IATF 16949:2016 Clause Product design input

The standard requires that design input requirements relating to the product be identified and documented. Design input requirements may in fact be detailed in the contract. The customer may have drawn up a specification detailing the features and characteristics product or service needs to exhibit. Alternatively, the customer needs may be stated in very basic terms; for example:

  • For the fenders I require a decorative finish that is of the same appearance as the bodywork.
  • For interior seating I require a durable fabric that will retain its appearance for the life of the vehicle and is not electrostatic.
  • I require an electronic door locking system with remote control and manual override that is impervious to unauthorized personnel.

From these simple statements of need you need to gather more information and turn the requirement into a definitive specification. Sometimes you can satisfy your customer with an existing product or service, but when this is not possible you need to resort to designing one to meet the customer’s particular needs, whether the customer be a specific customer or the market in general. You should note that these requirements do not require that design input requirements be stated in terms which, if satisfied, will render the product or service fit for purpose -nor does it state when the design input should be documented. Design inputs should reflect the customer needs and be produced or available before any design commences. To identify design input requirements you need to identify:

  • The purpose of the product or service
  • The conditions (or environment) under which it will be used, stored, and transported o The skills and category of those who will use and maintain the product or service
  • The countries to which it will be sold and the related regulations governing sale and
  • use of products
  • The special features and characteristics which the customer requires the product or service to exhibit, including life, reliability, durability, and maintainability
  • The constraints in terms of time—scale, operating environment, cost, size, weight, or other factors
  • The standards with which the product or service needs to comply
  • The products or service with which it will directly and indirectly interface, and their features and characteristics
  • The documentation required of the design output necessary to manufacture, procure, inspect, test, install, operate, and maintain a product or service

You have a responsibility to establish your customer requirements and expectations. If you do not determine conditions that may be detrimental to the product and you supply the product as meeting the customer needs and it subsequently fails, the failure is your liability. If the customer did not provide reasonable opportunity for you to establish the requirements, the failure may be the customer’s liability. If you think you may need some extra information in order to design a product that meets the customer needs, you must obtain it or declare your assumptions. A nil response is often taken as acceptance in full. In addition to customer requirements there may be industry practices, national standards, company standards, and other sources of input to the design input requirements to be taken into account. You should provide design guides or codes of practice that will assist designers in identifying the design input requirements that are typical of your business. The design output has to reflect a product which is producible or a service which is deliverable. The design input requirements may have been specified by the customer and hence not have taken into account your production capability. The product of the design may therefore need to be producible within your current production capability using your existing technologies, tooling, production processes, material handling equipment,etc. There is no requirement in the standard for designs to be economically producible and therefore unless such requirements are contained in the design input requirements, producibility will not be verified before product is released into production .Having identified the design input requirements, you need to document them in a specification that, when approved, is brought under document control. The requirements should not contain any solutions at this stage, so as to provide freedom and flexibility to the designers. If the design is to be subcontracted, it makes for fair competition and removes from you the responsibility for the solution. Where specifications contain solutions, the supplier is being given no choice and if there are delays and problems the supplier may have a legitimate claim against you.

Clause Product design input

The organization shall identify, document, and review product design input requirements as a result of contract review. Product design input requirements include product specifications including special characteristics; boundary and interface requirements; identification, traceability, and packaging; consideration of design alternatives; assessment of risks with the input requirements and the organization’s ability to mitigate/manage the risks, including from the feasibility analysis; targets for conformity to product requirements including preservation, reliability, durability, serviceability, health, safety, environmental, development timing, and cost; applicable statutory and regulatory requirements of the customer-identified country of destination, if provided; embedded software requirements. The organization shall have a process to deploy information gained from previous design projects, competitive product analysis (bench marking), supplier feedback, internal input, field data, and other relevant sources for current and future projects of a similar nature.One approach for considering design alternatives is the use of trade-off curves

Use your customer specified APQP reference manual as a good tool for Design and Development planning and control. Product Design and Development is only applicable if you are designated as being design-responsible. Determine (in writing) from your OEM customer if you are designated as being design responsible. You must identify, document and review design inputs requirements for function, performance, safety, regulatory, quality, reliability, durability, life, timing, maintainability, cost, identification, traceability, packaging, special or safety characteristics (from the customer or regulatory body), and other requirements essential to the product. You must have a process to deploy (identify, document, review and use) design input information coming from various sources such as – customer contracts, drawings and specifications; your own organization’s database of previous Design and Development projects; competitor analysis; industry standards; feedback from suppliers; field data.You must review all input requirements for adequacy and completeness. You must ensure that requirements are complete, clear and consistent with each other. The product design input requirements cover various critical aspects of the design process in the automotive industry. These requirements ensure that the design team has a clear understanding of what the product needs to achieve and the considerations they must take into account during the design and development process. Let’s briefly discuss each of the product design input requirements:

  1. Product Specifications Including Special Characteristics: Product specifications define the detailed requirements and characteristics that the product must meet. Special characteristics refer to specific features or attributes critical to the product’s performance or safety.
  2. Boundary and Interface Requirements: Boundary and interface requirements define the interaction of the product with other systems, components, or external entities. This ensures proper integration and compatibility.
  3. Identification, Traceability, and Packaging: These requirements ensure that products are uniquely identified, traceable throughout the production and supply chain, and properly packaged for protection and handling.
  4. Consideration of Design Alternatives: The design team should explore and evaluate different design alternatives to select the most optimal and feasible solution.
  5. Assessment of Risks and Mitigation Strategies: A risk assessment identifies potential design-related risks and defines strategies to manage or mitigate these risks effectively.
  6. Targets for Conformity to Product Requirements: Set clear targets and objectives for product conformity with requirements, encompassing aspects such as preservation, reliability, durability, serviceability, safety, environmental impact, development timing, and cost.
  7. Applicable Statutory and Regulatory Requirements: Compliance with relevant laws, regulations, and standards is crucial, especially those specified by the customer’s country of destination.
  8. Embedded Software Requirements: In modern automotive products, embedded software plays a significant role. Defining software requirements ensures that it meets performance, safety, and regulatory criteria.

These product design input requirements serve as a foundation for the design team to create products that meet customer expectations, comply with regulations, and are innovative, reliable, and safe. They help guide the entire design and development process, leading to successful and competitive automotive products in the market.

Impact of the results of contract reviews on design input
The standard requires that design input take into consideration the results of any contract review activities. In cases where the contract includes a design requirement, then in establishing the adequacy of such requirements during contract review, these requirements may be changed or any conflicting or ambiguous requirements resolved. The results of these negotiations should be reflected in a revision of the contractual documentation, but the customer may be unwilling or unable to amend the documents. In such cases the contract review records become in effect a supplement to the contract. These records should therefore be passed to the designers so they can be taken into account when preparing the design requirement specification or design brief.

Identifying and documenting statutory and regulatory requirements
The standard requires that the design input requirements include applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. Statutory and regulatory requirements are those which apply in the country to which the product or service is to be supplied. While some customers have the foresight to specify these, they often don’t. Just because such requirements are not specified in the contract doesn’t mean you don’t need to meet them. Statutory requirements may apply to the prohibition of items from certain countries, power supply ratings, security provisions, markings, and certain notices. Regulatory requirements may apply to health, safety, environmental emissions, and electromagnetic compatibility and these often require accompanying certification of compliance. In cases where customers require suppliers to be certified to IATF 16949 it imposes a regulatory requirement on the design process. If you intend exporting the product or service, it would be prudent to determine the regulations that would apply before you complete the design requirement. Failure to meet some of these requirements can result in no export license being granted as a minimum and imprisonment in certain cases if found to be subsequently non compliant. Having established what the applicable statutes and regulations are, you need to plan for meeting them and for verifying that they have been met. The plan should be integrated with the design and development plan or a separate plan should be created. Verification of compliance can be treated in the same way, although if the tests, inspections, and analyses are integrated with other tests etc., it may be more difficult to demonstrate compliance through the records alone. In some cases tests such as pollution tests, safety tests, proof loading tests, electromagnetic compatibility tests, pressure vessel tests, etc. are so significant that separate tests and test specifications are the most effective method.

Reviewing the selection of design input requirements
The selection of design input requirements be reviewed for adequacy. Adequacy in this context means that the design requirements are a true reflection of the customer needs. It is prudent to obtain customer agreement to the design requirements before you commence the design. In this way you will establish whether you have correctly understood and translated customer needs. It is advisable also to hold an internal design review at this stage so that you may benefit from the experience of other staff in the organization. Any meetings, reviews, or other means of determining the adequacy of the requirements should be recorded so as to provide evidence later if there are disputes. Records may also be needed.

Resolving incomplete, ambiguous, or conflicting requirements
The standard requires that incomplete, ambiguous, or conflicting requirements be resolved with those responsible for drawing up these requirements. The review of the design requirements needs to be a systematic review, not a superficial glance. Design work will commence on the basis of what is written in the requirements or the brief, although you should ensure there is a mechanism in place to change the document should it become necessary later. In fact such a mechanism should be agreed at the same time as agreement to the requirement is reached. In order to detect incomplete requirements you either need experts on tap or checklists to refer to. It is often easy to comment on what has been included but difficult to imagine what has been excluded. Ambiguities arise where statements imply one thing but the context implies another. You may also find cross-references to be ambiguous or in conflict. To detect the ambiguities and conflicts you need to read statements and examine diagrams very carefully. Items shown on one diagram may be shown differently in another. There are many other aspects you need to check before being satisfied they are fit for use. Any inconsistencies you find should be documented and conveyed to the appropriate person with a request for action. Any changes to correct the errors should be self-evident so that you do not need to review the complete document again.

Deploying information from previous designs
The standard requires the supplier to have a process to deploy information gained from previous design projects, competitor analysis, or other sources as appropriate for current and future projects of a similar nature. The intent of this requirement is to ensure you don ’t repeat the mistakes of the past and do repeat the past successes. The implication of this requirement is that previous design project deploys the information, whereas it cannot do so without a crystal ball that looks into the future. All you can do is to capture such data in a database or library that is accessible to future designers. A rather old way of doing this was for companies to create design manuals containing data sheets, fact sheets, and general information sheets on design topics — a sort of design guide that captured experience. Companies should still be doing this but many will by now have converted to electronic storage medium with the added advantage of the search engine. Information will also be available from trade associations, libraries, and learned societies. In your model of the design process you need to install a research process that is initiated prior to commencing design of a system, subsystem, equipment, or component. The research process needs to commence with an inquiry such as “Have we done this or used this before? Has anyone done this or used this before?” The questions should initiate a search for information but to make this a structured approach, the database or libraries need to structure the information in a way that enables effective retrieval of information. One advantage of submitting the design to a review by those not involved in the design is that they bring their experience to the review and identify approaches that did not work in the past, or put forward more effective ways of doing such things in the future.

Product design input for competitive product analysis (benchmarking)

Product design input for competitive product analysis, also known as benchmarking, involves gathering relevant data and information about competing products to evaluate and compare their features, performance, and design elements. This analysis is essential for identifying strengths and weaknesses in the organization’s own products and driving continuous improvement. Here are some key product design inputs for conducting a competitive product analysis:

  1. Product Specifications: Collect detailed specifications of competing products, including dimensions, weight, materials used, and key performance indicators. This provides a baseline for comparison with the organization’s own products.
  2. Functional Analysis: Analyze the functionalities and capabilities of competing products. Identify any unique features or innovative solutions that set them apart from others in the market.
  3. Design Documentation: Obtain design documentation, such as CAD models, technical drawings, and assembly instructions, to understand the design concepts and construction of competing products.
  4. Performance Data: Gather performance data of competitive products, including test results, efficiency ratings, and reliability metrics. Compare this data with the organization’s performance benchmarks.
  5. User Experience and Ergonomics: Assess the user experience and ergonomics of competing products, focusing on ease of use, comfort, and overall customer satisfaction.
  6. Safety and Compliance: Investigate the safety features and compliance with relevant regulations and standards in competing products. Identify any safety improvements or advantages that can be adopted.
  7. Cost Analysis: Conduct a cost analysis to estimate the manufacturing and production costs of competing products. Compare these costs with the organization’s cost structure to identify potential cost-saving opportunities.
  8. Materials and Manufacturing Processes: Study the materials used and the manufacturing processes employed in competitive products. This can reveal innovative materials or production methods that may benefit the organization’s designs.
  9. Aesthetics and Branding: Evaluate the aesthetics and branding elements of competing products. Understand how these factors influence consumer perception and brand loyalty.
  10. Packaging and Presentation: Analyze the packaging and presentation of competing products to gain insights into effective marketing strategies and customer appeal.
  11. Customer Reviews and Feedback: Examine customer reviews, feedback, and ratings for competing products to understand user preferences and pain points.
  12. Innovation and Technology: Identify any cutting-edge technologies or novel design approaches used in competitive products. This can inspire ideas for innovation in the organization’s designs.
  13. Patents and Intellectual Property: Review patents and intellectual property related to competing products to ensure that the organization’s designs do not infringe on existing patents.
  14. Market Trends and Industry Insights: Stay updated with market trends, emerging technologies, and industry insights related to competing products and the automotive sector as a whole.
  15. SWOT Analysis: Conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) analysis to compare the organization’s products with the strengths and weaknesses of competing products.

By gathering these product design inputs, the organization can gain a comprehensive understanding of the competitive landscape and use the insights to drive continuous improvement in their own product designs. Benchmarking is an essential part of staying competitive in the automotive industry and delivering innovative and customer-centric products to the market.

Product design input for supplier feedback, internal input, field data

Product design input from supplier feedback, internal input, and field data is essential for developing successful automotive products that meet customer needs and quality standards. Here are the key product design inputs from each source:

  1. Supplier Feedback: Suppliers play a critical role in the automotive supply chain. Their feedback is invaluable in improving product design and ensuring the availability of quality components. The following inputs can be obtained from suppliers:
    • Component Performance Data: Feedback on the performance, durability, and reliability of supplied components can help in making design improvements.
    • Manufacturability Suggestions: Suppliers can provide insights into how product designs can be optimized for manufacturability and ease of assembly.
    • Material Recommendations: Suppliers can suggest alternative materials that offer better performance, cost-effectiveness, or environmental benefits.
    • Quality and Defect Data: Information about product defects, failure rates, and quality issues can guide design modifications to enhance product reliability.
    • Cost Reduction Ideas: Suppliers may offer cost-saving suggestions without compromising product quality or performance.
  2. Internal Input: Internal teams within the organization, such as engineering, manufacturing, quality, and marketing, provide valuable input for product design. The following inputs are typically gathered internally:
    • Design Reviews: Conducting regular design reviews involving cross-functional teams to gather feedback and identify areas for improvement.
    • Lessons Learned: Analyzing past projects and feedback to incorporate lessons learned into the current product design.
    • Manufacturability and Assembly Input: Input from the manufacturing and assembly teams to ensure designs are feasible for production and assembly.
    • Performance Data: Internal testing and validation data to assess how well the product meets design requirements and industry standards.
    • Market Research Findings: Inputs from marketing and sales teams on customer preferences and market trends that can influence product design decisions.
  3. Field Data: Field data refers to information collected from products that are already in use by customers. This data provides valuable insights into real-world performance and customer satisfaction. The following inputs are collected from field data:
    • Customer Feedback: Gather feedback from customers regarding product performance, reliability, and user experience.
    • Warranty and Service Data: Analyze warranty claims and service data to identify recurring issues and areas for design improvement.
    • Failure Analysis: Conduct failure analysis on returned products to understand failure modes and root causes for design enhancement.
    • Product Reliability Data: Track product reliability metrics, such as mean time between failures (MTBF), to assess product performance in the field.
    • End-of-Life Data: Analyze data from end-of-life products to improve future designs and extend product lifecycle.

By integrating inputs from supplier feedback, internal input, and field data, automotive companies can refine their product designs, address potential issues proactively, and deliver products that exceed customer expectations in terms of quality, reliability, and performance. These inputs contribute to continuous improvement and drive innovation in the automotive industry.

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