Two Decades of Innovative Automotive Compliance with IMDS

The Summer of 2020 gives those in the automotive industry something to both celebrate and reflect upon: The International Material Data System (IMDS) has turned 20 years old. This unique and innovative industry solution has been instrumental in automotive regulatory compliance and continues to evolve and improve with the demands of today.

Material reporting exists in every industry — but the automotive industry is especially complex with many thousands of components per vehicle, developed by a large number of suppliers. Prior to 2000, suppliers and OEMs were working within a paper-based material data sheet reporting process that entailed many limitations. Then in 2000, the European Union (EU) announced the End of Life Vehicles (ELV) Directive to address the 8 to 9 million tons of waste created by vehicles each year. With this directive came a larger burden of materials reporting. The industry needed a better solution if it were to remain compliant in the EU market.

Automotive OEMs including Ford, BMW, Opel, Daimler, Volvo, Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi joined together with DXC Technology to create the universal database of automotive materials known as IMDS. The founding members actively participated in the groundwork of IMDS. These were people within the industry — not outsiders. The OEMs paid for and continue to fund IMDS — so it is a free database for all automotive suppliers.

Adapting to Serve the Automotive Industry

The last 20 years have witnessed the development of new technologies — and IMDS has kept up. The system has evolved from a single server that supported approximately one thousand registered users to a server cluster with more than 350,000 registered users.

Over time, the developers harmonized different company-specific substance lists to develop the International List of Restricted Substances (ILRS) and the Global Automotive Declarable Substance List (GADSL). Then, IMDS integrated Application Codes, REACH SVHCs and Biocidal Product Regulation (BPR) information, allowing its users to fulfill new legal requirements.

The IMDS system started as a response to the EU ELV Directive but now can be used to fulfill a comprehensive set of automotive regulations, laws and OEM quality requirements.

The Legacy of IMDS Success

Much of the continued success of IMDS can be attributed to the strong support of the automotive industry as a whole. The IMDS Steering Committee has evolved from the seven founding members into a global collaboration that actively involves 45 OEMs with more than 60 brands worldwide using this solution.

Read DXC Technology Announcement to Learn about Future IMDS Enhancements

IMDS is unique in that there was a central platform that meant industry participants didn’t need to invest in their own hardware and software. The technology was offered worldwide long before widespread use of cloud solutions. And the system saw the support and commitment of the industry that allowed it to scale and improve to what it is today.

Tetra Tech has Been with IMDS Since the Beginning

Tetra Tech’s first IMDS Training was held in Ann Arbor, Michigan, in December 2001. Since then we have trained 9,000 individuals on IMDS in classroom settings. We have seen many changes in the systems, tools and processes over this time period but many of our experienced consultants have been with us since the very beginning. Here are a few pictures from 2002 when our team was just getting started:

Tetra Tech environmental compliance team

Join us in celebrating the continued success of this important reporting tool and the people who have built it and continue to make it better.  To get the most out of the enhanced and improved IMDS system, explore becoming a certified IMDS professional with one of our expert IMDS online training programs. Here’s to 20 more years of IMDS as a robust automotive reporting tool!


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