A great source of pride for tire plant employees is seeing tires they produced fitted on a shiny new car in a sparkling auto dealer showroom. That’s because gaining an original equipment (OE) fitment is no small task – automakers only purchase tires from the most technologically-advanced plants that adhere to the most stringent quality control standards.
Giti Tire plant team members in Richburg, SC, celebrated when their plant received two key certifications for quality management – ISO 9001 and IATF 16949-2016. These hard-earned international certifications paved the way for Giti passenger tires to become original equipment on the Volkswagen Passat sedan, as well as the temporary spare tire on the Volkswagen Atlas SUV.
ISO 9001 is the international standard that specifies requirements for quality management systems (QMS). IATF 16949-2016 covers technical specifications for automotive sector quality management systems. One of the most widely used international standards in the automotive industry, the IATF standard harmonizes the different assessment and certification systems in the global automotive supply chain. To obtain the IATF certification, which is mandatory to become an OE tire supplier to the major automakers, a company must first obtain the ISO 9001 certification.
"Every single team member at the plant and adjoining R&D center played a role in obtaining these certifications because every aspect of the operation is rigorously examined."Carole WilbertSenior Quality Assurance and Standards Manager , Giti Tire Mfg. (USA) Ltd.
"...after just 18 months of our first tires rolling off the assembly lines, we joined an elite group of tire manufacturing facilities worldwide certified to produce OE tires for the major automakers."Carole WilbertSenior Quality Assurance and Standards Manager , Giti Tire Mfg. (USA) Ltd.
To make the Herculean task even more difficult, Wilbert explained, is the fact that the Richburg plant, which began production in 2017, is a “greenfield” facility built from the ground up. “We could not rely on metrics from other Giti plants because every plant has unique characteristics, such as the exact way different chemicals are mixed together in the tire compounds. I like to say that we had to ‘Chesterize’ the data,” she noted.
The process to prepare for the IATF audit took about 10 months. Team members who already had a full workload put in thousands of extra hours to gather the necessary data. Extremely hard work, but it was worth it, Wilbert said. “I got a good case of the goosebumps when we received word that we had passed the Volkswagen audit. It meant that the Richburg plant had arrived; after just 18 months of our first tires rolling off the assembly lines, we joined an elite group of tire manufacturing facilities worldwide certified to produce OE tires for the major automakers.”
It is also a sense of pride for local residents, knowing that Chester County is home to one of the world’s most advanced tire manufacturing facilities and that their neighbors employed at the plant proved that fact by achieving the ISO and IATF certifications.