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Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)
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– Advanced Product Quality Planning –
Introduction to APQP
What is APQP
Why Implement APQP
When to Apply APQP
How to Implement APQP
Introduction to Advanced Product Quality
Planning (APQP)
Complex products and supply chains present plenty of possibilities for
failure, especially when new products are being launched. Advanced
Product Quality Planning (APQP) is a structured process aimed at
ensuring customer satisfaction with new products or processes.
APQP has existed for decades in many forms and practices. Originally
referred to as Advanced Quality Planning (AQP), APQP is used by
progressive companies to assure quality and performance through
planning. Ford Motor Company published the first Advanced Quality
Planning handbook for suppliers in the early 1980’s. APQP helped Ford
suppliers develop appropriate prevention and detection controls for
new products supporting the corporate quality effort. With lessons
learned from Ford AQP, the North American Automotive OEM’s
collectively created the APQP process in 1994 and then later updated in
2008. APQP is intended to aggregate the common planning activities all
automotive OEM’s require into one process. Suppliers utilize APQP to
bring new products and processes to successful validation and drive
continuous improvement.
There are numerous tools and techniques described within APQP. Each
tool has potential value when applied in the correct timing. Tools that
have the greatest impact on product and process success are called the
Core Tools. The Core Tools are expected to be used for compliance to
IATF 16949. There are five basic Core Tools detailed in separate
guideline handbooks, including Advanced Product Quality Planning
(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 is a structured approach to product and process design. This
framework is a standardized set of quality requirements that enable
suppliers to design a product that satisfies the customer.
The primary goal of product quality planning is to facilitate
communication and collaboration between engineering activities. A
Cross Functional Team (CFT), involving marketing, product design,
procurement, manufacturing and distribution, is used in the APQP
process. APQP ensures the Voice of the Customer (VOC) is clearly
understood, translated into requirements, technical specifications and
special characteristics. The product or process benefits are designed in
through prevention.
APQP supports the early identification of change, both intentional and
incidental. These changes can result in exciting new innovation
supporting customer delight. When not managed well they translate to
failure and customer dissatisfaction. The focus of APQP is utilization of
tools and methods for mitigating the risks associated with change in the
new product or process.
APQP - Concurrent
Why Implement Advanced Product Quality
Planning (APQP)
APQP supports the never ending pursuit of continuous improvement.
The first three sections of APQP focus on planning and prevention and
make up 80% of the APQP process. The fourth and fifth sections support
the remaining 20% of APQP and focus on validation and evidence. The
fifth section specifically allows an organization to communicate
learnings and provide feedback to develop standard work and
processes. A list of APQP benefits are:
Directing resources by defining the vital few items from the trivial
Promote early identification of change
Intentional (what is being changed on purpose to bring value to
the customer)
Incidental (environments, customer usage, degradation and
Avoid late changes (post release) by anticipating failure and
preventing it
Fewer design and process changes later in the product
development process
On-time quality product at lowest cost
Multiple options for mitigating the risk when found earlier
Higher capability of verification and validation of a change
Late Failure Mode
Improved collaboration between Design of the Product and Process
Improved Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFM/A)
Lower cost solutions selected earlier in the process
Legacy capture and reuse, advancement of Tribal Knowledge and
standard work creation and utilization
Early Failure Mode
When to Apply Advanced Product Quality
Planning (APQP)
APQP facilitates communication between the supply chain and the
organization / customer. Requirements that translate into more detailed
specifications are clarified and decomposed to more detail as the
process continues. APQP is used in 2 ways:
1. New Product Introduction (NPI) Support:
APQP supplements product development processes by adding a focus
on risk as a substitute for failure. This allows the team to take action on
the risk instead of having to wait for failure to occur in testing or worse,
in the hands of the customer. APQP utilizes risk based tools that focus
on all aspects of product and process design, service, process quality
control, packaging and continuous improvement. Each application of
APQP may be unique to a previous application because of the
percentage of new content, changes to current off-the-shelf technology
or past failure history.
2. Product or Process Change (Post Release):
APQP follows a product or process change outside of Product
Development and assures the risk of change is managed successfully by
preventing problems created by the change.
How to Implement Advanced Product Quality
Planning (APQP)
APQP is comprised of one pre-planning stage and five concurrent
phases. Once begun, the process never ends and is often illustrated in
the Plan Do Study Act (PDSA) cycle. PDSA was made famous by W.
Edwards Deming. Each section is aligned with analytical risk discovery
tools and techniques. Finding risk in product and process development
is more desirable than finding late failure. The APQP Sections are
defined below:
APQP - Plan Do Study Act
Section 0: Pre-Planning
APQP begins with assumptions, concepts and past knowledge.
Bookshelf knowledge and standard work practices are listed as well as
areas where significant change is expected. This section compiles the
inputs into Section 1 – Plan and Define.
Section 1: Plan and Define
Section 1 links customer expectations, wants, needs and desires to
requirements. Plan Development will assure the output of this section is
satisfactory product quality. Resource planning, process and product
assumptions are made. A list of preliminary special characteristics and
design / reliability goals are also established.
Section 2: Product Design and Development
The focus in Section 2 is on product design and development.
Geometry, design features, details, tolerances and refinement of special
characteristics are all reviewed in a formal Design Review. Design
verification through prototypes and testing are also part of this section.
Tools which typically provide great benefit in this section are DFM/A,
Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (DFMEA) and Design
Verification Plan and Report (DVP&R).
Section 3: Process Design and Development
Section 3 explores manufacturing techniques and measurement
methods that will be used to bring the design engineer’s vision into
reality. Process Flow Charts, Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis
(PFMEA) and Control Plan Methodology are examples of tools used in
this section.
Section 4: Product and Process Validation
Validation of the process quality and volume capabilities is the focus of
Section 4. Statistical Process Control (SPC), Measurement Systems
Analysis (MSA) and Process Capability Studies are introduced in this
section. Product Part Approval Process (PPAP) is ready for submission
and production begins upon approval.
Section 5: Feedback Assessment and Corrective Action
Section 5 explores learnings from the ongoing manufacturing process,
RPN reduction, corrective actions (both internal and external), Eight
Disciplines of Problem Solving (8D) and the capture of information
pertinent for future use.
APQP Inputs and Outputs by Section
Each section of APQP depends on risk information that has previously
been discovered. The information sharing assures a flow of logical risk
discovery and mitigation. The detailed inputs and outputs for each
section are described below:
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 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 Where to Incorporate APQP:
Develop Requirements from Voice of the Customer (VOC) using
Quality Function Deployment (QFD)
Develop a Product Quality Plan integrated into Program / Project
Translate percentage of new content into Product and Process
Product design activities communicating special characteristics or
key characteristics to the process design activity, prior to design
This may include new geometry, shape, parts, tighter tolerances
and new materials linking the DFMEA to PFMEA
Develop test plans (DVP&R)
Use of formal Design Review to track progress
Plan, acquire and install appropriate process equipment and tooling
based on design tolerances provided by the product design source
Assembly and Manufacturing personnel communicating suggestions
of ways to better assemble a product (DFM/A)
Establish adequate Quality Controls for Special Characteristics or Key
Characteristics features of a product or parameters of a process,
which still risk potential failure
Performing Stability and Capability studies on special characteristics
to understand the variation present and predict future performance
with Statistical Process Control (SPC) and Process Capability (PPK
and CPK)
How to Develop a Product Quality Plan (PQP)
The APQP process begins with the creation of a Product Quality Plan
(PQP). The PQP may be unique for each individual development. During
APQP - PQP Flow Chart
the planning section, a core group of personnel will review the concept
design, process and product assumptions, overall goals of the project
and past failures. After collecting this information, the core team selects
tools from each section, based on the value they may bring when failure
prevention is discussed. The PQP is linked to the project timing plan to
aid in program / project management efficiency. The tools and
techniques are selected based on what risk may be present, created by
the intentional and incidental change. Discovering unknown risk is
desirable. Each risk is quantified and mitigation actions are developed
and implemented increasing the probability of project success.
Example of a Product Quality Plan
The Quality-One approach depicted in the following PQP example is a
matrix with calculated ratios of qualitative tools verses quantitative
evidence. Since qualitative tools can be used earlier in the product
development process, Quality-One expects a 3:1 qualitative to
quantitative ratio. The opportunity to discuss potential issues based on
change with qualitative tools should be three times greater than the
actual data collected. Observed data collection happens late in Product
APQP - PQP Example
Development (PD) and reaction to failure may be required. Discussion of
the change, using a tool and a Cross Functional Team (CFT), often results
in discovering and preventing a failure early in PD. APQP is focused on
predicting and preventing failure (80%) and less on detecting it (20%).
The APQP Cross Functional Team (CFT)
The Cross Functional Team (CFT) in APQP evolves and changes as the
process progresses. Preliminary details required to begin Product
Quality Planning are collected by a CFT prior to project kick-off. This
process is typically short and does not involve any product or process
design effort. Aspects of Pre-Planning include:
Scope of the project
Product and Process Assumptions
Past Failure
Team size, structure and experience
Methods for issue resolution
Space and resources required
Timing of the project
The CFT adds members as certain disciplines are required. Two examples
of team evolution are: purchasing engagement when “make / buy”
decisions are required and engagement of tool design resources when
prototype and production tooling is required.
APQP is performed using Collaborative Product (Process) Development
(CPD). Each CFT discipline communicates with their counterparts on
items which can impact quality, cost or delivery, either positively or
negatively. Special Characteristics are also communicated between each
CFT discipline. The earlier a product or process problem can be found,
the less expensive and work intensive it will be to fix it. Working
concurrently per the project timeline, the team completes the Plan and
Design activity:
Product Engineering (PDE) addresses Product Design and
Process and / or Manufacturing Engineering (ME) addresses the
Process Design and Development
Each section has inputs, outputs and management gateway reviews.
Gateways are timed to coincide with key decisions impacting project
Quality, Cost or Delivery.
How is APQP related to PPAP?
PPAP Level Selection
Product Part Approval Process (PPAP) highlights the proof or evidence
collected through APQP. Validated results from the first trial run
supports the assertion that quality of delivery is expected. The trial run
must represent the production environment, with correct tools,
machines, processes, personnel and conditions that may affect part
PPAP and APQP cannot be separated, as PPAP documents are the result
of APQP. PPAP provides evidence that APQP has been successfully
performed. Poor performance in a PPAP or a rejected sample can be
attributed to poor APQP. Deliverables in PPAP are extensions of APQP
Planning. The PPAP elements are listed below, note that many are the
same as APQP tools or are the output results of APQP tools:
Part Submission Warrant (PSW)
Design Records
Engineering Change Documents
Customer Engineering Approval
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 are APQP, NPI and DFSS Related
APQP, NPI, Design for Six Sigma (DFSS) and other Product
Development Processes share goals and development tools. Examples
of these tools can be found in our Core Competencies. APQP is often
the Product Development Process that is used as a default process to
support supplier engagement. DFSS is a highly focused effort reserved
for high value requirements or specifications. APQP is broader in scope
than DFSS and scalable to perceived risk each supplier, design or
process poses on program success.
Example of APQP, NPI and DFSS Relationship
An Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) is preparing a new end user
product. The product will follow the OEM NPI. Several of the subsystems
and components require supplier engagement to assure that their
expertise is included in product design. APQP will be used to collaborate
with the suppliers.
DFSS will focus on key features that are highly valuable and quite
different than past products. A Six Sigma Black Belt is assigned to follow
these features across all communications channels and groups. The
tools used in each of these endeavors are the same. The tools may be
used at differing utilization levels at the Black Belt’s discretion.
Learn More About Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)
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