Product Quality Planning is a structured method of defining and establishing the steps necessary to ensure that a product satisfies the customer. APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning) involves 75% up front planning and 25% implementation through production, to determine customer satisfaction and continuous improvement.

Although APQP is generally associated with the automotive industry, the quality planning processes in APQP can be applicable within all industries. The Quality-One APQP approach is considered to be Best-in-Class, because it is easily communicated to design teams and suppliers.

Q-1 has modified and developed the APQP process for various industries. Our customized approach scales the APQP effort to your business type, size, and volume. We will walk you through, step by step, transferring APQP knowledge to your team through our professional Training and Facilitation services.

Why is APQP Used?

APQP facilitates communication between the supplier and the customer to clarify requirements that translate into more detailed specifications. Examples of APQP in action:

  • Product design activities communicating special characteristics to the process design activity, prior to design release, linking the DFMEA to PFMEA.
  • Plan, acquire and install appropriate process equipment and tooling based on design tolerances provided by the customer. – CPPD (Collaborative Product Process Design)
  • Assembly personnel communicating suggestions on better ways to assemble a product prior to the completion of the design of the product. – DFA/M (Design for Assembly and Manufacturing)
  • Manufacturing or Process Engineering establishing adequate Quality Controls for features of a product or parameters of a process, which still risk potential failure. – Control Plan Methodology
  • Performing Stability and Capability studies on special characteristics to understand the variation present and predict future performance. – SPC (Statistical Process Control and Process Capability)

The first attempt of APQP is to ensure Quality through the use of work practices, tools, and analytical techniques. The second attempt is to develop Quality controls if discovered risks have not been adequately mitigated. All activities within the APQP process must occur prior to the start of manufacturing or process start-up.

How Does APQP Work?

APQP is comprised of one pre-planning stage and five concurrent, collaborative sections. This process is never ending and is often illustrated with the Plan, Do, Study, Act Cycle. Each section has analytical techniques and tools used to discover risk and weakness. APQP team members are cross functional in nature, able to review each risk, and take actions to reduce or eliminate the potential failure.

Preliminary details required to begin Product Quality Planning are collected by a core team prior to project kick-off. This process is typically short and does not involve any design effort. Aspects of Pre-Planning include; scope of the project, team size and capability, methods for concern resolution, general rules, team structure, space and resources required, and timing of the project.

Working concurrently per the project timeline, the Project Management team completes the Plan and Design activity; Product Engineering addresses Product Design and Development; Process and/or Manufacturing Engineering completes the Process Design Development. The tools selected during the Product Assurance Plan are assigned and used within or collaboratively between sections. FMEA (Failure Mode and effects Analysis) provides a good example of a crossover or collaborative tool. Five Sections of APQP:

  1. Plan and Define
  2. Product Design and Development
  3. Process Design and Development
  4. Product and Process Validation
  5. Feedback, Assessment and Corrective Action

Each section has inputs, outputs and gateway reviews with management. Gateways are timed to coincide with key decisions impacting project Quality, Cost or Delivery. APQP culminates in a sample submission as evidence that the product quality, as planned, was achieved. This activity is called PPAP (Product Part Approval Process). PPAP highlights the proof or evidence collected through APQP and validated with results from the first trial run. The trial run cannot be a prototype. This trial must represent the production environment, with correct tools, machines, processes, personnel and conditions that may affect part quality.

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.

How are APQP, NPI and DFSS Related?

APQP, NPI, DFSS (Design for Six Sigma)and other Product Development Processes share goals and potentially the same development tools. Examples of these tools can be found in our Development Core Competencies. APQP is a Product Development Process designed to stand alone as a default process or support supplier engagement of a NPI activity. DFSS is a highly focused effort reserved for high value requirements or specifications when a great deal of visibility is required for success. APQP is broader in scope and scalable to the risk each supplier, design, process, or impact poses on program success.

How Can I Learn More About APQP?

APQP is growing in use and scope across diverse industries. It is no longer an automotive specific process, as non-automotive industries using APQP currently out number automotive usage. Q-1 has developed an approach to determine the level of applicability of APQP, based on potential value. We examine your current methods combining the best with APQP, getting buy-in from your organization and achieving immediate benefits.