As supply chains face challenges around the world, clear supply chain communication is crucial to keeping your products on the market. Failure to keep your suppliers apprised of new regulations, or updated on deadlines and expectations, can create snags in your supply chain that will impact every stakeholder, from your suppliers to your customers.
This can be especially true in automotive manufacturing, where suppliers need to understand how to use the International Material Data System (IMDS) to report data in a timely manner. For some suppliers, this may mean learning a new system and understanding new data requirements.
Communicating early and clearly is still essential. IMDS, however, also has some additional best practices when it comes to working with your supply chain that can help you build productive business relationships with your suppliers.
Set IMDS Expectations Early
In automotive manufacturing, using IMDS is required at every level of the supply chain. Make sure your suppliers know that IMDS will be required from the outset. One way to establish this is to make IMDS a mandatory part of pre-production approval process (PPAP).
Suppliers should also understand expectations for the data that is used in IMDS. For example, all IMDS declarations should be made with the Global Automotive Declarable Substance List (GADSL) requirements in mind, as well as Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS), Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and California Proposition 65, among other regulations. All data keyed into IMDS must also closely adhere to the recommendations set forth in the Help Section of the IMDS interface.
Provide IMDS Training
Educating your suppliers from the beginning is crucial. Often suppliers, especially smaller operations, are overwhelmed at the prospect of using IMDS and see it as a bigger endeavor than it needs to be.
IMDS is a free system that simply requires a registration process. There is a small learning curve at the beginning, but it is easy to create parts and assemblies. There are also resources available to help with the more complicated aspects of the system.
Providing your suppliers with IMDS training and with documents outlining complex points will go a long way in getting suppliers on board with IMDS and creating a productive business relationship.
You should also emphasize the added value of IMDS to your suppliers. Once they understand how to use the new system, data updates are easy to make and that data can be sent to any of their customers. Investing a small amount of time in IMDS will yield many benefits and might be the difference between a successful business relationship or a lost opportunity for suppliers.
Communicate Clear Data Quality Expectations
High quality data is essential for successful product compliance. Making sure your suppliers know your IMDS data expectations can be the difference between smooth compliance and a rocky back-and-forth struggle to meet requirements.
The data in IMDS must represent the materials as they stand on the finished product. Basing data merely off the Safety Data Sheet is never sufficient, as this may not exactly match the finished product.
Suppliers also need to understand that the structure of the IMDS trees, regardless of their complexity, must be an exact reflection of the engineering requirements listed on the Bill of Materials (BOMs) and respective related drawings, including all platings and coatings.
Material standards should be clearly labeled on drawings, especially when it comes to published metals. Using the grade is not sufficient. The nomenclature should make it easy to identify what published/standard metal is used and whether several options are possible. The same care should be applied when detailing polymers, paints and other materials.
Making sure your suppliers understand how to adhere to these standards will preempt future questions and help you prevent supply chain delays.
Get IMDS Support
Communicating IMDS expectations with your suppliers is key to keeping your supply chain operating without disruption.
If you need help training your suppliers in IMDS, contact Tetra Tech’s IMDS experts at [email protected]. Our online training includes hands-on exercises, digital quizzes, access to our IMDS Helpline and more.