While doing product development, ensuring quality is the bedrock upon which success is built. Advanced Product Quality Planning, or APQP, stands as a sentinel at the gates of product excellence.
With a meticulous framework, a well-defined process, and unwavering principles, APQP is the compass that guides manufacturers and innovators towards the creation of not just good products, but exceptional ones.
It is a quality management system(QMS) that ensures customer satisfaction and product conformity.
This process has been used in various industries, including the automotive industry.
This blog post will discuss what APQP is and its benefits and methods. We will also go through different topics, such as principles, continuous improvement, quality goals, preliminary bill measurement methods, etc., so you can understand how it works!
What is APQP?
It is a comprehensive process that helps companies ensure that their products meet customer and regulatory requirements.
The planning starts with the customer’s requirements and works backward through the product development process, identifying potential quality problems and solutions.
It can be an integral part of a QMS. It is required by the OEM to validate that suppliers have a process in place to deliver products with zero defects or near-zero defects. This helps companies reduce waste and improve customer satisfaction while increasing profits!
The process includes the following steps:
1. Process Design: In this step, the process is designed, and the steps used to manufacture the product are identified.
2. Process Validation: This step is validated to ensure that it meets the customer’s requirements.
3. Process Quality: In this step, the quality of the process is ensured by using measurement methods and corrective actions.
4. Manufacturing Process: The manufacturing process is created in this step, and the steps are refined as necessary.
5. Product and Process Validation: The product is validated to ensure that it meets the customer’s requirements in the Product and Process Validation step.
APQP process flow chart
The process flow chart is a graphical representation of the APQP process. It shows the relationships between the various steps in the process and what inputs and outputs are associated with each step.
Following is a sample graphical representation.
When to implement APQP?
Advanced Product Quality Planning is an all-inclusive foundation designed to oversee product quality, reduce risks, and improve efficiency in product development processes.
Determining the ideal moment to implement it involves assessing the specific needs of each product development process.
In order to put use APQP process and tools effectively, they must be implemented at specific stages of the product development lifecycle. The stages are as follows.
1. Preliminary Phase
Begin with APQP as soon as the need for a new product or significant product changes are identified. In the initiation phase, set objectives and engage cross-functional teams to align on project goals.
2. Design and planning phase
During product design and planning, it becomes a guiding force. Create detailed quality plans, identify potential risks, and establish key milestones for the project.
3. Prototype and testing phase
This is the phase to transition from theory to practice. APQP helps define validation plans, including prototype testing, to ensure product design meets quality standards.
4. Production and process validation phase
Implement control plans and process validation to maintain product quality and minimize variations in the manufacturing process.
5. Product launch phase
Advanced product quality planning supports a smooth product launch by monitoring key performance indicators and addressing any issues that arise before full-scale production.
6. Post – Launch and continuous improvement
It doesn’t end with the product launch. Continuously assess product quality and customer feedback. Implement corrective actions and improvements as needed to maintain and enhance quality.
Emerging in the 1980s, APQP is a methodical approach employed for product development and quality management.
Originating from major American automotive giants such as General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler, it was forged to guarantee that suppliers could adhere to the rigorous quality benchmarks set by the automotive sector.
In the years that followed, the principles of APQP have transcended their automotive origins and are now widely adopted across diverse industries, solidifying their status as a favored technique for product innovation, quality assurance, and the effective management of risks in manufacturing and engineering processes.
APQP and Customer Satisfaction
APQP aims to ensure customer satisfaction by delivering high-quality products that meet or exceed customer expectations.
It is a crucial element of a QMS and is commonly integrated into ensuring that product design requirements are met before manufacturing begins.
It provides the framework for developing a QMS, which integrates all activities in an organization with processes and procedures designed to meet customer needs while controlling costs, maximizing productivity, and ensuring compliance with regulatory standards.
APQP principles and quality goals
APQP ensures that the products released into the market are of high quality. It is a collaborative effort between the customer and the supplier and helps ensure that the customer’s needs are met.
Identifying and addressing potential problems early helps improve the product’s quality.
One of the main goals is to achieve customer satisfaction.
Another key goal is to ensure that the products meet the requirements specified by the customer.
A final goal is to improve the overall product quality of products continuously.
APQP Five Core Tools
The APQP Five Core Tools are a set of tools used to help improve the quality of the product. The tools are:
- FMEA: Failure Mode and Effects Analysis
- PFMEA: Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis
- Control Plans
- PPAP: Production Part Approval Process
- APQP: Advanced Product Quality Planning
Failure Mode and Effects Analysis is a tool to help identify potential problems with the product. The APQP process, as defined by ISO/TS 16949:2009 / AS 46000 -2017, requires that all team members participate in this activity.
Each individual will be responsible for identifying failure modes in their area. The APQP team leader will then collate all of the individual’s results to create a list of potential problems for the product.
Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis is another tool used within APQP, as defined by ISO/TS 16949:2009 / AS 46000 -2017. This tool identifies potential failures in the production process.
The team will use this tool to identify potential problems with the manufacturing process and how they could impact the quality of the product.
Control Plans are a tool used to help ensure that the product meets the customer’s requirements. The control plan will specify the methods used to measure and track the quality of the product.
Production Part Approval Process is a tool to ensure that parts are manufactured to meet customer requirements.
This process involves submitting a sample of the part to the customer for approval. Once the customer has approved the part, companies can use it in production.
Quality Management Systems
QMS is a system used to ensure that the quality of the product meets the customer’s requirements. The QMS will typically include the following:
Policies and Procedures: The policies and procedures of the QMS should be documented and accessible to all employees.
- Quality Manual: The quality manual should be a comprehensive guide to the QMS and include all policies and procedures.
- Document Control: Documents related to the quality of the product should be controlled and tracked.
- Training: Employees should be trained on the requirements of the QMS.
- Auditing: The QMS should be audited regularly to ensure effectiveness.
APQP Measurements Methods/Product Development Process
Processes include the following:
- Customer satisfaction
- Product development
Each has specific process instructions and process flow diagram taken to ensure quality. In addition, APQP tracks product development design changes, reviews, prototype testing, and supplier performance.
It monitors process capability, variation, and product conformity in manufacturing. All of these measurements are important to maintain high-quality standards for products.
It’s also important to note that it is a cyclical process constantly being refined and improved. This continual improvement leads to increased quality and customer experience over time.
Corrective Actions and Continuous Improvement
Implement the APQP process with quantitative evidence to achieve quality, on-time delivery targets, and customer expectation fulfillment.
- Maintained plan throughout the development process by using corrective actions to return metric values within authorized limits.
- Completed APQP Quality Goals Preliminary Bill identifying total defects, rework, scrap, rejects, and customer returns for a given period.
- Regularly measured product characteristics to validate the ongoing manufacturing process and identify necessary corrective actions.
- Continuously improved APQP process through data analysis and identification of root causes.
- Identified product quality problems and provided a solution to quality program management by creating a corrective action plan following APQP guidelines.
- Consistently meets APQP goals on time while coaching the team through the process.
- Continuously worked with quality program managers to implement APQP across the manufacturing plant.
Process Quality Control/Assurance
Process Quality Control/Assurance (PQC/A) is critical in manufacturing and producing quality products. PQC/A is the methodology by which an organization can ensure that its manufacturing and production processes consistently deliver quality products.
It also allows for the early detection and correction of defects, thus preventing the shipment of non-conforming products to customers.
The goal of PQC/A is to ensure that products meet customer needs and are consistent in terms of quality. To achieve this, an organization must have a well-defined manufacturing and production process and a rigorous Quality Management System (QMS). The QMS should include design, validation, manufacturing, and continual improvement processes.
PQC/A is implemented through process design documents, validation, and control plans. These documents ensure that the manufacturing and production processes produce good products.
They also provide a roadmap for ensuring that products meet customer requirements and specifications.
What is the history of APQP?
In 1982, American Chrysler, Ford, and General Motors created the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) to ensure suppliers had good quality requirements. In 1994, this was changed into a set of guidelines called QS-9000. This is known as APQP.
What are the inputs of APQP?
Its inputs are customer feedback, information about similar products, and the company’s goals, and it turns them into a plan. The plan includes targets for design and reliability, details about how to make the product, and early product features.
What is APQP in the supply chain?
This is a way of managing projects that includes the suppliers. All the data about the project and product will be organized, managed, and checked to ensure uniform documentation for the product.
What are the key tools or methodologies commonly used in APQP?
Some commonly used tools and methodologies include Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Control Plans, Process Capability Studies, and the 8 Disciplines (8D) problem-solving approach. These tools aid in risk assessment, quality control, and problem resolution.
Can APQP be applied in industries other than automotive, where it originated?
Yes, APQP principles are versatile and have been adopted across various industries, including aerospace, healthcare, and manufacturing. The fundamental concepts of risk assessment, quality planning, and continuous improvement are universally applicable.
How does APQP support continuous improvement throughout the product’s lifecycle?
It promotes a culture of continuous improvement by regularly assessing product quality, gathering feedback, and making necessary adjustments. This iterative process ensures that the product evolves to meet changing requirements and customer expectations.
Advanced Product Quality Planning is a standard process used in product development, and it helps ensure customer satisfaction by reducing the risk of defects and maximizing quality.
The process consists of four phases: Process Design, Process Validation, Product Quality Planning Principles, and Continuous Improvement.
It helps companies achieve their quality standards through ongoing improvement.
Thank you for reading this post! We hope you have found it informative and valuable!