There are many opportunities for failure when dealing with complex products and supply systems, especially when launching new items. In order to guarantee customer satisfaction with new products or processes, advanced product quality planning (APQP) is an organized approach.
APQP has been used for many years and in a variety of ways. Progressive businesses utilize APQP, originally known as Advanced Quality Planning (AQP), to ensure quality and performance through planning. Early in the 1980s, Ford Motor Company released the first Advanced Quality Planning manual for suppliers. To support the corporate quality initiative, APQP assisted Ford suppliers in creating suitable prevention and detection measures for new products.
The North American Automotive OEMs jointly developed the APQP method in 1994, and it was modified in 2008 based on the lessons learned from Ford AQP. The goal of APQP is to streamline the common planning processes that all automobile OEMs require. Suppliers use APQP to successfully validate new goods and processes and promote ongoing improvement.
Within APQP, various tools and methods are described. Every tool has potential value if used at the right time.
What is Core Tools?
The Core Tools are those tools that have the biggest influence on the success of the product and process. IATF 16949 compliance is anticipated to be achieved using the Core Tools. There are five fundamental Core Tools, including Advanced Product Quality Planning, that are described in different guidebook handbooks (APQP).
The other Core Tools are:
- Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
- Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA)
- Statistical Process Control (SPC)
- Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)
What is Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)
A structured method of designing products and processes is called APQP. This framework is a collection of uniform quality standards that enables vendors to create products that satisfy customers.
Product quality planning’s main objective is to make it easier for engineering operations to collaborate and communicate with one another. The APQP method utilizes a Cross Functional Team (CFT), which consists of marketing, engineering, purchase, production, maintenance, and quality assurance. The Voice of the Customer (VOC) is ensured to be fully understood and transformed into requirements, technical specifications, and unique features through the use of APQP. Benefits of the product or method are built in through prevention.
APQP encourages the early detection of change, whether it be deliberate or accidental. These adjustments may lead to exciting new innovations that support client satisfaction. They lead to failure and unhappy customers when poorly managed. Utilizing tools and procedures to reduce risks associated with the change in the new product or process is the main goal of APQP.
Why Implement Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)
The constant pursuit of continuous improvement is supported by APQP. Eighty percent of the APQP process is comprised of the first three components, which are centered on planning and prevention. The fourth and fifth portions, which support the final 20% of APQP, concentrate on validation and supporting data. The fifth component enables a company to convey lessons learned and offer input specifically for the development of standard work and processes.
Key advantages of APQP:
- Focusing resources by separating the important few things from the unimportant many
- Encourage early change detection
- Intentional (what is being changed on purpose to bring value to the customer)
- Incidental (environments, customer usage, degradation, and interfaces)
- Avoid post-release adjustments by predicting failure and avoiding it
- Later in the product development process, there are fewer design and process changes
- Affordable quality goods delivered on schedule
- Several strategies for reducing the risk when discovered sooner
- Increased capacity to validate and verify a modification
- Improved coordination between process and product design
- DFM/A (Design for Manufacturing and Assembly) Improvements
- Earlier selection of less expensive options
- Advancement of tribal knowledge, preservation of the past, and formulation and application of standards of practice
When to use Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)
Communication between the organization or customer and the supply chain is facilitated by APQP. As the process progresses, requirements that translate into more exact specifications are made clearer and divided into smaller pieces.
Two applications of APQP exist:
Application # 01: Support for New Product Introduction (NPI)
In order to replace failure, APQP adds a focus on risk to product development procedures. Instead of waiting for failure to occur during testing, or worse, in the hands of the client, this enables the team to address the risk. In order to focus on all facets of product and process design, service, process quality control, packaging, and continuous improvement, APQP uses risk-based methods.
Because of the amount of fresh material, adjustments to current off-the-shelf technology, or failure history, each APQP application might be different from a prior application.
Application # 02: Product or Process Change (Post Release):
A product or process change outside of product development is followed by APQP, which ensures that the risk of change is successfully managed by averting issues brought on by the change.
How to Put Advanced Product Quality Planning into Practice (APQP)
One pre-planning stage and five concurrent stages make up APQP. The Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) cycle is frequently used to highlight how a process never truly ends once it has started. W. Edwards Deming popularised the PDSA method. Each part follows the methodologies and instruments for analytical risk discovery. Finding risk during the creation of a product or a process is preferable to discovering failure after the fact.
The following defines the APQP Sections:
Section 0: Preparation
Assumptions, concepts, and prior knowledge form the basis of APQP. There is a list of bookshelf knowledge, common working procedures, and places where major change is anticipated. The inputs into Section 1 – Plan and Define are collected in this section.
Section 1: Plan and Define
Section 1 connects requirements to client expectations, wants, needs, and desires. The output of this segment will be of a satisfactory product quality thanks to plan development. Assumptions are made on resource allocation, workflow, and product. A list of preliminary special characteristics is established, together with design and reliability objectives.
Section 2: Product Design and Development
Design and development of products are the main topics of Section 2. In a formal design review, geometry, design elements, specifics, tolerances, and the refinement of unique traits are all examined. This section also includes testing and design verification using prototypes. DFM/A, Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (DFMEA), and Design Verification Plan and Report are often very useful tools in this section (DVP&R).
Section 3: Process Design and Development
The production processes and measurement approaches that will be employed to realize the design engineer’s vision are examined in Section 3. Tools utilized in this part include process flow charts, process failure mode and effects analysis (PFMEA), and control plan methodology.
Section 4: Product and Process Validation
Section 4’s main objective is to validate the process’s quality and volume capabilities. This section introduces statistical process control (SPC), measurement systems analysis (MSA), and process capability studies. When the Product Part Approval Process (PPAP) is approved, production can start.
Section 5: Feedback Assessment and Corrective Action
Section 5 looks at the lessons learned from the current manufacturing process, RPN reduction or Action Priority identification and reduction of risk from High to Medium to Low, internal and external corrective actions, the Eight Disciplines of Problem Solving (8D), and the gathering of information useful for future use.
Section-by-section APQP Inputs and Outputs
Every section of the APQP is based on previously established risk data. The sharing of information ensures a logical flow for risk detection and mitigation. Below is a description of each section’s specific inputs and outputs:
Inputs into Section 1:
- Voice of the Customer
- Market research
- Historical issues
- Team experience
- Business Plan and Marketing Plan
- Product and Process Benchmark
- Product and Process Assumptions
- Product Reliability Studies
- Customer Inputs as applicable
Outputs of Section 1:
- Design Goals
- Reliability and Quality Goals
- Preliminary Bill of Material (BOM)
- Preliminary Process Flow
- Preliminary list of Special Characteristics
- Product Assurance Plan
- Gateway approval
Outputs of Section 2:
- Design FMEA (DFMEA)
- Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFM/A)
- Design Verification
- Design Review
- Prototype Control Plan
- Engineering Drawings CAD the Master
- Engineering Specifications
- Material Specifications
- Change Control for Drawings
- New Equipment, Tooling, and Facilities Requirements
- Special Product and Process Characteristics
- Gages / Testing Equipment Requirements
- Team Feasibility Commitment and Gateway approval
Outputs of Section 3:
- Packaging Standards and Specifications
- Quality System Review
- Process Flow Chart
- Floor Plan Layout
- Characteristics Matrix
- Process FMEA (PFMEA)
- Pre-Launch Control Plan
- Process Instructions
- Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA) Plan
- Preliminary Process Capability Plan
- Gateway Approval
Outputs of Section 4:
- Significant Production Run
- MSA Results
- Process Capability Studies
- Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)
- Production Validation Testing
- Packaging Evaluation
- Production Control Plan
- Quality Planning Sign-Off and Gateway approval
Outputs of Section 5:
- Reduced Variation
- Improved Customer Satisfaction
- Improved Delivery Performance
- Effective Use of Lessons Learned
Examples of Places to Implement APQP
- Utilizing Quality Function Deployment, create requirements from the Voice of the Customer (VOC) (QFD)
- Create a product quality plan that is integrated into the project or program schedule.
- Product and Process Assumptions should be converted into a percentage of new content.
- design activities for products prior to design release, communicating any unique or important aspects to the process design activity
- This could involve new materials, stricter tolerances, parts with different geometries and shapes, and pieces that connect the DFMEA and PFMEA.
- Create test strategies (DVP&R)
- A formal Design Review used to monitor progress
- Based on the design tolerances that the product design source has provided, decide on, purchase, and install the required process equipment and tooling.
- Communication between assembly and manufacturing staff regarding improvements to product assembly (DFM/A)
- Create suitable quality controls for any product or process parameters that have special or key characteristics but yet pose a risk of failure.
- Using Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Process Capability to conduct Stability and Capability Studies on Special Characteristics to Understand Variation Present and Predict Future Performance (PPK and CPK).
How to Create a Plan for Product Quality (PQP)
The first step in the APQP process is the formulation of a product quality plan (PQP). The PQP could differ for every different development. A core group of employees will analyze the concept design, process and product assumptions, overall project goals, and previous failures during the planning phase. The core team chooses tools from each part based on their potential utility when failure avoidance is discussed after gathering this information. To increase the effectiveness of program and project management, the PQP is connected to the project timing plan. Based on the potential risk posed by both purposeful and unintentional change, tools and strategies are chosen. Finding undiscovered danger is desirable.
The Cross-Functional Team for APQP (CFT)
As APQP develops, the Cross-Functional Team (CFT) adapts and changes. A CFT gathers the preliminary information needed to start Product Quality Planning prior to the project’s launch. This procedure is usually quick and requires minimal effort to build new products or procedures. Pre-planning has several benefits, such as:
- The project’s scope
- Assumptions for Products and Processes
- Former failure
- Team size, organization, and expertise
- Techniques for problem-solving
- Space and materials needed
- Project’s timeline
The CFT grows when certain disciplines become necessary. Engagement of purchasing resources when “make or purchase” decisions are necessary and engagement of tool design resources when prototype and production tooling are needed are two examples of team evolution.
Collaborative Product (Process) Development is used for APQP (CPD). Each CFT discipline consults with its counterparts on matters that may have a good or negative influence on quality, cost, or delivery. Additionally, each CFT discipline communicates its unique characteristics. The less expensive and labor-intensive a product or process’s flaw can be fixed, the earlier it can be identified. The team completes the Plan and Design activity while working concurrently with the project timeline:
- Manufacturing Engineering (ME) handles the Process Design and Development,
- Product Engineering (PDE) tackles the Product Design and Development Process.
Inputs, outputs, and management gateway reviews are included for each section. Gateways are timed to correspond with significant choices that affect the project’s quality, cost, or delivery.
How are APQP and PPAP related?
The Product Part Approval Process (PPAP) draws attention to the proof or data gathered during APQP. Results from the first trial run that have been validated provide credence to the claim that high delivery quality is expected. The trial run needs to be an accurate representation of the production environment, including the right tools, machines, processes, people, and circumstances that could affect part quality.
PPAP and APQP are inextricably linked because PPAP documents are the outcome of APQP. PPAP serves as proof that APQP has been carried out effectively. Poor APQP can be linked to subpar performance in a PPAP or a rejected sample. PPAP deliverables are APQP planning’s extensions. The aspects of PPAP are outlined below; you’ll see that many of them overlap with APQP tools or are their output results:
- Part Submission Warrant (PSW)
- Design Records
- Engineering Change Documents
- Customer Engineering Approval
- Design FMEA (DFMEA)
- Process Flow
- Process FMEA (PFMEA)
- Dimensional Results
- Performance and material test results
- Initial Process Capability Study
- Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA)
- Qualified Laboratory Documentation
- Bulk Material Requirements (if required)
- Control Plan
- Cosmetic or Visual Signoff
- Sample Product
- Master Sample
- Checking Aids
- Records of Compliance with customer-specific requirements
How do DFSS, NPI, and APQP Relate?
Goals and development tools are shared by APQP, NPI, Design for Six Sigma (DFSS), and other product development processes. These tools are exemplified in our Core Competencies. The Product Development Process (PDP) is frequently applied as the default procedure to support supplier participation. A very concentrated effort, DFSS is only utilized for very valuable requirements or specifications. Compared to DFSS, APQP has a wider scope and is scalable to the perceived risk that each supplier, design, or process poses to the success of the program.
Example of Relationship between APQP, NPI, and DFSS
An OEM is putting the finishing touches on a brand-new end-user product. The item will adhere to the OEM NPI. In order to ensure that supplier expertise is included in product design for a number of the subsystems and components, supplier involvement is necessary. The vendors will be involved in the APQP process.
In contrast to previous offerings, DFSS will concentrate on core aspects that are extremely beneficial. These aspects need must be adhered to throughout all communication channels and organizations, according to a Six Sigma Black Belt. These projects all make use of the same tools. The Black Belt is free to employ the tools at a variety of utilization levels.
Courses on Core Tools from ‘Quality HUB India’:
- Measurement System Analysis (MSA) -Hindi Version
- MSA + SPC (Hindi Version)
- MSA + SPC (English Version)
- Statistical Process Control (SPC) – Hindi Version
- Statistical Process Control (SPC) – English Version
- Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) – Hindi Version
- Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA) – English Version
- APQP + PPAP (Hindi Version)
- APQP + PPAP (English Version)
- Core Tools Complete Package (APQP+PPAP+MSA+SPC+FMEA)- Hindi Version
- Core Tools Complete Package (APQP+PPAP+MSA+SPC+FMEA)- English Version
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