With a shared desire to satisfy customers, as well as ensure consistency and dependability in their products, leaders in the automotive industry established the Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) concept as a means of instituting an upfront approach for quality standardization.

APQP is a guide for development and production as well as a standardized method of sharing information among stakeholders. As initial development began in the 1980s and continued through the creation of formalized and shared APQP standards in the 1990s and updates in the 2000s, automotive industry representatives developed a very rigorous approach for validating the production of a part before its released into ongoing production.

The automotive industry released QS-9000 (the international equivalent is ISO 16949) to govern the APQP process and define the details of the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP). This is a key component of the broader APQP workflow. Let’s take a closer look at what makes this quality control framework so valuable and important.

Adherence to these important regulations requires diligence and continued observation of the latest quality standards. DISCUS offers comprehensive solutions to ensure APQP and PPAP compliance. With drag-and-drop simplicity and an easy-to-navigate interface, DISCUS solutions enable today’s automotive leaders to focus on driving productivity with the assurance of QS-9000 compliance.

Understanding the PPAP Process

The PPAP is a mandatory requirement for the vast majority of automotive suppliers. It establishes confidence in those suppliers on the part of automotive companies in terms of their competence and ability to consistently produce parts that meet exacting specifications. In addition, PPAP is intended to prove that the supplier’s processes can produce products that meet those requirements during the actual production.

PPAP specifically deals with determining and ensuring that the customer’s entire engineering criteria, design records, and specification requirements are properly understood. The strict regulatory environment in the automotive industry, along with the relatively high-cost final products and the importance of reliability and safety in such offerings, necessitates such a process.

The overall PPAP effort includes many steps, such as mapping the process, performing failure analyses, and a variety of other considerations. In addition, the formal PPAP submission consists of many forms such as control plans, failure mode and effects analysis, part submission warrants, and more. The collection of documentation that stems from this work is called the PPAP package. This work must be formally approved by qualified representatives from both the supplier and the customer business.

Due to these stringent requirements, many suppliers consider PPAP to be very demanding and laborious. Success in completing PPAP requires careful decision-making and close attention to detail, both in accomplishing tasks and accurately completing and submitting the associated documentation.

The efficiency of a solution tailor-made to the needs of the manufacturer is one advantage of DISCUS PPAP software. Time and resources once dedicated to assembling the various components and data to ensure regulation can be freed to pursue productivity outcomes.

PPAP protocols are critical for the success of any manufacturer – but the process itself doesn’t need to burden a workforce unnecessarily.

Why the PPAP Process is so important

From an operational standpoint, the PPAP process is the industry standard when it comes to the quality and consistency of parts produced. The largest North American original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) in the automotive field depend on PPAP to enable a streamlined parts approval process that reduces delays while emphasizing dependability.

It is also vital to recognize that every new part has to pass through the PPAP process, making full compliance with the many workflows and documentation needs vital for success. Additionally, some OEMs may have even stricter requirements around testing and reporting incorporated into contracts, requiring even more attention to be paid to compliance needs.

In a more practical sense, it’s clear that the PPAP process is crucial for any business that wants to establish or strengthen successful relationships with automotive industry OEMs. When parts and processes receive approval via the PPAP workflow, it’s an explicit sign of quality in each individual part and the broader ability of the supplier to meet production quotas and ensure orders are filled according to schedule.

Everything else aside, from the reasons why PPAP was originally developed to its broad acceptance in the industry, it is crucial for suppliers to closely adhere to PPAP requirements and workflows from financial and operational perspectives. If parts regularly aren’t approved or errors and missing information are frequently discovered in documentation, suppliers can quickly find themselves without any customers.

Strategies to make PPAP more efficient

The demands of PPAP, from the control plan and effects analysis to the eventual PPAP submission process, can place significant strain on suppliers. Among these many activities, identifying and documenting part characteristics is especially burdensome. Incorporating a solution designed specifically for that task can save suppliers significant time while supporting even more accurate outcomes.

DISCUS Software provides advanced solutions for characteristic management that optimize the required investigation and analysis for each and every part that must pass through the PPAP process. Our core competency is managing a part’s Technical Data Package (TDP) at a characteristic level of detail.

Users can quickly and consistently identify necessary features and characteristics through an intuitive, easy-to-use interface. In turn, those identification efforts empower the simplified creation of downstream artifacts for manufacturing and quality assurance. That includes, but is not limited to, needs such as First Article Inspections, In-Process Inspection Plans, Manufacturing Process Plans, and Producibility Analyses.

The DISCUS Software solution can be applied to both 2D drawings and 3D CAD models, offering support for a wide variety of characteristic management needs. If your company is required to carefully and completely identify part characteristics due to agreements with customers, regulatory requirements, or for a variety of other reasons, DISCUS has the tools to support that key need.

The productivity solutions DISCUS offers don’t stand alone. This complete solution offers individualized and timely customer and technical support to ensure your business can extract the maximum value — including time savings, increased accuracy, and more — from this software.

Impress your employers and customers today by using an advanced PPAP software tool. To learn more about applying DISCUS to the PPAP process, get in touch with us today.