THE automotive division of NSK Bearings has become one of the first businesses to win a global quality standard.

NSK Europe, which employs 640 staff in Peterlee, east Durham, has achieved the sought-after TS16949 quality specification.

NSK manufactures bearings and steering systems for the motor industry, with clients including Nissan, Toyota and Land Rover.

Experts from the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) Industry Forum worked with NSK to ensure that its production methods and training matched the new standard, which is replacing all existing quality standards in the world automotive industry.

NSK's principal quality engineer Lynn Ward said: "We are committed to total customer satisfaction which can only be achieved by an overall commitment to quality as a way of working, and applied to everything we do within our business.

"The new standard is a vital accreditation, and is symbolic of a quality company."

SMMT Industry Forum chief executive Graham Broome, said: "The TS16949 specification is replacing the multiplicity of standards and audits that have gone before, and will undoubtedly be good for the industry."