Critical Concepts to Know About the New IATF 16949® Control Plan Reference Manual

A Summary of 4 major areas of impact in the new IATF 16949® Control Plan Reference Manual

The new Control Plan Reference Manual was developed and released by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) in March 2024.  Issuance as a standalone reference manual emphasizes the importance of the control plan as a critical core tool within an automotive quality management system (QMS).  Compliance to the newly issued reference manual will be determined by the customers via their Customer Specific Requirements in the coming months. General Motors and Stellantis have indicated an implementation date of September 1, 2024. Ford has set December 31, 2024 as their deadline. 

The control plan is the operational expression of the Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and drives the measurement studies required for the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP). Control Plan continues to be an ongoing point of audit non-conformances and is consistently in both the top ten major and minor non-conformances as identified by the International Automotive Oversight Bureau (IAOB). 

In this article, Bob Dornhecker, simpleQuE IATF® and ISO consultant, reviews the critical changes on the control planning process, and shares key points to consider regarding the impact to the organization’s QMS. The changes discussed are Pass Through Characteristic, Error Proofing, Visual Inspections, and Production Control Plans.

Critical Concept 1- Pass Through Characteristic (PTC) control:

  • Pass Through Characteristics (PTC) are product characteristics that are manufactured by the supplier and used in the organization’s process without further modifications or validation.
  • PTCs are ultimately supplied to the OEM and control of the PTCs must occur in the supplier’s process.
  • PTCs must be identified by the organization.
  • The organization must have a process to validate effectiveness of supplier’s control of the PTCs.
  • The control plan must document all PTCs and control methods.
  • The customer must review and approve the control of PTCs with the pre-launch control plan.
  • If a PTC sampling plan is used for receiving inspection, this activity must be identified on the control plan.

Impact to the automotive QMS:

When reviewing supplied products to the organization, consideration must be given to the Pass Through Characteristics (especially special characteristics).  Methods of PTC control may include review of SPC data from the supplier, review of process capability data from the supplier, or receiving inspection of the characteristics at the site.  Consult with your customer for the desired method.

Critical Concept 2 – Error Proofing (EP) Confirmation control:

  • EP devices must be listed on the control plan.
  • EP effectiveness check devices (method and frequency) must be identified on the control plan.
  • Frequency of EP device verification is the ability for effective containment since last “good” verification result (i.e.: beginning of each shift).
  • Red rabbit control and management for functionality and identification (to prevent mixing with production parts)
  • Master defect samples must be at or just outside spec limits or tolerances (ability to identify when a part is “just barely” out of spec).

Impact to the automotive QMS:

If your QMS includes error proofing applications, ensure the following are considered:

  • The control plan and FMEA are updated to include the process, method and frequency of validation (red rabbit) checks.
  • Work instructions are available at the area that describes the error proofing validation process including red rabbit identification, reporting results, and reaction if a failure occurs.
  • The red rabbits are identified, and the operator is aware of how to perform the validation process.

Critical Concept 3 – 100% Visual Inspections:

  • Control Plan must reference periodic validation for visual inspections.
  • Periodic validations can include sampling audit and offline measurements.
  • Control plan must indicate who is responsible (title or role) for the validation activities.
  • Control plan must indicate a customer approved master AND/OR boundary sample.

Impact to the automotive QMS:

If your QMS includes 100% visual inspections, please consider the above requirements.  Audit the process by ensuring a periodic validation is occurring and there are records of that validation.  Ensure the method of 100% visual validation is identified in work instructions and the work instruction also describes how to react to a failure.  Also, ensure the boundary samples or masters are included in the document control system showing revisions and approvals.

Critical Concept 4 -Production Control Plans:

  • System for controlling production.
  • Start of production will include safe launch or enhanced containment period.
  • Safe launch is an addendum to the production control plan or identified as a special control period on the production control plan.
  • Safe launch period is defined as the judgement period for removal from safe launch control (i.e.: 90 days from start of production).
  • Consult CSR for method required for safe launch.
  • Use mass production data to evaluate and improve control methods and control plans (feedback from customer and the process)
  • Control plan is a living document and should be updated based upon experience gained and feedback provided.

Impact to the automotive QMS:

The control plan reference manual has included the requirement for safe launch.  This requirement can be in the production control plan (as described above) or in the pre-launch control plan.  Reference your customer’s CSR to determine which (or in some instances, both) control plan needs to address the safe launch description.

More details of the release of the Control Plan manual can be found in our article The New APQP and Control Plan Core Tools are published!

Learn more about the key points to know about the Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) reference manual.

How do you cross the finish line to become IATF® Certified?

If you’re searching for a consultant, our team at simpleQuE is well positioned to support your IATF 16949® certification, maintenance, and internal auditing needs. SimpleQuE also offers a full line-up of IATF 16949® training courses which includes AIAG Core Tools (including the new APQP 3rd Edition and Control Plan 1st Edition), Root Cause Analysis and Problem Solving, Requirements and Implementation.  Contact us to learn more about the customized services offered to match your certification and training needs.

This article is by simpleQuE consultant and auditor, Bob Dornhecker.  With over 35 years of combined experience in auditing, manufacturing and certification, Bob has an extensive quality background.  Additionally, he has taught and facilitated many quality related training classes for clients and has provided support to companies securing their own ISO/Quality Management Systems certifications.  He also conducts ISO 9001 and IATF 16949® 2nd and 3rd party audits.

SimpleQuE is not associated with the IATF®, IAOB, ANAB®, IAQG®, and is not a certification body. SimpleQuE is an independent consulting, training, and second-party auditing service provider that assists a company on a path for the company to obtain and maintain certification through accredited certification bodies.



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