In an era of belt-tightening across the automotive industry, parts and vehicle manufacturers continually seek ways to cut costs.

When this happens, costs associated with tasks such as the increasingly ubiquitous International Material Data System requirement get relegated to the back of the line.

After all, the IMDS reporting requirements add nothing to profit margins. But the complex data are becoming more vital in the struggle to keep customers and earn new business. So what are the options?

Internationally, automotive OEM suppliers are finding themselves in the same trap. They’ve seen steady growth and increasing productivity. They’ve delivered parts within deadlines and under budget. Customers are pleased with production quality and even have come to rely on them in a pinch to fulfill rush orders.

Suddenly, an order is rejected. The client, previously so responsive and satisfied with the work, refuses to accept delivery of a recent shipment until one little line on the supplier’s paperwork is completed – something called IMDS. No shipment, and thus no payment, can be completed until this matter is resolved.

IMDS is an online platform hosted by MDSystem.com. The Internet-based program was created to track recyclable parts in vehicles. The goal is to improve recycling efforts when vehicles are no longer in use. Instead of adding more fodder to landfills, many automobile components can be recycled if their composition has been identified.

IMDS is the single source of this information. The records in the database include the material composition, weight and size of each component in every car for all the companies that participate in the IMDS program.

Current participants include most international automakers, and eventually will include the entire global auto industry.

IMDS began as an agreement between nine auto manufacturers and progressed until it reached the global impact it has today. In addition to storing the information, the database ensures OEMs their suppliers are complying with increasingly stricter international and national material-recycling laws. Most OEMs are using the IMDS standard for classifying auto parts.

Currently, any car sold in Europe must meet the regulatory requirements of the IMDS. To create uniformity among suppliers, automakers demand IMDS data to be recorded for all parts used in the U.S. and abroad. Even if the part being made is for a Mustang assembled in Michigan to be sold in Florida, it still needs to have IMDS data for each of its components.