Anyone heat treating material for automotive applications is familiar with CQI-9 Special Process: Heat Treat System Assessment (HTSA). For others, however, an explanation is in order.

Originally called HT2005, during its developmental stage, CQI-9 was issued by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) in March of 2006. CQI-9 is just part of the specification evolution in the automotive industry that began three decades ago.

In 1971, the British Standards Institution (BSI) published the first UK standard for quality assurance, BS 9000, which was developed for the electronics industry. Through the 1970s, BSI organized meetings with industry to set a common standard. The result was BS 5750 in 1979. In 1987, the initial version of ISO 9000 was issued having the same structure as BS 5750.

While the ISO 9000 family of specifications satisfied the need for international standards consolidation, the domestic auto-motive industry was not fully satisfied with the general nature of the ISO document, and in 1994, QS-9000 was first published. Developed by Daimler-Chrysler, Ford and General Motors. Based on ISO 9001:1994, it incorporates additional quality re-quirements expected by the big three.

To regain the international applicability, the International Automotive Task Force (IATF), which consists of an international group of vehicle manufacturers plus national trade associations, wrote ISO/TS 16949 in conjunction with the International Organi-zation for Standardization (ISO). This specification aligned existing American (QS-9000), German (VDA6.1), French (EAQF) and Italian (AVSQ) automotive quality-systems standards within the global automotive industry.

So now we have ISO/TS 16949. In fact, after Dec. 14, 2006, Ford no longer accepts QS-9000. Together with ISO 9001:2000, ISO/TS 16949 specifies the quality-system requirements for the design/development, production, installation and servicing of automotive-related products. In addition, there are customer-specific requirements defined by individual subscribing vehicle manufacturers. The International Automotive Oversight Bureau (IAOB) is the IATF oversight office responsible for implementa-tion and management of ISO/TS 16949.

Why have we seemingly wound down this unending rabbit trail? It is hard to discuss CQI-9 without understanding the bigger picture. CQI-9 is the companion document for ISO/TS 16949 to address HTSAs. Ford is specifying that “effective Jan. 1, 2007, all heat-treating processes at each supplier and organization manufacturing site shall be assessed annually, using CQI-9.” Pyrometry requirements for the HTSA are in accordance with AMS 2750.

For those companies interested in becoming involved in this area, a review of ISO/TS 16949 and CQI-9 will let you know what you need to do. Several organizations also provide training sessions to help you understand what is required for compli-ance. For those of you already heat treating automotive parts, be advised that the latest Ford directive indicates that you must be in compliance with CQI-9 as of the first of this year. Any parts heat treated after that time may be subject to containment until proof of compliance is obtained. IH

For more information on CQI-9 and the specific requirement for each of the big three auto manufacturers, please see www.iaob.org.