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Who is the IATF 16949 auditor?

IATF 16949 auditor - learn how to become one! Get to know the qualification and experience requirements for IATF 16949 auditor candidates.

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Anna B.

The role of the IATF 16949 auditor

Nowadays, industrial and production development have become an integral part of everyone’s life. Ensuring the quality and safety of new products appearing on the market is the cornerstone of any manufacturing company’s operations. Hence, the role of the IATF 16949 auditor is increasingly important.

An IATF 16949 auditor is a qualified professional whose primary task is to audit compliance with the requirements of IATF 16949, mainly in the automotive industry. It is worth noting that IATF 16949 is one of the most demanding standards that defines quality standards for automotive suppliers.

Auditor’s educational requirements and experience

A person performing the role of an IATF 16949 auditor must meet the relevant educational requirements. First, he or she must be qualified according to ISO/IEC 17021, which describes the principles and requirements for competence, consistency and impartiality of bodies conducting audits and certification of all types of management systems, and must be authorized by the relevant accreditation body to conduct ISO 9001 audits.

The second requirement is to have performed at least 6 audits as an ISO 9001 system certification auditor in manufacturing companies, including at least 3 as the lead auditor. It is worth noting that experience from internal system audits or supplier audits in automotive manufacturing companies will also be considered in the auditor’s experience.

Another requirement is to have knowledge of quality methods used in the automotive industry in particular.
In addition, the IATF auditor should have at least four years of practical experience – preferably in the management or quality assurance department of an industrial company (preferably in the automotive industry, but this is not a necessary condition) that meets the criteria in the IATF 16949 standard. This experience should have been gained within the last 15 years of working for the organization.

The last formal requirement is to participate as an observer in at least 1 full IATF 16949 third-party audit. This audit should be preceded by an evaluation process and should last no less than 2 days.

It is worth noting that formal skills are not everything. A good auditor should have highly developed interpersonal skills, including communicating information in a way that is clear and understandable to others, being able to solve problems and mitigate conflict situations, as well as easily establish relationships with people. In addition, critical thinking skills and the ability to quickly assess the current situation are also very important in an auditor’s work.

The ethical aspect and independence of the auditor must not be forgotten. One of the basic principles that the auditor must remember is to maintain impartiality and objectivity. In the context of ethics, it is particularly important to maintain confidentiality and responsibility in the processing of client data.

IATF 16949 audit beginning - the auditor is shaking hands with the client

IATF 16949 auditor qualification process

If the above-mentioned requirements are met, the auditor candidate can proceed to the qualification process. During this process, the auditor should demonstrate technical skills and pass the exam. After passing the exam, the auditor receives an individual IATF auditor number, which formally allows him to perform audits for the certification body.

You’re probably wondering if that’s all there is to it. The work of an IATF 16949 auditor requires a lot of commitment, good work organization and self-discipline. An auditor permitted to audit for a certification body must take care of deadlines for submitting audit reports, certification decision, results of IATF surveillance audits. He or she must also conduct individual nonconformance analysis and provide feedback from principals and their customers.

An IATF auditor must also take care of his professional activity (conduct a minimum number of audits) and devote his time to continuous professional development.

If the auditor does not perform satisfactorily, then the certification body may recommend the implementation of appropriate measures to improve professional performance. Also, if, any fraudulent behavior of the auditor is detected, the body may suspend or even completely withdraw the IATF 16949 auditor’s privileges. In the case of suspension, the auditor may not perform any audit assignments, while in the case of withdrawal of privileges, the auditor is given inactive status, both in the relevant supervisory body and in the certification body.

So who is the IATF 16949 auditor?

In summary, an IATF 16949 auditor is a person with the appropriate education, experience and accreditation. He or she is also a person with excellent knowledge of the best requirements of standards in the automotive industry. It is worth noting that the key skills are auditing competence, communication skills, as well as impartiality and acting in accordance with ethical principles. An IATF 16949 auditor is a professional whose knowledge and judgment affect the quality and safety of the products we use every day.

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