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Introduction to 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 1980s. 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 OEMs collectively created the APQP process in 1994 and then later updated in
2008. APQP is intended to aggregate the common planning activities all automotive OEMs
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 ISO / TS16949. There are five basic Core Tools detailed in separate guideline
handbooks, including Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP). The other Core Tools

Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)

Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA)
Statistical Process Control (SPC)
Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)

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.
APQP - Concurrent Process

Why Apply 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 many
Promote early identification of change
o Intentional (what is being changed on purpose to bring value to the customer)
o Incidental (environments, customer usage, degradation and interfaces)
Avoid late changes (post release) by anticipating failure and preventing it
o 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 Assembly and Manufacturability (DFA/M)
Lower cost solutions selected earlier in the process
Legacy capture and reuse, advancement of Tribal Knowledge and standard work
creation and utilization
Late Failure Mode Discovery

Early Failure Mode Discovery

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 Apply 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:

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 Design for Assembly
(DFA) and Design for Manufacturability (DFM), 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 engineers 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

o Market research
o Historical issues
o 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 Timeline
Translate percentage of new content into Product and Process Assumptions
Product design activities communicating special characteristics or key characteristics
to the process design activity, prior to design release
o 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 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 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 Development

Process and / or Manufacturing Engineering (ME) addresses the Process Design and

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?

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 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. 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, New Product Introduction (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 Belts discretion.