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Tips for Small Companies Facing IMDS Reporting Challenges

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Deb Reining of Luvata Ohio, Inc. offered some good advice for small companies trying to improve their management of IMDS. In her presentation, “IMDS in a Small Company: Supplier Reporting Challenges,” which took place at AIAG’s IMDS Conference on October 12, 2017, Reining covered everything from training to MDS submissions.

“The most important thing is to ask questions,” Reining said to the several hundred automotive attendees who work in corporate responsibility capacities for their organizations. “Find out what your customers want and what they allow because no two customers have the same requirements.” For example:

  • Does the customer have a specific naming convention for components or semi-components?
  • Does the component name need to match the part drawing?
  • Do they require use of Steering Committee published materials? Do they allow other published materials to be used?
  • What is their policy on wild cards and jokers?
  • Do they go beyond the GADSL list?
  • Which application codes apply to your component and materials?
  • Are they using Chemistry Manager? How do they treat Chemistry Manager data? Will they reject if Chemistry Manager data is missing?

“The only way to know for sure is to ask the questions,” Reining said. “Do not assume that because one reviewer accepted an MDS, all of them will.”

Here are a couple more of Reining’s tips:

  • Get training. Training can come from videos and slides on the IMDS website, third-party sources, or IMDS and Product Chemical Compliance conferences. “Make sure you understand the why, what, and how of IMDS,” she said.
  • Learn customer requirements. Specific OEM and Tier 1 requirements are on the IMDS website, and in some cases, on the customer website. “When supplying IMDS to a Tier 2, 3, or N customer, ask for their requirements,” Reining said. “If they do not have specifics, ask if there is an OEM or Tier 1 requirement that you should follow.”

Reining also emphasized the importance of working with suppliers “to get good information out of them,” and reminded attendees to give what they learn back to their suppliers. “Don’t be the person you were just complaining about. It will help improve the information you’re getting from them,” she pointed out.

“When requesting IMDS from your suppliers, know what you want and how you want it to look,” she said. “Use available tools to develop your own requirements and communicate requirements to your suppliers.”

In addition, Reining advised attendees not to assume that they know enough about their suppliers’ products and attempt to complete the MDS by themselves. “Data sheets from suppliers do not provide accurate enough information to be used for IMDS purposes,” she said. “Reporting accurate material composition is imperative. Work with your suppliers to get the best information possible.”

Carla Kalogeridis is AIAG’s e-news editor.