Introduction to APQP – Level 2

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 1980’s. 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 OEM’s collectively created the APQP process in 1994 and then later updated in 2008. APQP is intended to aggregate the common planning activities all automotive OEM’s 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 IATF 16949. T

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 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.

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
  • Intentional (what is being changed on purpose to bring value to the customer)
  • Incidental (environments, customer usage, degradation and interfaces)
  • Avoid late changes (post release) by anticipating failure and preventing it
  • 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 Manufacturing and Assembly (DFM/A)
  • Lower cost solutions selected earlier in the process
  • Legacy capture and reuse, advancement of Tribal Knowledge and standard work creation and utilization.

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 act 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.

Learn more about APQP

Plus Point Improvement Performance offers quality and reliability, support for product and process development through consulting, training and project support.

Plus Point Improvement Performance provides knowledge, guidance and direction in quality and reliability activities, tailored to your unique needs.

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