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IMDS Through the Years

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In 1999, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (then EDS) collaborated with European Union (EU) car manufacturers to create a material data exchange system that would penetrate throughout the supply chain. The first release of the International Material Data System (IMDS) was in 2000, and corresponded with ratification of the EU End-of-Life Vehicle (ELV) directive legislation. By 2001, HPE was extending IMDS into the United States and beginning its long relationship with the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG).  By 2002, IMDS was extended into Korea and Japan and was quickly adopted in Japan as one of two automotive standards. IMDS is now used worldwide, in nine languages, by virtually all global automotive OEMs and suppliers, with over 400,000 users from more than 150,000 companies.

Initially, IMDS focused on engaging suppliers in reporting the base materials in the individual components of a car. IMDS provided direct, fast, and efficient flow of information between car manufacturers and their suppliers. Today, the focus of IMDS includes improving the quality of the data by including more check procedures validating that certain data rules are followed, and big-data analysis functions that check the compliance of groups of MDSs with the Global Automotive Declarable Substance List (GADSL) and other regulatory topics.

HPE and the IMDS Steering Committee have been committed to continuous improvement. Initially, IMDS addressed data collection exclusively for ELV compliance. In April 2006, IMDS implemented GADSL. In 2008, IMDS added support for the new Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulations. In 2014, GADSL began including active biocidal substances, and so Biocidal Product Regulation (BPR) substances were added to IMDS.  The US Conflict Minerals Act prompted creation of the IMDS CM Analyzer in 2015 to give IMDS users the ability to locate conflict minerals within their material data sheets more easily, and to serve as a gateway to Compliance Data Exchange (CDX) and its Conflict Minerals Declaration (CMD) Manager for sending CMD requests to suppliers.

In mid-2013, the IMDS infrastructure received modernization to ensure IMDS would remain optimized and capable of addressing the future reporting vision. The improvements included reworking and streamlining the functions and program flows of the web application, providing a state-of-the-art Graphical User Interface, and updating the IMDS IT architecture and infrastructure to ensure stable operations. The new architecture provides enhanced power, scalability, and reliability to operate IMDS for the worldwide automotive community, while reducing the IMDS total energy consumption and carbon footprint.

In addition to these highlights, the IMDS Steering Committee, supplier organizations, and HPE have worked hard throughout the years to identify and implement ways to improve IMDS’s functionality, user experience, and stability. When improving IMDS, there has been an increased effort to solicit feedback and provide capabilities of value, not only from OEMs, but also from automotive suppliers.  For example, recognizing the need for connectivity between IMDS and in-house IT systems, the data Upload interface was developed in September 2001. Over time, this evolved into the IMDS Advanced Interface (IMDS-AI) which enables any company (OEM or supplier) to exchange data between their internal system and IMDS, and to use IMDS information for broader compliance topics, under specific conditions.

The upcoming IMDS Release 11.0 will continue the tradition of continuous improvement by adding significant new functionality, including IMDS Chemistry Manager. The Chemistry Manager provides a new architectural framework allowing designated users to enter specific types of regulatory information so that it becomes instantaneously visible to all levels of the supply chain. The initial implementation will support the Biocidal Product (BPR) and REACH Annex XIV, yet permits other similar regulations to be added as needed.   

We hope you have enjoyed our walk thru IMDS history. What started out as an EU-based project has developed into the global standard for the exchange of material data within the automobile industry, and is considered the gold standard in material reporting across all industries. We hope to continue this journey together for many years to come!

Chuck LePard and Marelle Fogel are the Americas Representatives for IMDS and CDX.  Chuck is an engineering, manufacturing, material and conflict mineral regulatory compliance senior consultant at HPE Eng. & Mfg. Solutions. He is an active member of AIAG's Chemical Management & Reporting, Conflict Minerals Workgroups and the AIAG Chemical Management & IMDS Summit Planning Committee. Marelle is a consultant specialist at HPE Eng. & Mfg. Solutions. She has a strong applications background related to manufacturing solutions, with an expanding role in AIAG Corporate Responsibility topics.

Hewlett Packard Enterprise is a proud Platinum Sponsor of the 2016 AIAG IMDS & Product Chemical Compliance Conference.