IATF 16949:2016 Clause 8.6.3 Appearance items

In the automotive industry, appearance items refer to components, features, or accessories that enhance the visual aesthetics or appearance of a vehicle. These items are not directly related to the functionality or performance of the vehicle but are designed to improve its overall look, appeal, and personalization. Exterior Accessories includes items like chrome trim, body kits, spoilers, decorative decals, custom paint jobs, special alloy wheels, and unique grille designs. They are intended to modify the exterior appearance and make the vehicle stand out from others. Interior Accessories includes seat covers, floor mats, steering wheel covers, decorative trims, and dashboard accessories which focus on enhancing the vehicle’s interior appearance and comfort. Lighting Enhancements such as LED headlights, taillights, and interior ambient lighting can significantly improve the vehicle’s appearance during the day and night. Automakers often provide various customization options for buyers to personalize their vehicles, such as choosing specific paint colors, interior upholstery materials, and trim finishes. While they may not directly affect the vehicle’s performance, they play a crucial role in expressing the owner’s style and taste. Additionally, appearance items can also be an important aspect of marketing and branding for automakers, as they create unique visual identities for their vehicles.

Clause 8.6.3 Appearance items

For organizations manufacturing parts designated by the customer as “appearance items,” the organization must provide appropriate resources, including lighting, for evaluation. It must provide masters for colour, grain, gloss, metallic brilliance, texture, distinctness of image (DOI), and haptic technology, as appropriate. The organization must ensure the maintenance and control of appearance masters and evaluation equipment. The verification process must ensure that personnel making appearance evaluations are competent and qualified to do so.

The standard requires suppliers to provide appropriate lighting, product masters, maintenance control, and qualified personnel should they be manufacturing parts designated by the customer as “appearance items”. Appearance items are those with surface finish characteristics that are visible to the end user. These items will be designated by your customer so you don’t need to guess which items they are. Appearance is a subjective characteristic so means need to be provided to reduce the subjectivity and make judgement more objective. Samples indicating the acceptable range of color, gloss, metallic brilliance, grain and texture, and distinctness of image may be needed and, if not provided by your customer, those that you provide will need customer approval. It is also important when selecting personnel for making appearance decisions to ensure that they have the requisite physical attributes. Eye sight and color blindness tests should
be conducted when appropriate. Lighting conditions should be appropriate for the evaluations performed, avoiding shadows, glare, and other adverse factors. The tests need to be conducted periodically as a safeguard against deterioration in the relevant physical attributes. Clarify (using your APQP process) up-front during contract negotiations or during design and development whether the product is designated as an ‘appearance item’. Resources for controlling appearance items may include – special equipment and supplies; lighting; environmentally controlled space or laboratory; competent and trained personnel; appearance standards or masters (provided by the customer; industry or developed by your own organization); use of special testing and measurement devices and their calibration; etc. Your process for ‘appearance items’ must define and control all of these variables as applicable. In the event of an ‘appearance item’ product nonconformity, clarify with your customer, the rules for repair and rework.

Appropriate Resources

For organizations manufacturing parts designated by the customer as “appearance items,” providing appropriate resources for evaluation is essential to ensure that the parts meet the customer’s expectations for visual aesthetics and quality. Proper lighting is crucial for accurate visual inspection of appearance items. Sufficient lighting helps in identifying surface imperfections, color discrepancies, and other visual details that might impact the part’s appearance. Set up dedicated inspection booths or rooms with controlled lighting conditions to allow for consistent evaluations. These booths should be free from contaminants that could affect the appearance of the parts during inspection. If the appearance items involve specific colors or finishes, provide color-matching resources such as color swatches, color spectrophotometers, or digital color matching tools. This ensures that the colors of the parts align with the customer’s requirements. When possible, provide sample parts or prototypes to the customer for initial evaluation and approval before proceeding with full-scale production. This allows the customer to verify that the appearance items meet their desired standards. Develop inspection checklists or quality control guidelines that include visual criteria for evaluating appearance items. This helps ensure consistent evaluation and reduces the likelihood of overlooking important visual details. Train and assign qualified inspectors who have an eye for detail and are experienced in evaluating appearance items. Their expertise is critical in identifying and addressing any issues related to visual aesthetics. Maintain detailed documentation of the evaluation process, including inspection results, customer feedback, and any corrective actions taken to address appearance-related concerns. Actively seek feedback from customers regarding the appearance items and their evaluation process. Collaborate with customers to understand their specific preferences and requirements better. Continuously improve the evaluation process based on customer feedback and internal assessments. Regularly update the resources and techniques used for evaluating appearance items to enhance accuracy and efficiency. By providing appropriate resources, organizations can ensure that appearance items are thoroughly evaluated, meet customer expectations, and maintain consistent quality standards. This attention to visual aesthetics helps enhance customer satisfaction and strengthens the organization’s reputation in the automotive industry.

Masters or Reference Samples

When manufacturing parts designated as “appearance items,” especially those that have specific visual characteristics, it is essential for the organization to provide masters or reference samples for various attributes to ensure consistency and meet customer expectations. Here are some key attributes for which masters or reference samples may be required:

  1. Color: Providing color masters is crucial when manufacturing appearance items with specific color requirements. These color masters serve as a reference to ensure that the parts’ colors are consistent and accurately match the customer’s desired shade.
  2. Grain and Texture: For appearance items that have a textured or grainy surface, supplying grain and texture masters helps in maintaining the desired pattern and feel. This is especially important for interior trims, upholstery, and other tactile components.
  3. Gloss Level: Different appearance items may require specific gloss levels (e.g., high gloss, semi-gloss, matte). Masters for gloss levels help maintain uniformity and achieve the desired sheen for the parts.
  4. Metallic Brilliance: In cases where appearance items have metallic finishes, providing metallic brilliance masters assists in achieving the correct level of shimmer or sparkle consistently.
  5. Distinctness of Image (DOI): DOI is a measure of clarity and sharpness in a reflective surface, such as automotive paint. For appearance items like body panels, providing DOI masters ensures that the reflections on the surfaces meet the required quality standards.
  6. Haptic Technology: Haptic technology relates to the tactile feedback or sensations that a surface provides when touched. If appearance items incorporate haptic elements, providing haptic masters ensures that the desired tactile experience is maintained.

Having these masters or reference samples is crucial because they act as benchmarks for quality control during the manufacturing process. They enable consistent replication of visual and tactile attributes across different production batches. Additionally, masters help in communicating the precise requirements to suppliers, contractors, or manufacturers involved in producing appearance items.Furthermore, these masters can be used during quality inspections to verify that the parts meet the desired specifications. They also aid in resolving any discrepancies between the final product and the customer’s expectations.By providing masters for color, grain, gloss, metallic brilliance, texture, DOI, and haptic technology as appropriate, organizations can maintain a high level of quality and meet customer demands for appearance items in the automotive industry.

Maintenance and control of appearance masters and evaluation equipment

Providing maintenance and control of appearance masters and evaluation equipment is crucial for organizations manufacturing parts designated as “appearance items.” This practice ensures the accuracy, consistency, and reliability of the evaluation process, leading to the production of high-quality appearance items that meet customer expectations. Here are some key points to consider for maintenance and control:

  1. Regular Inspection and Calibration: Schedule regular inspections and calibrations of appearance masters and evaluation equipment to ensure they are functioning correctly and providing accurate reference values. Regular maintenance helps prevent deviations in color, gloss, texture, and other visual attributes.
  2. Secure Storage: Store appearance masters in a controlled environment to protect them from potential damage or contamination. Proper storage conditions, such as temperature and humidity control, are essential to maintain the masters’ integrity.
  3. Documented Handling Procedures: Develop documented procedures for handling appearance masters and evaluation equipment. This includes guidelines for usage, cleaning, storage, and transport to minimize the risk of mishandling or misuse.
  4. Traceability: Establish a traceability system to track the history of appearance masters and equipment. This includes recording calibration dates, inspection results, maintenance activities, and any adjustments made to the equipment.
  5. Backup and Redundancy: Have a backup plan in place for appearance masters, and consider having redundant evaluation equipment to ensure continuity of the evaluation process in case of equipment failure.
  6. Competent Personnel: Ensure that qualified and trained personnel are responsible for maintaining and controlling appearance masters and evaluation equipment. They should be familiar with proper handling procedures and maintenance protocols.
  7. Inspection Records: Keep detailed records of appearance evaluations conducted with reference to the appearance masters. These records help in identifying trends, monitoring performance, and providing evidence of adherence to quality standards.
  8. Periodic Re-evaluation: Periodically re-evaluate appearance masters to verify their continued accuracy and relevance. Over time, factors like wear and tear or color fading may necessitate adjustments or replacements.
  9. Up-to-date Technology: Invest in modern evaluation equipment and technology to stay current with industry standards and advancements. Newer equipment may offer improved accuracy and efficiency in appearance evaluations.
  10. Compliance with Standards: Ensure that the maintenance and control processes align with relevant industry standards, such as ISO quality management standards or automotive-specific guidelines.

By implementing proper maintenance and control of appearance masters and evaluation equipment, organizations can uphold consistent quality in their appearance items, maintain customer satisfaction, and demonstrate their commitment to meeting the highest visual standards in the automotive industry.

Competency and qualification of personal

Verifying the competence and qualifications of personnel responsible for making appearance evaluations is a critical aspect of ensuring the quality and consistency of appearance items in the automotive industry. This step is essential to uphold the organization’s commitment to meeting customer expectations and maintaining high standards for visual aesthetics. Here are some key points to consider for verifying personnel competence:

  1. Training and Certification: Provide comprehensive training to personnel involved in appearance evaluations. The training should cover aspects like visual inspection techniques, identifying defects, understanding quality standards, and using evaluation tools effectively. Consider offering certification programs to validate their expertise.
  2. Experience and Expertise: Prioritize personnel with relevant experience in the automotive industry, especially in evaluating appearance-related features. Experienced personnel are more likely to have an eye for detail and a deeper understanding of appearance standards.
  3. Sample Evaluations: Conduct sample evaluations during the training process to assess personnel skills and abilities. This can help identify areas for improvement and ensure that they are capable of consistently evaluating appearance items.
  4. Regular Assessments: Implement periodic assessments or evaluations to gauge the ongoing competence of personnel. This can involve both theoretical and practical evaluations to ensure they stay up-to-date with industry requirements.
  5. Calibration and Inter-rater Reliability: Establish procedures to calibrate evaluators’ assessments and achieve inter-rater reliability. This ensures that different evaluators produce consistent results when evaluating the same appearance item.
  6. Documentation: Maintain records of personnel qualifications, training, certifications, and evaluation results. This documentation is vital for demonstrating compliance with quality standards during audits or customer inquiries.
  7. Continuous Improvement: Encourage personnel to participate in continuous learning and improvement initiatives. Staying updated with industry best practices and new technologies can enhance their ability to make accurate appearance evaluations.
  8. Cross-functional Collaboration: Foster collaboration between personnel involved in appearance evaluations and other departments, such as design, engineering, and quality control. This can help share insights and align expectations throughout the manufacturing process.
  9. Customer Feedback: Encourage feedback from customers regarding the appearance evaluations conducted by personnel. Customer input can provide valuable insights into the effectiveness of the evaluation process and potential areas for improvement.

By verifying personnel competence and qualifications, organizations can instill confidence in their ability to deliver high-quality appearance items that meet customer requirements. Competent personnel play a crucial role in maintaining consistency, achieving customer satisfaction, and upholding the organization’s reputation in the automotive industry.

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