The Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) are the practical realization of US Government policy regarding the manufacturing of motor vehicles within the nation’s borders. These regulations involve every significant area of automobile performance, so they cover everything from airbag deployment assemblies to structural integrity of the entire frame.

Overview: What are Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards?

The FMVSS are essential reading for companies operating within the automotive industry, particularly in parts manufacturing and assembly. However, the contents and implications of the standards impact every company that relies on the operation of passenger vehicles. These standards also reflect the ongoing development and implementation of broader policies as directed by the US Department of Transportation.

3 benefits of FMVSS

These federal standards are primarily designed to support consumer safety and quality assurance, but the benefits extend into other areas as well.

1. Consumer protection

The primary purpose and benefit of these standards is consumer protection. The minimum quality standards for automotive manufacturing equipment, processes and results are typically oriented around impact on individual and public safety.

2. Promoting fair competition

The creation of federal regulations also has benefits for companies overall. It creates a common framework and foundation for businesses to build their own brand quality image upon.

3. Raising industry-wide quality

Strict and prescriptive standards also have general quality benefits throughout the industry. Even though satisfying regulations may seem like a wrench in the gears of Six Sigma implementation, they are actually a lot more complimentary than you might think.

Why are Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards important to understand?

Understanding the past and present state of these standards helps companies prepare for potential future implications.

Impact on process management

The FMVSS aren’t just about the quality and performance of the end result, which makes them more encompassing than typical industrial regulations. They also deal directly with the quality of equipment and processes used to manufacture vehicles, which means companies need to be more conscious of their entire production flow.

Beyond the expected

Another thing that’s important to understand is consumer expectation. Generally, customers expect good companies to go above and beyond the minimum standards, even if it’s just by a little bit. That’s why manufacturers should consider ways to exceed standards without sacrificing too much efficiency.

Balancing lean priorities

Lean manufacturing is about trimming the fat, not cutting away at the meat. This is a delicate balance that requires careful planning, reflection and experience. Ultimately, businesses still need to accurately identify and address non-value added processes.

An industry example of FMVSS

An automotive manufacturer is setting up a new production facility in the United States and wants to make sure it will be adequate for at least 20 years. Company leaders consult the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards as part of their initial process design and planning phase. They then decide to exceed these standards in almost every area, particularly in areas relating to environmental issues, to buffer against stricter regulations in the future.

3 best practices when thinking about Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards

Companies operating in the automotive industry can integrate federal standards and leverage them to a greater degree of product quality with the proper process management strategy.

1. Create a quality-oriented culture

Businesses operating under broad and stringent standards often do well to embrace a quality-oriented culture at every level of their organization. This creates a solid foundation for building better relationships and a positive brand image.

2. Communicate clear expectations

If you want something done right, you need to be clear about your expectations. Training is only the beginning of an effective onboarding process. Clear communications and confirmation of understanding is the only way to build a bridge towards true quality standardization within a company.

3. Look towards the future

Automotive manufacturers are in one of the many industries that must always be future-minded. Vehicles are engineered years in advance of their planned production date and production, operational and safety standards are always subject to change.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about FMVSS

What is FMVSS compliance?

A process, piece of equipment or finished vehicle is considered FMVSS compliant if it meets or exceeds all of the relevant requirements set forth in the current standards.

What is the purpose of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards?

The purpose of these standards is to establish a common framework for automotive manufacturers to ensure a certain level of consumer and public safety.

Who implements the FMVSS?

The federal standards are regulated by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which is a part of the US Department of Transportation.

Aim for higher standards

Companies can expect federal standards on automotive parts, equipment and vehicles to become broader and more stringent in the years ahead. The potential onset of global industrial standards also means that businesses need to be poised to jump ahead of the curve at a moment’s notice.

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