Writing: Maelise Robert, EURO-SYMBIOSE’s communications officer, Laurent Guihaire EURO-SYMBIOSE’s Senior Consultant, Blue Solutions.  

 

 

On the strength of its position as leader in capacitor films, the BOLLORE Group has made electricity storage a major area of development. They have developed a unique and innovative technology, the Lithium Metal Polymer (LMP®) battery produced by its BLUE SOLUTIONS affiliate, the only « all-solid » battery sold in the world. This battery is co-designed and co-manufactured by their Canadian plant and their French plant based in Brittany.

In order to meet the expectations of one of the world’s largest manufacturers of public transport vehicles, which wishes to equip its buses with LMP® batteries, EURO-SYMBIOSE is helping the French BLUE SOLUTIONS plant, already ISO 9001 certified, to pass IATF 16949:2016 certification.

IATF 16949 : 2016 is the international standard for quality management systems in the automotive industry, aligning itself with the structure and requirements of the ISO 9001 : 2015 standard. It defines the fundamental requirements for the development and manufacture of automotive components.

Our Senior Consultant, Laurent Guihaire, is in charge of supporting the French teams of BLUE SOLUTIONS. After two years of collaboration, the Quimper BLUE SOLUTIONS site achieved a first success by obtaining its « certificate of compliance with IATF requirements ». The certification audit is scheduled for next May.

 

Why did BLUE SOLUTIONS contact EURO-SYMBIOSE ?

 

The Canadian factory was already IATF 16949 certified. As the product was co-designed and co-manufactured, the Brittany factory had to respond quickly to the constraints of the Canadian audit, as a « remote location ». At the same time, the Brittany factory had the ambition to be audited within two years following the commercial agreement signed with its client DAIMLER.

Our collaboration started in 2018 with a training course to find out the requirements of the IATF 16949:2016 standard. This training highlighted the work to be carried out to deploy the IATF requirements and the CSR (Customer Specific Requirements). Therefore the Quality Managers therefore decided to call on EURO-SYMBIOSE’s expertise to go further. 

This certification process, driven by the Top Management, was an opportunity to improve the existing system, to set up new procedures ensuring continuous improvement and enhancing the value of the employees’ initiatives.

 

IATF 16949 requirements

 

The IATF standard is based on the processes of monitoring, validation and securing of the production method. It requires an operating and project management mode. Some examples of requirements below :

  • Before the start of production, automotive suppliers must prove that their products and production processes meet internal quality requirements and those of their customers ; they must present « initial samples » manufactured from installed and qualified manufacturing processes (PPAP method).
  • The supplier must demonstrate the reliability of its production system that will ensure good reproducibility of the initial products. This is referred to as the « capabilities of manufacturing & control processes ».
  • The whole Supply Chain must be under control, which obliges the supplier to put under control its own suppliers (so-called « tier 2 » suppliers) with IATF and CSR requirements too.

 

EURO-SYMBIOSE’s support

 

Our Senior Consultant Laurent Guihaire has built a step-by-step and tailor-made program :

  • Analysis of the existing situation and new items to be taken into account : in order to emphasize the measures already in place and meeting the requirements, to improve some of them and finally to create new ones only if it is necessary !
  • Organization of meetings with each « Process Owner » and then setting up process-by-process working groups followed by internal sessions : to work on very targeted points, necessary for the smooth running of the company but also required by the IATF or CSR guidelines.
  • Training of internal auditors : to introduce the audit culture, and very quickly verify the good implementation of the modified or new provisions.
  • Training of « 2nd part » auditors for Tier 2 suppliers (purchasing and supplier quality departments) : to set up a systematic monitoring system for key suppliers and service providers.
  • Training of Process Owners and Process Drivers : to legitimize the systematic and useful use of processes.
  • Carrying out a blank audit by another EURO-SYMBIOSE consultant :  to check, before the certification audit, that the whole System is well installed, practiced and more importantly to give confidence to BLUE SOLUTIONS collaborators in their ability to demonstrate the correct operation and efficiency of the System.

« My objective is that the company implement an appropriate and reliable systems over the long term. The theoretical requirements have to be transposed to the industrial environment and standard practices have to be appropriated. » explains Laurent Guihaire.

« The approach proposed by EURO-SYMBIOSE asked us to review our past system based on ISO 9001 to bring it up to the level of IATF requirements. This has enabled us to work on our weak points and to make very concrete improvements in the context of our selection, evaluation and audit of suppliers. To do this, we used a « supplier » risk analysis. EURO-SYMBIOSE’s support was very much appreciated, both on an operational and normative level. » testifies Guillaume JEGOUSSE, Purchasing Manager.

 

Implemented actions and results

 

The company has worked on the following points in particular :

  • Formalization of the link with external functions (commercial entity and Canadian design team)
  • Implementation of project risk analyses
  • Categorizing purchases, deploying a supplier risk analysis and adapting supplier monitoring according to risks
  • Deployment of the monitoring plan by integrating the notion of a « response plan » in the event of hazards
  • Complete review of each process (scope, content, formalization) and their associated indicators

 

This tailor-made support enabled to :

  • Frame the approach thanks to an external referent who is both a point of reference and a coach.
  • Encourage collaborative work and challenge teams
  • Formalize existing processes
  • Develop internal practices
  • Rise in power in a structured and robust way

 

The success of this mission is partly based on the dynamic instilled by the Top Management and the managers who immediately became very active in the project and the internal management of actions, meetings and formalization work by 2 collaborators in charge of this certification project.

« The IATF approach requires to anticipate customer satisfaction as early as possible through APQP project management and CSR analysis; it forces us to document our decisions through multidisciplinary risk analysis. We have had to go further in the search for root causes and measuring the effectiveness of actions to ensure continuous improvement at all levels.  EURO-SYMBIOSE built on our existing strengths to complement the system on specific IATF requirements with concrete and simple examples. Our coaches have all the experience to effectively meet the requirements of the standard. The help provided before and after the audit was very much appreciated. We are satisfied. » says Jean-Luc GIRAULT and Laëtitia ALLEBEE, the pair responsible for the certification project.

Thanks to the success of this personalized support, the BOLLORE Group plans to transpose its new operating methods to other of its activities.

 

Where does the Company stand with its IATF approach ?

 

Series production was able to start in May 2020 despite a Covid context that delayed certain deadlines.

« Following the audit in September 2020, BLUE SOLUTIONS had to deal with a few variances. I accompanied them in adjusting and implementing the necessary corrective measures before the second (remote) assessment, which resulted in a « certificate of compliance with IATF requirements » being obtained. According to IATF rules, the company will have to produce for 12 months before applying for certification, which is planned for May 2021. » explains Laurent Guihaire

Have you got any certification project ? Save time by collaborating with EURO-SYMBIOSE’s IATF experts :

Preparation for a certification audit should be done as soon as possible.

For more than 10 years, EURO-SYMBIOSE has been a partner of IATF France as Master Trainer for the training and assessment of IATF 16949 : 2016 third party auditors.

If you are a manufacturer or equipment manufacturer from Rank 1 to Rank N and you are aiming for an IATF certification, our Senior Consultants will be able to advise you thanks to their experience on the elements on which you will be audited as well as on the implementation of your Quality Management System. By choosing to work with EURO-SYMBIOSE, you will benefit from an external view combining theoretical knowledge and field experience.

For more information, contact us at +33 251 131 300 or by email: service.clients@euro-symbiose.fr

Auteur : EURO-SYMBIOSE

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