Mar 01, 2018 Read time: approx. MinutesMinute
Dr. Thorsten Schneppensieper is a quality manager at WACKER. Here, he discusses the IATF 16949 standard and its significance for the production of silicone thermal interface materials.
WWW: WACKER is known to its customers for the consistently high quality of its products. Does the automotive sector need special treatment?
Dr. Thorsten Schneppensieper: The automotive industry has exceptionally high requirements that relate to the sector’s typical supply chain. Suppliers are responsible for at least three-quarters of the entire value creation inherent in the production of a vehicle. Carmakers process the supplied parts and materials using fast and highly-automated manufacturing processes. High costs would result if faulty components or materials cause their assembly lines to stand still. Automotive manufacturers expect a zero-error strategy from their suppliers so that value creation functions. The IATF 16949 standard, issued by the International Automotive Task Force, is intended to ensure freedom from faults along the entire supply chain. A supplier not certified to this standard has almost no chance of working directly with the car industry.
What are the main specifications in IATF 16949?
Dr. Schneppensieper: Error avoidance, risk management and reliability are the core of IATF 16949. The notion of error avoidance is particularly important: instead of reacting to malfunctions and correcting errors, such errors should not even arise. This minimizes the failure risk for automotive manufacturers and the liability risk for suppliers. The standard not only states what needs to be done, but also specifies how this should be done, i.e. what quality-assurance measures need to be undertaken in particular. It also entails meeting every single customer-specific requirement in full.
How would WACKER benefit from meeting these criteria and obtaining IATF 16949 certification?
Dr. Schneppensieper: We would be able to create robust, i.e. failure-proof, transparent and traceable processes, have our liability risk under firm control, stabilize our existing business and open up new markets in the world of automotive manufacturing. In many regards, we have already been working along these lines for a long time. But now that the era of electromobility is dawning in the automotive industry, the right time has come to actively seek certification. We have decided to certify that section of production which also includes thermal interface materials because we see great market potential for our gap fillers in electric vehicles.
What progress have we made in obtaining certification?
Dr. Schneppensieper: The first steps have been taken. We have already installed the first system improvements for error avoidance in the production of thermal interface materials. The idea is to make it practically impossible for anyone operating the production equipment to do something wrong. Our goal: we want to achieve certification within two years.