Of the several quality management standards used by companies that supply services or products to other corporations, Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) and Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) have been adopted most wholeheartedly. These standards ensure that parity is maintained between the marketed goods and the customer expectations. Propounded by the Big Three automakers in the early 1990s, each of the standards has its own instruction manual, published by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG). Although the two are quite closely related, there are some major differences.
Defining APQP and PPAP
APQP details a set of guidelines that helps drawing a plan that would sustain the expansion of a product or service and meet the needs of the customer at the same time. The plan offers tools to counter a problem that might be hampering the growth or affecting the customer. There are four stages involved in the process: plan, do, study and act. Of the four, the first three are aimed at processing the entire circle and enhancing the service. Act is the execution of the process and meeting the customer’s requirements.
The AIAG training program states that the purpose of PPAP is to assess whether the customer's engineering plan and requirement necessities are correctly recognizeds by the supplier. PPAP is the proof that the customer’s needs have been interpreted correctly by the supplier.
PPAP is a Part of APQP
From the definitions, it is apparent that PPAP is the result of correct use of APQP. PPAP is all about collecting data and information created by the APQP phase and presenting the worked out design to the customer for response and sanction. In fact, the Act stage of APQP is, in essence, PPAP. Based on the customer’s feedback, trial production runs are implemented to further improve the quality of delivery.
The purposes of APQP are broadly planning and defining program, product design and development, process design and development, product and process validation and feedback corrective action.
The purpose of PPAP is included in the goals of APQP; they are product and process validation and feedback corrective action. It renders three possible reactions: the product and process may be approved, an interim decision may be given, requesting further information or awaiting decision or it may be entirely rejected.
APQP has little or no customer involvement. In this phase of the planning, engineers and managers looking after the supply chains of the business put their heads together to draw up a plan of action.
PPAP, on the other hand, requires the customer’s approval, or a negative feedback, as the case might be. Obviously, this stage involves direct customer participation.