Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)
APQP or Advanced Product Quality Planning is a structured approach used in the automotive sector to ensure that new products and processes meet customer expectations. Lately, APQP has become a principal element for Aerospace & Defence industry fragments as it’s a key factor of the AS9145 standard.
APQP enables hassle-free communication between customers and suppliers regarding customer requirements, resulting in less complexity in product quality planning. The product evolution process requires numerous inputs and outputs in every phase to meet customer specifications. APQP aids in the early detection of both intentional and incidental changes. These changes, in turn, generate advanced innovations elevating customer happiness.
History of APQP
In the1980s, experts like Ford, GM, and Chrysler saw the need of coming together to create a common core of product quality-planning principles, which is now called advanced product quality planning. In the late 1980s, APQP became a major part of the automotive industry and standardized protocols and formats were established for each component, so as to meet customer requirements. Furthermore, guidelines were established in the early 1990s for consistency, these guidelines then gained momentum and adoption among manufacturers across a wide range of industries.
5 Phases of APQP
- Plan and Define
- Product Design and Development
- Process Design and Development
- Product and Process Validation
- Feedback Assessment and Corrective Actions
Even before phase one- APQP requires one pre-planning stage before moving on to "Plan and Define”.
- Pre-planning: Concepts, assumptions and prior knowledge forms the foundation of APQP. In addition to shelf knowledge and conventional work practices, this stage mainly leads to the areas where significant changes are likely to occur.
- Plan and Define: It is essential to work by keeping the end customers in mind while planning and defining a quality program. This phase is primarily concerned with ensuring that the customer’s voice is clearly understood.
- Design the goals/objectives
- Reliability objectives
- Preliminary bill of material
- Preliminary process flow chart
- Preliminary list of unique product and process characteristics
- Product assurance plan
- Management support
- Product Design and Development: This phase focuses on completing the product design and also product feasibility assessment is done in this stage.
- Design reviews
- Design verification
- A control plan for product prototype creation
- Design failure mode and effects analysis
- Material specifications and equipment requirements are defined.
- Process Design and Development: To achieve the right quality products, planning the manufacturing process is mainly focused on this stage. The goal is to keep the product criteria, product quality and production cost in mind while designing and developing the production process.
- Packing standards
- Process flow diagram-PFD
- Error proofing activities
- Process flow chart
- Process failure mode and effect analysis- PFMEA
- Pre-launch control plan
- Feedback and method of rapid detection
- Measurability, Reliability and quality data
- Product and Process Validation: This phase focuses on testing the manufacturing process and finalizing the production control plan through trial run.
- Production part approval - PPAP
- Production trial run
- Production control plan
- Validation testing
- Packaging evaluation
- Quality planning sign-off and management support
- Process capability study
- Feedback assessment and Corrective Actions: In this phase, the outcome of the trial run is analyzed to ensure customer satisfaction.
- Better documentation
- Satisfied customer requirements
- Best practices in product delivery and services
- Reduction in variations and improved manufacturing process
- Quality plan sign-off
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Comparison of APQP, PPAP, and DFSS
The Product Part Approval Process (PPAP) mainly emphasizes the evidence, or the proof gathered during the APQP process. Validated results from the first trial run confirm that quality of delivery is expected. The trial run must replicate the production environment with all proper equipment, processes, machines, employees and other factors that affect part quality. Both APQP and PPAP are inextricably linked because PPAP documents are the outcome of APQP. PPAP serves as a proof that APQP was completed successfully.
Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) is also an approach to new product or process which is primarily used to re-design a product or process. DFSS is a laser like concentration on needs and specifications. APQP has a greater scope than DFSS and may be scaled to the level of risk that each supplier, design or process poses on program success.
The following are some of the most important objectives for apqp quality planning:
- Ensure that the new Product/Process produced meets the needs of the customer.
- The new product/process is completed on time.
- Minimal or no quality issues with customer product/process requirements.
- Proper communication and collaboration in the implementation scheme.
- Improved manufacturing and assembly design.
- Minimal quality risks during product launch.
Benefits of APQP:
- Proper planning and collaboration leads to better quality products.
- Always minimizes delays as it can catch risks in the earlier phases.
- Improved lead times and consistent production.
- Validation guarantees product conformity across different suppliers.
- Quality product at a low cost.
- Better directions and expectations are given to the suppliers.
System Requirements for APQP:
Procedures for implementing the quality policy are also documented to:
- Plan advance product quality assurance activities.
- Address required aspects.
- Establish necessary organizational structures.
- Maintain proper technical interfaces in order to meet customer needs.
In the quality manual, the organizational chart is displayed as:
- Overall structure and hierarchy of the organization.
- Organization of the quality department.
The structure of each department.