apqp process

What is APQP Process in Quality Control?

If you work in the automotive industry, you might be familiar with APQP, one of the most important tools of the IATF 16949:2016 standard for quality control. However, what exactly is APQP, and why is it crucial for maintaining quality? This article will explain the concept of APQP, its workings, and its benefits for product and process design and development.

What is APQP?

APQP is an acronym that stands for Advanced Product Quality Planning. It’s a structured approach to designing and developing products and processes that meet customer needs and expectations. APQP is one of the five core tools outlined in the IATF 16949:2016 standard, the international quality management system used in the automotive industry. Automotive manufacturers and suppliers rely on APQP to ensure quality and performance through effective planning.

What are the 5 phases of APQP?

APQP consists of five phases, each with inputs, outputs, and activities. 

1. Plan and Define Program

During the initial phase of product development, it is important to define the scope, objectives, and requirements by considering the voice of the customer and market research. This process helps set design goals, reliability and quality standards and creates a preliminary bill of material, process flow chart, and product quality assurance plan. These outputs are crucial in shaping the development process and ensuring the final product meets the desired quality standards.

2. Product Design and Development: 

In this phase, the design features and specifications of the product are developed based on the outcomes of the previous phase. The deliverables of this phase include Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA), Design for Manufacturability (DFM) analysis, drawings and prototypes, material specifications, design reviews and verifications, and testing equipment requirements. 

3. Process Design and Development: 

The process design and development phase aims to create the necessary process steps and parameters to produce a product. This is based on the results obtained from the previous phase. The outputs of this phase include a process flow chart, process FMEA, process instructions, quality system review, and preliminary control plan.

4. Product and Process Validation

In this phase, the product and process are tested and verified using the outputs from the previous phase. The key deliverables of this phase are a pilot production run, results of testing and inspection, evaluation and analysis of the results, and the production part approval process (PPAP).

5. Feedback, Assessment, and Corrective Action

During this phase, the focus is gathering and analysing customer feedback and the production process. Based on the results of the previous phase, corrective actions are implemented to enhance the product and the process. The outputs of this phase include a survey to measure customer satisfaction, data on warranties and quality, a study on process capability, and lessons learned.

The primary goal of APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning) is to ensure quality and minimize defects by detecting and addressing potential risks and issues early on in the product design and process development phases. APQP also fosters effective communication and collaboration among all stakeholders involved in the product life cycle, including customers, suppliers, engineers, managers, and operators. With APQP, businesses can achieve high-quality products with fewer issues and delays, leading to greater customer satisfaction and success.

What are the benefits of APQP?

The benefits of APQP are:

  • Improved customer satisfaction and loyalty by delivering products that meet or exceed their expectations and requirements.
  • Reduced costs and wastes by preventing defects and failures and optimizing the product and the process performance.
  • Increased efficiency and effectiveness by streamlining the product and the process development and reducing the time to market.
  • Enhanced innovation and competitiveness by fostering a culture of continuous improvement and learning.

Conclusion: What is APQP? 

APQP is a crucial tool for the automotive industry that helps ensure quality and performance through effective planning. Following its five phases, businesses can achieve high-quality products with fewer issues and delays. 

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