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SAQ 5.0 certification: sustainable supply chains in the automotive industry

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A SAQ 5.0 certification is the entrance ticket to the automotive industry. It confirms that the candidates comply with the standards for good Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and social and environmental sustainability.

Definition: what does the SAQ 5.0 certification mean?

SAQ stands for Self-Assessment Questionnaire. It is a questionnaire that car manufacturers united in the Drive Sustainability Initiative (DSI) use to query the sustainability in the value chain of their suppliers. By this, the DSI partners want to ensure that the standards defined by the United Nations in its Social Development Goals (SDGs) are met throughout their entire supply chain. The idea of the SAQ 5.0 is that suppliers document how they ensure on their end that they implement the SDGs. The DSI has commissioned NQC Ldt. for the preliminary review of the documents. It maintains the Supplier Assurance portal through which applicants for SAQ 5.0 certification can upload their documents. After the preliminary review by the NQC candidates can provide improvements. This is followed by an in-depth investigation by the respective car manufacturer. He can also inspect the documents on site at the supplier and check the implementation of the information in the SAQ 5.0.

Who can get a SAQ 5.0 certified?

Every company that wants to become a DSI partner can get certified. The following companies belong to the DSI and use the SAQ 5.0 process:

  • BMW Group
  • Daimler AG
  • Fiat Chrysler Automobiles
  • Ford
  • Honda
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Scania CV AB
  • Toyota Motor Europe
  • Volkswagen Group
  • Volvo Cars and Volvo Group.

The SAQ 5.0 questionnaire must be answered by all companies that produce parts or components for car manufacturers. Equally, suppliers must go through the SAQ 5.0 process from the areas of logistics and recycling, chemical products (EU Chemicals Regulation, REACH), electrical manufacturers (RoHS, EU Hazardous Substances Directive) and raw material producers. Companies should appoint a sustainability manager in preparation for SAQ 5.0 certification.

Find more information in the text about the tasks of a sustainability manager.

Why is a SAQ 5.0 certification important?

Without a SAQ 5.0 certification no company in Europe can be awarded a contract by the DSI partners. They have set the goal for themselves to drive sustainability throughout the automotive supply chain. Hence, with the SAQ 5.0 they have established a common approach within the industry that integrates sustainability in the entire procurement process. Only those companies that demonstrably promote these goals as suppliers can be certified. And because they cannot get orders without SAQ 5.0 certification, this procedure is so important for them.

Find more information in the text about the SAQ 5.0.

What does a SAQ 5.0 certification include?

In terms of content the questions of the SAQ 5.0 certification are based on the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda with its 17 Social Development Goals (SDGs). Sustainability in the automotive industry includes beside the environmental aspects according to the SAQ 5.0 also social security for employees, occupational health and safety, respect for human rights as well as the compliance of the CSR standards and the data protection. For the SAQ 5.0 certification potential suppliers have to deliver in addition to general explanations also certificates. These can be certificates of their management systems, guidelines and CSR reports.

Find more information in the text about Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

What are the environmental aspects of SAQ 5.0 certification?

Beside these social and CSR aspects the proof of environmental and resource protection is at the centre of a SAQ 5.0 certification. For this the DSI requires individual proof that suppliers use raw materials and natural resources – especially air, water and soil – sparingly and carefully. For these sustainability tasks car manufacturers expect certificates from management systems according to ISO standards. Many aspects must therefore be taken into account for SAQ 5.0 certification. Most companies therefore set up a Sustainability Management System for systematic processing.

Find more information about the requirements of the SAQ 5.0 certification in the text about Sustainability Management Systems.

What is the SAQ 5.0 certification process?

Car manufacturers invite potential suppliers to participate in the SAQ 5.0 certification. They have two to four weeks afterwards to upload their documents to the NQC Supplier Assurance Portal. In many cases the NQC examiners provide feedback within a few days with a request for further documentation or improvement. If the sustainability performance is still not convincing the car manufacturers commission an external testing organisation to carry out a sustainability audit. After further improvement and uploading of additional documents the supplier receives an SAQ report. Subsequently, some manufacturers also check their potential suppliers on site. Only then the manufacturer decides whether to grant SAQ 5.0 certification and if a company becomes a preferred supplier.

Checklist SAQ 5.0 certification

The SAQ 5.0 certification process itself takes a few weeks. It is way more time consuming until a company meets the requirements because all business units are to be aligned with the SAQ 5.0 certification. The following checklist serves as an orientation for sustainability managers:

  1. Social Sustainability
    1. Wellbeing of the employees
    2. Compliance with local labour rights
    3. Anti-discrimination and human rights
    4. Protection of minors and prohibition of child labour
    5. Respect for the rights of association and collective bargaining
    6. Adequate wages and social benefits
    7. Regulated working hours
  2. Compliance and Code of Conduct
    1. Avoidance of conflicts of interest
    2. Respect for intellectual property and prohibition of plagiarism
    3. Fight against corruption
    4. Fair competition
    5. CSR Sustainability Report according to GRI, SASB or other standards
  3. Occupational health and safety (ISO 45001)
    1. Occupational health and safety directive and health prevention
    2. Accident prevention and protective equipment
    3. Trainings of employees
  4. Information Security
    1. Data protection (GDPR)
    2. TISAX, Trusted Information Security Assessment Exchange; special provisions of the automotive industry on data protection
    3. Cyber security (ISO 27001)
  5. Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) (ISO 26000)
  6. Environmental and energy management (ISO 14001, ISO 50001)
    1. Energy efficiency and prevention of environmental damage
    2. Compliance with the REACH regulation on the handling of chemicals
    3. Compliance with RoHS, the Directive on the Use of Hazardous Substances in Electrical Products
    4. Use of sustainable raw materials and circular economy
    5. Waste prevention and recycling
    6. Water protection

Find more information in the text about sustainability management.

What does a SAQ 5.0 certification cost?

The SAQ 5.0 certification itself is free of charge. Many companies, however, require investments for the preparation. Especially for the introduction, implementation, and certification of management systems according to ISO standards, you should assign external service providers.

Take advantage of a free initial consultation on SAQ 5.0 certification from Memex Consulting GmbH in Munich.

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