Introduction to APQP
What Is APQP
Why Implement APQP
When To Apply APQP
How To Implement APQP
Introduction To APQP
Complex products and supply chains present numerous possibilities for failure, particularly as 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 exists in many forms, procedures and practices. Originally referred to as Advanced Quality Planning (AQP), APQP is used
by progressive companies to assure quality and performance of new and updated products and processes 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 and updated 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 and updated products and processes to successful validation and drive continuous improvement in collaboration with the OEM.
There are numerous tools and techniques described within APQP. Each tool has potential value when applied in the correct timing and with correct robustness. 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:
What Is APQP
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.
Why Implement 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
A list of APQP benefits are:
- Directing resources by defining the vital few items from the trivial many
- Promote early identification of change
- Intentional (what is being changed on purpose to bring value to the customer)
- Incidental (environments, customer usage, degradation and interfaces)
- 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
- 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
When To Apply 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 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
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. Each section of APQP depends on risk information that has previously been discovered from previous programs and previous APQP sections. The information sharing assures a flow of logical risk discovery
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.
Inputs into Section 1
Outputs of Section 1 (Inputs to Section 2):
- 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
- Design Goals
- Reliability and Quality Goals
- Preliminary Bill of Material (BOM)
- Preliminary Process Flow
- Preliminary list of Special Characteristics
- Product Assurance Plan
- Gateway approval
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).
Outputs of Section 2 (Inputs to Section 3):
- 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
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.
Outputs of Section 3 (Inputs to Section 4):
- 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
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.
Outputs of Section 4 (Inputs to Section 5):
- 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
Section 5: Feedback Assessment and Corrective Action
Section 5 explores learnings from the ongoing manufacturing process, RPN/risk reduction, corrective actions (both internal and external), Eight Disciplines of Problem Solving (8D) and the capture of
information pertinent for future use in derivations of current products and introduction of new products using known legacy.
Outputs of Section 5 (Inputs into Future Programs):
- Reduced Variation
- Improved Customer Satisfaction
- Improved Delivery Performance
- Effective Use of Lessons Learned
APQP Implementation requires adherence to the requirements of each section. Training, procedural
implementation and systems and tools integration need to be considered when attaining the APQP process, product development and feedback loops.