TS 16949 Auditor Availability and Registrar Scheduling Delays


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I work as a part-time sr. quality engineer for 2 different small auto suppliers in SE Michigan. (Both less than 50 employees). Both of course must hold TS 16949. Two different registrars involved (both headquartered in Michigan). Both had trouble scheduling surveillances in late 2013, and we are seeing the same thing again! I am told that in general the pool of qualified TS auditors is short. Yet I cannot figure out how it can take weeks to schedule 1 person for 4- 5 days (TS + 14000)!

Our deadline for TS surveillance is 11/23, and I've been waiting weeks with no schedule.

In one case, I (the key recommender) and top manager are getting quite impatient with registrar "A"; but as my experience with "B" was also marginal, so I'm not in hurry to switch to them!

Questions, then...

#1 - Is it still true that the auditor ranks are shorthanded generally? Or, perhaps, the registrars I use are paying poorly, treating auditors carelessly, etc.???

#2 - I've scoured the forum history and haven't seen much in the way of specific recommendations for registrars in the past few years. Many threads, but most going back to 2009 or earlier.

I realize that many (including myself!) are reluctant to speak up regarding dissatisfaction on the public record. But perhaps I might ask once again that anyone who is particularly HAPPY with their TS registrar/audit staff mention that? We are definitely at the point of seeking a new registrar. [It's probably too late for this surveillance.]

A few specific things we are looking for:

A. Auditor flexibility/ openmindedness. This is important to us because our business is blending industrial chemicals as a bulk material supplier. No parts. No packages (the stuff is delivered in tanker trucks!). Complex lab instrumentation and procedures. Raw materials are commodity bulk chemicals from extremely large suppliers who don't know or care about TS16949, ISO 14000, etc. We work hard, and succeed in attaining quality (and haven't had a single customer quality complaint from our OE customer for 4 years!). But, many TS requirements need to be adapted to follow the spirit; in some cases it's impossible to meet the letter.

B. This also makes it tricky for the CB to find auditors, not too many TS auditors with chemical industry scope.

C. We realize that auditor pay rates are a competitive market and are willing to pay for professional talent. BUT we don't think it's value added to bring auditors cross country! Our current auditor comes from Toronto to Detroit, running up a good size travel bill before he even starts. Travel expenses are nearly as much as the auditor fees. We thought that using locally headquartered firms would help with this but it appears we thought wrong.

Any suggestions on or off line would be appreciated.

Best to all!!!

Jen Kirley

Quality and Auditing Expert
Re: TS Auditor Availability/ Registrar Delays

Hi bpritts,

I can offer that TS auditors really are getting scarce, in part because the qualification and re-qualification process has become tough to the point of absurdity. Plus you need someone with chemical back ground... Oy. It is entirely believable that your registrar can only find someone who must travel, and plane fares absolutely have gone up.

I can also offer that auditors may be able to show some flexibility, but probably not much because the standard is not flexible and the only allowed exclusion is 7.3 (design). And IATF has been pressuring the auditors to be tough, and "protect the customer" through a focus on requirements and examining processes to see if they appear sound to succeed in making good product. I can also offer that while I was going through the training my class was told we must insist our auditees use the core manuals. That sounds wrong and inflexible, but I maintain that is what we were told.

I regret to give you this news that almost certainly will not give you comfort. :(


Moved On
Re: TS Auditor Availability/ Registrar Delays

I;d suggest that, yes, TS auditors are becoming scarce, but they are often also treated poorly by CBs - my experience is that they are often hired "at will" which make continuity of auditor very difficult to maintain. Also, the auditors may not being paid a rate commensurate with their status, plus, they have to field all kinds of complaints when the CB's back office provides poor service.

I hear all these things nearly every week from clients who wish to transfer their certificates...


Super Moderator
Re: TS Auditor Availability and Registrar Scheduling Delays

Lack of availability is #1 and there are many root causes.

I contract now instead of working full time and I have to decline work because I'd never be home


Involved - Posts
Appreciate the comments from Jennifer, Andy and Randy. Sounds like, yes, it is true that auditor availability is a problem, possibly exacerbated by other issues. (The last 2 auditors from the registrar in question have b*****ed about administrative problems, e.g. getting expense reports paid in a timely way. No better way to mess with someone than to tamper with the "rice bowl" )

Another shout-out to anyone out there -- if you are happy with your TS registrar company, how about giving them an 'attaboy/girl'? We are strongly considering a move and would love to hear from happy customers. (Or, if you want to warn me about a problem child a PM would be fine, too!)

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