When companies make products out of dozens or hundreds of components, there are hundreds of ways for things to go wrong. Advanced product quality planning (APQP) is a system for keeping product quality and customer satisfaction high. APQP started in the auto industry in the 1980s as a way for car manufacturers to reduce problems with new models. The production part approval process (PPAP) applies similar standards to manufacturers' supply chains.
Advanced product quality planning is a system for designing and delivering quality products and eliminating the risk of product failure. The production part approval process ensures that the APQP manufacturer's supply chain delivers equally reliable parts.
In APQP, quality isn't an end in itself. The goal is to ensure that your company delivers a top product that will make your customers happy. If you apply APQP to the new product line you're rolling out, you'd break your quality planning into several steps:
- Define what the customer wants from your product. Use that to set standards for design, reliability and quality.
- Design the product, including specifications for the materials you're using and the equipment requirements.
- Review the manufacturing process. Identify potential problems and failure risks and develop plans to deal with them.
- Test your processes and confirm that they're effective.
- After you start the production line, continue assessing quality and make constant improvements if necessary.
If APQP works properly, you can reduce or eliminate the risk of launching a new product that turns out to be a turkey.
The production part approval process involves parts suppliers in the manufacturer's quality planning process. Like APQP, PPAP came out of the auto industry. The goal was to ensure that suppliers could consistently reproduce automobile parts at a given production rate and level of quality. The PPAP bible is a manual listing suppliers' requirements for PPAP and the PPAP documents' format. The documents include design records, engineering change documents, customer engineering approval, process flow diagrams and material performance reviews. The exact PPAP requirements and documentation will vary from industry to industry.
Done correctly, the quality planning includes the part approval process. If the PPAP results aren't up to scratch, that usually means the APQP process isn't working properly. The test for both APQP and PPAP is a production trial run. If the finished trial product includes defective parts, the manufacturer has to go over the supply chain and find out where PPAP or APQP went wrong.