All You Need to Know About Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)

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By The Pro QC Quality Assurance Team

Quality and efficiency in the automotive supply chain – Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)

The automotive supply chain is extremely complex and dynamic. PPAP (Production Part Approval Process) is an industry-standard that drives down nonconformances and delays.

Read this article for an understanding of PPAP and Pro QC’s solutions.


Objective of PPAP

PPAP is meant to standardize automotive product design and manufacturing. A supplier embarks on this process to demonstrate they can consistently produce the part according to specification at the agreed-upon rate of production. Other objectives of the process include optimizing supplier-client communications, identifying problems early, and establishing a framework for monitoring and controlling manufacturer and supplier changes.

An automotive parts supplier follows the PPAP guideline to ensure they meet the design and product specifications of the customer. A PPAP submission is required when a customer asks for it.

Some language and procedures in PPAP are very specialized and industry-specific. But engineers and quality professionals will recognize the underlying concepts of process validation, change management, standardization, and continuous improvement.

Where does PPAP fit in automotive quality?

A group of American carmakers formed the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) in the 1980s. Their mission is “driving down costs and complexity from the automotive supply chain.”

In the 1980s AIAG developed a set of automotive industry project management standards called Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP). PPAP is the foremost process in this set of standards. It sits alongside other essential components of a product launch or change such as failure mode effects analysis, design reviews, and prototyping.

Among these, PPAP is a prominent standard. Its effectiveness has led other industries, including aerospace, to adopt it too. The AIAG publishes the PPAP Manual and the current edition was released in 2006.

The PPAP Manual is the definitive guide to automotive supplier management. The manual sets forth all aspects of a PPAP submission, which are broken down into elements and levels.

Elements of a PPAP Submission

A part supplier submits a PPAP to show the customer that they have refined their design and production capabilities to satisfy the customer’s requirements. Each element serves as evidence and support. The supplier completes the following 18 PPAP elements as applicable:

  • Design Records: Including drawings technical specifications
  • Authorized Engineering Change (note) Documents: Describing design changes
  • Engineering Approval: Approval from the production trial in the customer’s plant
  • Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (DFMEA): Examines part failure likelihood and impact
  • Process Flow Diagram: Maps the entire manufacturing process from beginning to end
  • Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (PFMEA): A systematic analysis of a new or revised process to avoid or resolve problems
  • Control Plan: A written plan for controlling production parts and processes
  • Measurement System Analysis Studies: A thorough assessment of variation in the measurement system
  • Dimensional Results: Correlates actual part measurements with drawings
  • Records of Material/Performance Tests: A summary of all tests on the part
  • Initial Process Studies: Statistical process control charts to demonstrate control of variability in production
  • Qualified Laboratory Documentation: Includes the certifications of all contributing testing facilities
  • Appearance Approval Report: Certifies the part meets physical and design requirements
  • Sample Production Parts: Parts from the initial production run
  • Master Sample: A part endorsed by supplier and customer
  • Checking Aids: A list, with supporting documentation, of the tools used for checking parts
  • Customer-Specific Requirements: Checklists where the supplier shows they fulfilled any customer-specific requirements
  • Part Submission Warrant: A summary of the full PPAP submission

Some customers require additional elements beyond these 18, such as an initial sample inspection report and others. A supplier must complete every applicable element regardless of the level (see below) of the submission.

Levels of a PPAP Submission

The customer selects the PPAP level based on how much evidence and detail they require in the submission.

  • Level 1: Part Submission Warrant (PSW) only
  • Level 2: PSW with product samples and limited supporting data
  • Level 3: PSW with product samples and complete supporting data
  • Level 4: PSW and other requirements as defined by the customer
  • Level 5: PSW with product samples and complete supporting data available for review at the supplier’s manufacturing location

As you can see, meeting a Level 5 submission is a more rigorous process than meeting a Level 1 submission. A supplier will want to establish a robust, mature quality system and gain access to PPAP expertise to be able to meet the customer-specified level.

Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) Addresses These Specific Challenges

  • The part approval process can vary drastically between customers. PPAP provides a shared understanding of what is required to obtain part approval. It standardizes the process.
  • A change to the part design or process requires customer approval. PPAP standardizes this approval process.
  • Part performance and other characteristics can vary once production is underway. PPAP ensures part submissions have enough data to measure and control this. Detailed records of part performance at launch allow for assessment of drift.
  • Part design is sometimes convoluted. PPAP details design records to ensure traceability of part design status to the origin.
  • Changes to a part or process can have unintended effects on the next level assembly or process. PPAP controls these changes, subjecting each one to an approval outlet to ensure conformance.

Pro QC’s PPAP Consulting Services

The PPAP is lengthy and detailed. Each PPAP submission is different, and each one is the result of a negotiation between supplier and customer to determine how to satisfy each element of the submission at the specified level.

Most clients source globally and have to manage multiple PPAP projects simultaneously. Pro QC’s PPAP program and associated automotive industry supplier management services cut through the complexity of this process to achieve a lasting transformation of the supply chain.

Pro QC’s PPAP Service Process

Our auditor will provide an on-site gap analysis of the PPAP process. We go through the 18 elements of the PPAP and identify nonconformances. According to the results found during the gap analysis, we help the factory meet compliance with PPAP and implement sustainable changes.

Last Word

Based on your needs, we will partner with you in the PPAP, with the outcome of driving down defects and delays and establishing a framework for supply chain and product development quality.

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