaking or decreased service life.
●Insufficient material strength, resulting in sub-standard load capacity and decreased service life.
Key quality controls of the finished products:
●100% inspection of runout values.
●Ultrasonic flaw detection and 100%visual inspection.
●Radial fatigue testing.
Types of automotive raditors:
●Based on structure: Grilledtube radiator, Ribbon-tubular radiator;
●Based on material: Aluminum-plastic radiators, Aluminum radiator, Copper radiator;
●Based on processing methods of the aluminum core: Mechanical radiator, Brazing radiator.
Primary failure mode:
●Leakage, usually caused by inferior qualities of seals, chambers and welding, or by external deformation.
Key quality control of the finish goods:
●Air tightness testing
●Key dimension inspection
Transition from ISO/TS 16949:2009 to IATF 16949:2016
In October 2016, the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) announced the transition from ISO/TS 16949:2009 to IATF16949:2016.
According to “IAFT Transition Strategy Rev2”, dated 22 November 2016:
●All organizations seeking initial certification can be certified to ISO/TS 16949:2009 until 1 October 2017, after which no audits shall be conducted to ISO/TS 16949:2009.
●Organizations certified to ISO/TS 16949:2009 shall transition to the new IATF 16949, through a transition audit in line with the current audit cycle for ISO/TS 16949:2009.
●All certificates to ISO/TS 16949:2009 will no longer be valid after 14 September 2018.
●A transition audit shall only be conducted by qualified 3rd party auditors who have already demonstrated their competence to audit against IATF16949.
As with ISO/TS 16949, the new IAFT16949:2016 specifically lays out the certification eligibility:
●Only manufacturing sites where products, service parts, and/or accessory parts that shall be mechanically attached or electronically connected to the vehicle are manufactured and supplied to automotive customers are eligible for IATF 16949 certifications.
●Replacement parts that are not procured or released by the OEM for service part applications that may or may not be produced to original equipment specifications are defined as “Aftermarket parts”. Sites manufacturing only aftermarket parts are not eligible for IATF certification.
The Dragon Boat Festival, or Duanwu Festival, is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the traditional Chinese calendar. The festival is to commemorate the death of QU Yuan, an upright and honest poet who died in 278 BC. It is one of the most important traditional holidays in China, and people usually take several days off around the holiday.
The official Dragon Boat Festival period for 2017 is from the 28th to the 30th of May, as the holiday falls on the 30th of May this year. Factory visits are not recommended during this period.
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 email@example.com. Click here to subscribe.
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