APQP and International Material Data System

By Wally Stegall and Jon M Quigley

Collecting and Reporting Material

One approach to collecting and reporting material content is the International Material Data System (IMDS).  IMDS is a computer-based material data system used and funded primarily by automotive OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturer of cars, trucks, heavy vehicles, agricultural equipment, construction equipment, industrial equipment, military vehicles, and other apparatus) although other manufacturers use IMDS to manage environmental care aspects of products.

“The IMDS (International Material Data System) is the automobile industry’s material data system. Initially, it was a joint development of Audi, BMW, Daimler, HP, Ford, Opel, Porsche, VW and Volvo. Further manufacturers have meanwhile joined the community and IMDS has become a global standard used by almost all of the global OEMs. Talks are being held with further manufacturers regarding their participation in IMDS. In IMDS, all materials used for automobile manufacturing are collected, maintained, analyzed and archived. Using the IMDS, it is possible to meet the obligations placed on automobile manufacturers, and thus on their suppliers, by national and international standards, laws and regulations.[1]http://www.mdsystem.com


In today’s global economy the laws and regulations governing materials used in products is ever changing. One way to stay ahead or at least know where a product stands relative to laws and a regulation is to know the material content of the product from day one.  However, compliance to laws and regulations is not the only reason.  Many believe in being green for its’ own sake.  Monitoring material content is a tangible demonstration of a company’s level of commitment to environmental care and corporate conscience.  Monitoring material also makes it easy for both suppliers and customers to see the product content for their own internal decision making process.  Importantly there are methods and infrastructure to demonstrate a measure of due diligence when it comes to understanding product material composition.


Some companies that employ an Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) approach in their product development may be contractually required to use IMDS MDS as part of their Production Part Approval Process (PPAP).  This applies to automotive companies and their suppliers.  Specifically there are 19 documents defined by AIAG that constitute the PPAP and those documents are[2]:

  1. Part submission warrant (PSW)
  2. Design records/drawings
  3. Engineering change documents
  4. Design Failure Mode Effects Analysis (DFMEA)
  5. Process flow diagram
  6. Process Failure Mode Effects Analysis (PFMEA)
  7. Dimensional results
  8. Material/Performance test results
  9. Initial process study
  10. MSA studies
  11. Qualified laboratory documentation
  12. Pre-launch control plan
  13. Process control plan
  14. Appearance approval report
  15. Bulk material checklist
  16. Product sample
  17. Master sample
  18. Checking aids
  19. Customer specific requirements

APQP PPAP references IMDS in Appendix A- Completion of the PART Submission Warrant (PSW) Material Reporting section although other formats are allowed.  We provide the view of the entire warrant and a snap shot of this section of the PSW below[3]:


Part Submission Warrant (APQP PPAP) example

Part Submission Warrant (APQP PPAP) example

Figure 1 Part Submission Warrant and IMDS

It is clear that the entire warrant addresses much more than the material content as it qualifies the part.  In fact, the part submission warrant is a component (or better still the culmination) of the PPAP as evidence of engineering design record and therefore is associated with configuration and change management.

Does this sound expensive? It does not have to be although material content reporting requires integration into the product life cycle from start to legacy.  Products that are already in production can also be documented.

The Approach

Material reporting starts at the top level of a Bill of Materials. As an example an embedded product is typically made up of a, Printed Circuit Board, solder, resistors, connectors, labels, enclosure and many other individual top level components.

Each of the Components will be broken down to its sub components. As an example a connector could have a shroud, a terminal, a gasket etc.

The individual component of the connector is next broken down by its sub components. As an example the terminal used in a connector is made up of a copper alloy and a plating material.

Once you have drilled down to the lowest level of the component the base materials are detailed. As an example the copper alloy could be composed of cobalt, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, nickel, phosphorus, tin, zinc, and misc. not to declare. (Note: There is a percentage that cannot be exceeded of miscellaneous material not to declare proprietary materials and those materials must not be on the prohibited list.) Additionally each material would have to be broken down by its weight and percentage of the copper alloy of a terminal. A tolerance would also have to be provided for each material.

A company can request the data from the supplier’s compliancy manager from a webpage, call the supplier directly, or look up a contact in the IMDS data base.

Suppliers and OEM may make the data available to the public domain or in response to request.

Material Content data may be entered into the IMDS Data base directly by a supplier or in manually from the following: an IPC 1752 format, Joint Industry Standard format (JEDEC), simple spread sheet, suppliers lab report, or on a suppliers print.

Report Examples

Conflict Minerals

“The term “conflict minerals” is used to describe certain minerals such as gold, wolframite, casserite, columbite-tantalite and their derivative metals, which include tin, tungsten, and tantalum that are mined in the DRC (Democratic Republic of Congo) or its adjoining countries.[4]

Some material restrictions originate from other than contamination of the environment sources, as in the case of the above material list.  In this instance, the aim is political as the mining practices are a source of financial gain for militias responsible for considerable violence in the region.  Cut the funding; reduce the ability to fund the violence.  For the United States these controls are part of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection-Act passed in 2010.


“The intent of GADSL is to become the company specific list for declaration of parts composition within the automotive industry. It provides a definitive list of substances requiring declaration with the target to minimize individual requirements and ensure cost-effective management of declaration practice along the complex supply chain. The scope is to cover declarable substances in the flow of information relevant to parts and materials supplied throughout the automotive value chain, from production to the end of life phase. The GADSL only covers substances that are expected to be present in a material or part that remains in the vehicle or part at point of sale[5].”

The Global Automotive Declarable Substance List (GADSL) is the result of automotive industry and petrochemical industry collaboration. The goal is to understand the materials used in the industry that are part of the sold vehicle to the customer.  The intent is to easily exchange information within the supply chain about the materials used.[6]

An MDS can be made public for search on the IMDS data base, the information can be posted on a web page, or it can be maintained solely between the supplier and customer.

Proprietary Information

Proprietary information is always a concern so we add one cautionary word of advice. Use the mechanisms for handling proprietary information.  Before publishing an MDS publicly in the system or to a customer make sure IP has been considered in the presentation.  It’s the material content and traceability that is important.  A manufacture of electronic modules does not need to disclose the actual BOM in the MDS.  It is not necessary to curtail the use of the tool due to any proprietary part concerns.

As noted above an MDS can be made public for search on the IMDS data base, the information can be posted on a web page, or it can be maintained in confidence between a supplier and a customer.   This is again important to remember when setting up a system for material content reporting since the customer may not want IMDS information public.  When, how, and to who needs to be controlled depending on the nuance of commercial relationships.


The International Material Data System (IMDS)

  • IMDS is free.
  • Data for a product can be assembled from suppliers directly loaded MDS. It can also be manually loaded from the other formats that suppliers may choose to share data.
  • Detail data base tools for analysis.
  • Data base references many of the global rules and regulations.

Reports can be generated and transferred to other report formats.  IMDS MDS are expected to be correct and maintained. There can be serious legal and finical repercussions if a company is found not to be in material compliance by a government or regulatory.

IMDS may help with identifying materials defined in US Conflict Minerals Law.

References and Additional Resources





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