Advanced Product Quality Planning
Advanced product quality planning (or APQP) is a set of guidelines that were developed by the ‘Big 3’ automotive companies in the USA and designed to produce a Product Quality Plan that will meet the requirements of ISO/TS 16949.
It is promoted by AIAG, the Automotive Industry Action Group (a non-profit association of automotive companies founded in 1982) for use by its members and their suppliers and any others who may find it useful, and they have published a book which is now in its 2nd edition.
It is a defined process for making sure that quality is designed into products developed by the ‘Big 3’ automotive companies in the USA for their own use and by their suppliers.. Tier 1 suppliers are typically required to follow APQP procedures and techniques and are also typically required to be audited and registered to ISO/TS 16949. This methodology is now being used in other manufacturing sectors as well. According to the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG – a non-profit association of automotive companies founded in 1982), the purpose of APQP is “to produce a product quality plan which will support development of a product or service that will satisfy the customer.”
APQP is based on a Plan-Do-Check-Act cycle and it emphasises:
- Up-front quality planning (the first 3 steps of the cycle)
- The act of implementation (the fourth step)
APQP consists of five phases, each with specified inputs and outputs:
- Plan and Define Program
- Product Design and Development Verification
- Process Design and Development Verification
- Product and Process Validation from Pilot Production
- Post Launch Feedback, Assessment & Corrective Action
FMEA (Failure Mode & Effects Analysis) is part of APQP and there is a separate manual describing this. Alos a section of this website explains more about FMEAs.
PPAP (Production Part Approval Process) is part of APQP and there is a separate manual describing this.
MSA (Measurement Systems Analysis) is part of APQP and there is a separate manual describing this.
SPC (Statistical Process Control) is part of APQP and there is a separate manual describing this.
APQP calls for a control plan to be in place and gives templates for suitable formats. A control plan is a written description of the system for controlling parts and processes, so as to minimise variation in manufacture and meet customer requirements. For each step it shows what the product characteristics are and their tolerance, how they are to be measured, the sample size and frequency , the control method and the reaction plan, i.e. what to do if parts are outside specification.
APQP is not just for the motor industry. It has many aspects that can be used or adapted for use in other industries. APQP should be integrated into your NPD process, be it Stage-Gate® or whatever. It should not be a separate stand-alone process that lives outside your NPD process.
We can help you to devise an integrated NPD process that includes relevant aspects of APQP and suits your company. Please contact us.