When interviewing an in-mold labeling (IML) company for the first time, there are questions that are helpful to ask right at the beginning.
How long have you been manufacturing IML parts?
What are your typical production timelines?
Do you have customer reviews to share?
And if you’re in the auto industry in particular, you’ll want to ask: “What are your certifications? And are you ISO 9001 and ISO/TS 16949 rated?”
Bonus reading: What to Ask Your In Mold Labeling Manufacturer
In the manufacturing and production worlds, there are standards that aim to increase customer satisfaction, identify problems in production, and eliminate their causes. With a goal of standardizing the quality of parts, these ratings and certifications ensure a final product can meet the needs of the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and the consumer.
For a manufacturer looking to improve the quality of their products and consistently meet customers’ expectations, ISO provides answers. ISO is the International Organization for Standardization, and outlines standards for quality management, environmental management, health and safety, IT security and more.
There are several documents within the 9000 family of standards, but ISO 9001 is the only one that requires certification. When a company is “ISO certified,” it means that they have met the requirements of the ISO 9001 with an in-house Quality Management System (QMS). A company’s QMS should demonstrate effectiveness and the ability to identify, track, and implement continuous improvements.
To get an idea of the scope of ISO: there are currently over one million companies in over 170 countries certified to ISO 9001. Some other facts about ISO 9001:
Because many processes are required to make parts, a QMS that is ISO certified helps protect the manufacturer and the buyer, as well as offer peace of mind. It helps ensure consistency, quality, and ultimately customer satisfaction.
ISO/TS 16949-2009 is a technical specification based off of the 9001 standard, and is specific to the auto industry. Like the ISO 9001, this rating defines quality management requirements for manufacturing companies as they relate to the production, development, and installation of auto-related products.
Vehicle assembly plants are often encouraged (or required) to seek ISO/TS 16949 certification in their suppliers, in order to reduce variations, minimize defects, and curb waste within the supply chain. TS 16949 is internationally recognized, and if an OEM is a member of the International Automotive Task Force (IATF), then a certificate from your IML company will be required.
TS 16949 certificates are valid for three years, and must be confirmed annually. While an organization might seek overall certification, the rating is often applied to particular facilities or locations. Vehicle assembly plants, Tier 1 suppliers, and Tier 2 and 3 manufacturers (like an IML company) all benefit from achieving TS 16949 certification and ensuring quality processes along the entire supply line.
Aichi Quality is an additional certification specific to Japan, and acknowledges companies with “superior manufacturing practices.” It has designated quality, a customer-first principle, and environmental considerations as the characteristics intrinsic to Aichi Quality companies.
Sanwa’s Japan facility is certified to this standard, and is located in a prefecture known as the "Monozukuri State" (or Manufacturing State). This area is also home to Toyota and other major Tier 1 automotive suppliers. Sanwa Japan is certified company #11, and has maintained this rating since Aichi began granting certifications in 2003.
Each Sanwa location around the world applies individually for ISO and IATF certificates when it’s time for renewal. Being current with our certifications allow us to work with suppliers who require certifications, as well as continually improve our quality, services, and efficiencies. It takes a lot of paperwork, but it keeps our team focused on the goal of providing consistent and innovative solutions.
If you have questions about our in-house quality management systems, or if you’re a Sanwa customer in need of proof of ISO 9001 or ISO/TS 16949-2009 certification, always feel free to contact us. We’re here to supply you with the information and certificates needed to ensure you’re working with an IML company that meets your production line’s needs.