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IATF 16949 online audits

As we are getting close to the end of 2020, we continue seeing how a wide array of industries are being adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic. The automotive industry was not immune to the disruptions caused by the virus and automotive certification schemes has been challenged by this global context.

Monitoring the impact of the coronavirus on the certification schemes and prioritizing the safety and well-being of auditors, office personnel and customers involved in this process, IATF has released the IATF GLOBAL WAIVERS AND MEASURES IN RESPONSE TO THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC (COVID-19). The 5th revision from 30.10.2020 has allowed the online audits using ITC methodologies where due to reasons directly connected to Covid 19 pandemic the onsite audit cannot be performed.

All IATF certificate expiration date has been extended by 6 months in IATF Database but starting from 1st January 2021 the audits have to be performed onsite or remotely for manufacturing sites and for remote locations. Remote audits are allowed for initial audit, surveillance audit, recertification audit, transfer audit and special audits.

A remote audit is performed as an onsite audit but using video conferencing tools to obtain remotely the necessary audit evidence and evaluate conformity to audit criteria as IATF 16949 standard and applicable Customer Specific Requirements. The remote audit day calculation it is equivalent to an onsite audit according IATF Rules with a maximum of 10% from audit time but no more that 8 hours that can be allocated to perform additional audit planning steps needed for a remote audit.

The certification bodies and the audited organizations need to perform the necessary risk analysis and to define action plans that will enable communication and data sharing during the audit in safe conditions. The challenges as data security, data confidentiality, wifi/mobile data coverage, noisy manufacturing areas, different time zones, type of communication technology that needs to be used, contingency plans in case of technology failing and back up equipment for customer and for auditor will be defined before the audit. The auditor will organize with the auditors a technology test session prior to the audit for all technologies type that will be used during the audit and in all areas where the audit will be performed as meeting rooms, shop floor, warehouses, technical rooms and offices.

The online audit is challenging for auditors and auditees. The context is different and the face to face contact that facilitated the communication during an onsite audit is not possible anymore for the remote audit. The auditor will conduct the audit using methods and approaches to replicate an onsite audit as much as possible; body language will be capture using video cameras, the planning of audited areas needs to be thoroughly discussed so relevant activities will be sampled and regular short breakings will have to be organized to avoid screen fatigue.

Certification Bodies, Auditors and auditees are adapting rapidly to the new context and new certification rules for the automotive industry. The change of market dynamic and implicitly customer expectations, the lack of predictability of forecast, global competition and cost pressure requires continuous improvement of product and processes, including the certification audits. High innovative capacity and global orientation are success values for automotive certification scheme in actual context when certified companies are manufacturing automotive components sourced globally. The performance and qualification of all partners in the IATF certification scheme contribute essentially to automotive business success and continuity in this new global context.

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