The inception of the IMDS was based on the principle that you cannot recycle a car if you don’t know what it is made of. The internet-based system provides a record of materials used in automotive manufacturing and is designed to facilitate industry recycling efforts.
It was originally a joint development of Audi, BMW, Daimler, EDS, Ford, Opel, Porsche, Volkswagen and Volvo, but has since become a global standard for the industry. There are numerous regulations around the world that require automotive manufacturers to report on the content of their vehicle. However, IMDS creates a common system to simplify compliance requirements when trading parts and components globally.
While it was once relatively unknown, IMDS compliance is now unavoidable for suppliers to the automotive industry. Often, automotive OEMs will refuse to accept delivery of components without an IMDS number. Even for parts manufacturers with longstanding relationships with OEMs, new requirements for IMDS data can hold up shipments until an IMDS number is produced.
Getting an IMDS number
To generate an IMDS number, suppliers are required to submit their component data to the online system. Each listing must include the weight, size and material composition of the part and every component that is contained within it. Sounds simple enough, right?
Unfortunately, the system isn’t particularly intuitive and learning to operate it efficiently takes time, patience and man hours. For many smaller manufacturers, this can become a costly exercise. However, it is often essential for supplying into the automotive supply chain. To further complicate proceedings, there is often more materials data to a component than a parts manufacturer might initially think.
Consider the wing mirrors of a vehicle as an example. The basic materials for this part might include a stainless-steel surround, glass for the mirror and plastic coverings for the signal indicator light, if the mirror includes one. However, IMDS also requires data for any smaller components. That includes every nut, bolt, bulb and bearing within the mirror.