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Standard Work Instruction Languages (IATF 16949

We just completed our IATF surveillance audit and the auditor went out of her way to make a point that we have 3 languages on our production floor, but our standard work instructions are only in 2 languages. She did not write a finding, but said the requirement to have SWI's in the languages understood by responsible personnel (IATF is being emphasized. If we don't follow up, we could have a nonconformance next year. To translate everything into a third language would be a large undertaking for us, and we are trying to figure out how to address it. What have others seen in regard to this? Have others had major or minor nonconformances related to SWI languages? What strategies are being applied to satisfy the requirement?
Rather than go with multiple language documents, I would make sure everyone has a understanding of your "shop language." I suppose it would depend on how complicated your instructions need to be. For us, a few key words and concepts are sufficient.


Really trusted?
I would look in your document stating required competences, whether there is something about language.
When there is nothing about it, or there is something and you have no evidence of language testing you deserve a nonconformity.
Investigate where foreigners are assigned and then translate only related instructions.


Quite Involved in Discussions
I had the same issue at a previous employer, I solved it by making work instructions in a "universal" language, something I called "Visual Procedure", where we utilized pictures and photographs to communicate the idea, with arrows pointing to specific features and numerical data where tolerances were required. It takes some work, but beats the standard 50 page booklet with instructions in 15 languages...
Thank you all for your responses, they are consistent with what I had in mind, and this provides input for others at my company to consider. I'm also trying to convince the group that we are over-documented. We have a good training program and the reality is people know how to do their job through the training, and not the work instruction.

John C. Abnet

Good day @Jim TC ;
Remember to always approach your organization's management system selfishly.....
i..e What is in the best interest of your organization ?

Regardless of the auditor's comments, consider how this situation may directly impact your organization and its customers? Is it safe to assume that if any of the documentation in question was "wrong" or "gone" it could lead to a nonconformance (i.e. safety issue for an associate or product/service quality to your customers) ? If that is the case, then would it not be critical for those documents to be in a language understood by your teams?

Hope this helps.
Be well.

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