What Happened to QS9000?

When viewing our certifications page, one will see that All Flex is listed as being QS9000 compliant.   The reason for this is that QS9000 is no longer an active certification where an auditor reviews you system and grants certification.  QS9000 compliance indicates that our systems would meet the requirements if the standard was still active.

Background on QS9000

In 1987 ISO9000 was created and quickly became the global standard for quality systems.  ISO is an international organization for setting standards that began in 1947.  ISO9000 was developed in Great Britain where the British Standards Institute (BSI) developed quality assurance standards for the electronics industry.   The first standard was published in 1971 and was known as BS9000.  There were several iterations developed which eventually produced BS5750 and evolved to become ISO9000.

The BSI convinced ISO to adapt this standard in the 1980’s.  ISO9000 quickly gained acceptance in Europe, but was slow to be adopted in the US.

One of the critiques of the earlier versions of ISO 9000 was that it was highly focused on documentation and procedures but did nothing to promote improvements in the management systems.   The US automotive industry was fairly blunt regarding this criticism as they held little regard for the standard, even though they may have required their suppliers to achieve ISO9000 as a “starting point”.

Ford, GM, Chrysler and some key tier one suppliers developed a standard that included ISO9000:1994 as the base, but added elements such as customer satisfaction, continuous improvement, manufacturing capabilities and advanced quality planning.  The key requirements included the use of Design of Experiments (DOE), Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) and Statistical Process Control (SPC).  This standard was known as QS9000 and was officially introduced in 1994.  By 1999 over 12000 companies were QS9000 certified (source)

Many in the industry believed that QS 9000 did more for improving quality of products, reducing costs and improving profits than ISO9000.  In 1998 the ASQ/Automotive industry Action Group surveyed over 200 suppliers to determine the impact on profits.   This survey, along with one conducted with 600 suppliers in 1997 reported that companies that achieved QS9000 averaged a 3-1 return on total cost of the effort.  Additionally, parts per million (PPM) defects were reduced by 50%.  Average return on ISO9000 was a little over break even. (source)

So why was a standard that seemed to have a high level of success become discontinued in 2006?  There were a number of factors that came into play.

  1. Europe automotive companies never bought into QS9000. As the automotive base became more global, the pressure mounted for a more commonly accepted standard.
  2. In 2000 ISO9000 underwent a major revision that incorporated a philosophy that was more consistent with QS9000.
  3. The base of QS9000 was ISO9000:1994, which subsequently underwent major revisions and was no longer relevant.

In 1999 ISO/TS 16949 was jointly created by the International Automotive Task Force (IATF) a group of European, Asian and US automotive organizations.  The purpose of the effort was to harmonize supplier requirements globally.   ISO/TS16949 is based on the following principles.

  • Customer focus
  • Leadership
  • Involvement of people
  • Process approach
  • System approach to management
  • Continual improvement
  • Fact based decision-making
  • Mutually beneficial supplier relationships
  • Fulfillment of customer specific requirements


ISO/TS16949 essentially replaced QS9000 and is now superseded by ISO/TS16494:2016.

All Flex is currently not focused on the automotive market, as such has not pursued ISO/TS16494 certification.   All Flex is currently certified in AS9100 and ISO 9001.  AS9100 is for companies doing business in aviation, space and defense.