< Back to Blog Listings

The WHO, WHAT, and WHY of the IMDS Conference

car headlight diagram-blog

Are you contemplating attending the 2018 IMDS & Product Chemical Compliance Conference on September 26-27, but you’re not sure why it is important and how you can benefit?

To help you decide, we asked two of the AIAG members who were around back in the early days of the conference for their thoughts on WHY there is an IMDS conference and HOW past conferences have helped those who attended.

Our guests are Chuck LePard, senior consultant, Product Compliance and Sustainability, IMDS & CDX Americas Representative and Brenda Baney, founder/owner, B Cubed Consulting. Here are their thoughts.

The IMDS (International Material Data System) is the automobile industry's material data system. Initially, it was a joint development of Audi, BMW, Daimler, DXC, Ford, Opel, Porsche, VW, and Volvo. Additional manufacturers have joined the community, IMDS has become a global standard used by almost all of the global OEMs, and talks are being held with more manufacturers regarding their participation in IMDS. In IMDS, all materials used for automobile manufacturing are collected, maintained, analyzed, and archived. Using the IMDS makes it possible to meet the obligations placed on automobile manufacturers, and thus on their suppliers, by national and international standards, laws, and regulations.

AIAG: When was the first IMDS Conference held?

My first Summit was not until 2011, but records left by my predecessor show the first AIAG IMDS and Product Compliance Summit was in October 2004. Initially (until 2012) the IMDS Summit was a one-day event rather than 1.5 days.

Baney: I remember that in 2002, we knew IMDS was coming, and companies had started working toward it in about 2000.  

AIAG: What was the driver for creating a conference and what did you hope to achieve?

Baney: The driver for the first and actually all subsequent conferences has been the European waste regulation for vehicle recycling or End-of-Life Vehicle Directive (ELV), which set progressive limits for recycling and recoverability targets along with the first substance restrictions. All vehicle manufacturers must show proof that their cars can theoretically meet the recycling targets; therefore, information about materials is needed. Manufacturers also need to certify that they do not have any of the substances of concern. The first revision of ELV only included the four heavy metals: meaning lead, mercury, cadmium, and hexavalent chrome. Exemptions were being discussed from the very beginning and the need for more cooperation between OEMs and suppliers to have effective advocacy was obvious.  

LePard: The primary drivers for the first (and most subsequent) conferences have been helping the automotive supply chain respond to new regulations and the resulting changes in IMDS and OEM requirements. In January 2005,  IMDS Release 3 required suppliers to provide information for the first time regarding recyclates, ELV application codes, and polymeric parts marking. This constituted a major increase in the amount of information companies had to provide, and so the conference was a forum for OEMs and the supply chain to discuss these requirements and find ways to collect and report the information.

AIAG: How have past IMDS Conferences helped attendees cope with the rapidly expanding regulations over the years?

LePard: The AIAG IMDS and Product Reporting Summit permits OEMs and Suppliers to identify common and practical methods to comply with the regulations with maximum efficiency and minimum overhead. Also, it provides a forum where customers, suppliers, and competitors can meet and discuss ways to improve compliance while expressing and resolving concerns. The Summits also help attendees become aware of upcoming regulatory obligations, providing an opportunity to methodically plan ahead for compliance rather than reacting in “fire drill” mode after the fact.

Baney: The conference quickly became a gathering for experts from North American companies to discuss both new regulations and the software tool requirements. Another objective was to gather feedback for the IMDS Steering Committee to use in improving the software and/or the company data rules. Although we now take it for granted, the fact that the global automakers have funded a common tool and modified their internal data-gathering efforts to common best practices is why automotive is held up as a shining example of good product chemical management.  

Early uses included tracking and reporting changes for lead use in glass that wasn't allowed after 2003 (in light bulbs) and a multi-year effort to meet the 2006 hexavalent chrome restriction. Although the automakers wanted to ban hex chrome beginning in 2004, the already established cooperation allowed the progression to be driven by the platers and lower component makers. The 2006 date was met by almost all and the groups moved on to track lead in solder and the now popular phthalates.

The emergence of the Supplier Alliance in about 2010 gave the IMDS group one-stop shopping for supplier feedback. CLEPA, AIAG, and JAPIA representatives committed to yearly meetings at rotating sites and were able to meet with groups of OEMs regarding their concerns. This fostered even more cooperation, and the working relationship between OEMs and suppliers progressed. For ELV and IMDS, this mostly non-competitive topic is expanding at the same time that company resources are shrinking. This makes it even more important for the remaining experts to compare notes and assure common understanding of the path forward.

This year’s conference theme – Design for Environmental Compliance – builds on the 2017 event theme Data Quality. In addition to an update from the IMDS Steering Committee and an OEM/Supplier Panel on data quality requirements, speakers will share the latest on:

  • CAMDS Reporting
  • Conflict Minerals: Cobalt
  • Asia Pacific and Europe
  • VIAQ
  • Electronic Car Challenges
  • IMDS 11.1 (Live Demo!)
  • IMDS 12.1: What’s Coming
  • Prop65
  • Global Regulations (e.g. GADSL & GLAPS)

Exclusive AIAG Offer!

Register for our 2018 IMDS & Product Compliance Conference and attend the full day IMDS Basic Concepts and Application course on Tuesday, 9/25* FREE! Register soon to take advantage of this offer, and benefit from two experiences: the IMDS conference and 9/25 class – both for the price of one, In addition to a detailed review of all basic concepts, the IMDS Basic Concepts and Application course provides hands-on instructions how to build, receive, and submit data related to ongoing customer requests. The IMDS Conference also includes an abbreviated (optional) IMDS training the morning of September 26 and a CMRT 5.1x training on the morning of September 27.

The IMDS conference frequently sells out, so register soon. This day-and-a-half event includes significant time for panel discussions, networking, Q&A, and touring vendor exhibits. For a full agenda of the event’s legislative updates and IMDS topics, click here.

Don’t forget to check out AIAG’s three new IMDS training courses – click here for more information.

For additional information on this event as well as the CM Briefing, visit www.aiag.org/store/corporate-responsibility/events.

 headshot ChuckLePard_DXC

Chuck LePard, senior consultant, Product Compliance and Sustainability, IMDS & CDX Americas Representative

headshot Brenda Baney 

Brenda Baney, founder/owner, B Cubed Consulting

Can’t make it to the IMDS & Product Chemical Compliance Conference, but still want to be “in the know” about upcoming AIAG events? Here’s the cheat-sheet version of what’s up next (click any of the links below for more information!):

September 6-7: AIAG/SCAC Supply Chain and Quality Conference

September 18-19: 2018 Quality Summit

October 30: 2018 GHG Emerging Issues Event

November 8: 2018 Customs Town Hall  

November 9: 2018 AIAG Annual Membership Appreciation Event



Subscribe to Email Updates