Elmo Leather of Svenljunga have become one of the first companies in Sweden to receive the certificate which guarantees that the company meets the requirements of the automotive industry’s global quality standard, ISO/TS 16949. The certification, which was carried out by Den Norske Veritas, DNV, the Norwegian certification organisation, is a key competitive instrument. It shows that Elmo Leather already match the requirements that international car manufacturers will be demanding from their suppliers in the future.

The certificate means that a highly respected body has made an assessment of the ability of Elmo Leather to lead and develop quality issues within the company. According to both DNV and Elmo, around 200 Swedish businesses must meet these requirements by the end of 2006 if they are going to be able to compete for deliveries to the global automotive industry. ‘Certification in accordance with this global standard will be a condition for the future for being able to submit a tender to the automotive industry’, says Anders Johansson, Elmo’s quality director.

With the ISO/TS 16494 award, Elmo Leather become one of the first companies in Sweden to gain a complete set of certificates in all areas. The company’s environmental management system has ISO 14001:1996 certification and the quality management system has ISO 9001:2000 and QS-9000. In addition the company’s laboratory in Svenljunga is certified to perform independent analyses and tests on leather.

ISO/TS 16494 is the automotive industry’s first global quality standard. It replaces several national standards, including Germany’s VDA 6.1, France’s EAQF 94, Italy’s AVSQ and, in the long term, the international QS 9000. Elmo faced a tough challenge in gaining certifications for their quality and environmental management systems, gaining their first certificate as far back as 1994. ‘Our employees’ knowledge of leather and manufacturing, plus their commitment to quality and environmental issues, were decisive in gaining ISO/TS 16494′, says Johansson.

The current trend is for the automotive industry to place more and more specific requirements on suppliers. This heightens the demands on management systems for quality and environmental issues in the manufacturing processes. ‘Our process-based and integrated system enables us to efficiently control and drive development projects in close co-operation with customers and suppliers.’ He states that the computerisation of management systems means that the company can continuously supply customers in both the automotive and furniture industries with leather items in accordance with exact specifications every time.