APQP: Advanced Product Quality Planning

APQP - Advanced Product Quality Planning

What is APQP? APQP is an acronym for “Advanced Product Quality Planning “. It is a Quality Planning Management tool. APQP is a framework of procedure or technique to develop a new product or service.

APQP was firstly developed in the 1980s to build effective quality planning principles
automotive manufacturers and suppliers. It is mainly utilized in the automotive industry and
was initially adopted by General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and their respective suppliers.

The following GIF is about welding car bodies by robots in the body shop. This is an excellent outcome of APQP. APQP helps to

  • Design car bodies considering customer requirements and safety parameters,
  • Define welding process parameters,
  • Programming robots for error-free welding,

Later these design parameters are transferred, verified, and validated for the quality welding process. Programming robots for accurate and precise welding is also part of APQP (welding quality planning)

What is APQP Process?

It is mainly used for the following actions:

APQP or Advanced Product Quality Planning is a well-organized set of Processes to design,
develop, implement and improve product with utmost quality plans to fulfill customer’s needs.
APQP process helps to reduce the product development time from concept to product launch in the market.

  1. Identify ways to improve new product and process quality
  2. Check and track product (QA) quality assurance and (QC) quality control tasks
  3. Perform validation and verification of new product and new processes
  4. Reduce product development cycle time by advanced planning
  5. Develop way of communication among research & development, product design team,
    manufacturing engineering team, quality engineering team, suppliers and other
  6. Ensure customer requirements and demand
  7. Ensuring identification of failure mode in product and process design
  8. Includes the total integration of quality tools for smooth execution of product
    development projects.

Eg. APQP helps to define the paint specification and also painting process parameters. APQP helps to verify and validate the painting process.

Major elements of APQP Process:

Understand Customer’s Requirement:

Customer’s reviews are the best way to modify and give shape to your product quality.

Design manufacturing Process Capability:

Process capability is used in the manufacturing/automotive industry to measure how
well a process is stable to deliver the quality products/parts at consistent rate.

Failure mode and it’s effect analysis (FMEA):

Failure mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) is a very popular tool in the automotive, aviation and
aerospace Industry. FMEA tool helps to identify failure modes in the product design, Process
well in advance so preventive actions are initiated to eliminate failure modes. FMEA is nothing
but a risk management tool.

Verification and Validation:

Verification and Validation are termed as independent procedures. These are used
together to check if product, service or system satisfies the design/customer requirements or not.

Validation refers to the assurance of the product, service and system that meet the
customer’s requirements . It is also called an external process. On the other hand,
Verification refers to the evaluation of product ,service and system to fulfil customer’s
needs and also called an internal process.

What is the purpose of APQP?

The purpose or benefit of APQP can produce a good quality product.
Major benefits are as follows:

  1. APQP early planning process can ensure good quality.
  2. It directly serves the customer’s requirements.
  3. Potential and focused issues can be noticed at an early stage of product design by applying APQP.
  4. APQP helps to identify failure mode in design or process before product launch. This helps to reduce or eliminate warranty costs or customer complaints.
  5. Elimination of waste and potential warranty cost.

What are the 5 Phases of APQP?

The 5 Phases of APQP which are listed below:

1. Plan and Define Program (Planning Phase)

2. Product Design & Development Verification

3. Process Design and Development Verification

4. Product and Process Validation

5. Launch, Serial Production, and corrective/preventive action

apqp phases

Phases of APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning)
APQP Phases

Let’s get more into this and know the details-

1.Plan and Define Program (Planning Phase)

This phase of APQP deals with a prior demand of customers regarding upcoming products or
existing one’s. It is not only about the design of any new product or re-design of already existing product line (eg. facelift of existing car/ SUV)

Planning and Program phase, customers need an expectation into the concept design specification. Following input/task conducted in the planning phase of APQP.

Input & Output of Plan and define phase

Input / TaskOutput
1. Market Research and Trend1.1 Consumer/customers need and demand
1.2 Competitors market share
1.3 Discount & Offer details of competitors
2. Competitor product benchmarking2.1 Performance benchmarking of competitor product
2.2 External and internal benchmarking
2.3 Failure/Warranty Trends of competitor product
3. Customer Voice 3.1 Customer wants, needs, desire
3.2 Consumer behavior trend
3.3 Customer opinion about competitor product & service
3.4 Customer feedback about own product & service (legacy and historical issues)
4. Business Strategic Plan4.1 Capital investment and ROI (Return on investment) KPI.
4.2 Project Budget Allocation
4.3 Leadership sign off for investment
5. Existing product line warranty trends5.1 Product Reliability Goal setting
5.2 Design and Process improvement to eliminate warranty failures.
6. Legal & Regulatory Norms/Changes6.1 Mandatory product testing eg. Euro 6 or BSI 6 norms for the vehicle.
6.2 CE label or BSI scheme-I or scheme-II testing.
7. Project Charter & ReportProject approval by leadership and budget allocation

2.Product Design and Development Verification

The main aim of this phase is to develop the product design and its features for applying customer requirements. It starts with gathering customer needs, market demand, and transferring into concept design.

Following inputs/tasks and output are considered during this phase.

Input / TaskOutput
1. Customer wants & needs &
Product Benchmarking
Product Concept Design
2. Concept Design2.1 CAD Design (PTC Creo / CATIA / SolidEdge)
2.2 Engineering Design (Concept Study drawings)
2.3 System FMEA
2.4 Reliability Goal
2.5 Design FMEA (concept design-FMEA)
2.6 Preliminary engineering specification
3. Prototype Design3.1 Design Review
3.2 Geometric & Dimension Tolerance Review (GD&T)
3.3 Design FMEA (Prototype d-FMEA)
3.4 Prototype P-FMEA (assembly & manufacturing process)
3.4 Design for Manufacturing and Assembly (DFM)
3.5 Process Design – Sequence of Events, SOP design, Process Flow Diagram
3.6 Preliminary tooling & fixture design
3.7 Make or Buy Decision Making
3.8 Early supplier involvement & supplier input
3.9 Identification of key characteristics – Critical to Safety (CTS) & Critical
4. Prototype Design Improvement 4.1 Design correction / improvement based on output from above deliverables 3.1 to 3.9
4.2 Re-Verification of improved prototype design (by task from 3.1 to 3.9)
4.3 Engineering Change initiation and implementation
4.4 Sign-off Prototype Design Improvement gate
5. E-Build5.1 Plan and conduct e-build in virtual reality (VR) Lab
5.2 Use CAD tools eg. Creo-View for assembly and manufacturing study
5.3 Document e-build observation / issues
5.4 Resolve e-build issues
5.5 Sign off E-build gate
5.6 Allocate prototype components / parts to supplier
5.7 Develop Proto-type (pre-launch) Control Plan
6. Prototype Build
(feasibility study)
6.1 Plan feasibility build
6.2 Procure prototype parts from suppliers
6.3 Conduct feasibility build
6.4 Document feasibility build observation / issues
6.5 Resolve feasibility-build issues
6.6 Sign off feasibility-build gate

3.Process Design and Development Verification

This phase is focused on the manufacturing cycle used to produce desired products. The results of this phase can give the operational process specifications to secure the precision, accuracy, and quality control to manage manufacturing process.

Input / TaskOutput
1. Manufacturing &
Assembly Process Design
1.1 Safety Review
1.2 Floor plan & Factory Design
1.3 Tools and fixture verification
1.4 Process FMEA
1.5 Pre-launch Control Plan
1.6 Preliminary Process & Machine Capability Study
1.7 Process Flow Diagram & preliminary Standard operating method (SOP) release
1.8 Measurement System Analysis (MSA)
1.9 Identification of key characteristics – Critical to Process (CTP)
2. Supply Chain Design2.1 Supplier selection (for long-term production)
2.2 Finalize make vs. buy decision
2.3 Spend analysis and cost saving
2.4 Supplier capability and capacity assessment
2.5 Supply chain mapping and flow study
2.6 Inventory, logistics and transportation design
3. Localization & part development3.1 Component development and localization
3.2 Tooling development at supplier
3.3 PPAP (Production part approval process) requirements review with supplier.
3.4 Pre-verification & validation PPAP review and approval
3.5 Testing of supplier parts and components

4.Product and Process Validation

This phase aims to test the product design, manufacturing process design by applying various
Validation techniques. The output of the following phase can be,

Input / TaskOutput
1. Pre-launch manufacturing process validation1.1 Elimination of safety issues
1.2 Finalization of factory set-up and floor plan
1.3 Tools and fixture validation
1.4 Reduced RPN & Failure mode in P-FMEA
1.5 Production Control Plan
1.6 Process and Machine Capability study completion
1.7 SOP / Work instruction release
1.8 Completion of MSA study
1.9 Mistake proofing implementation for critical to process (CTP)
2. Supply Chain Process Validation2.1 Supplier development
2.2 Purchased part BOM and engineering BOM
2.3 Validation of supply chain, logistics process and transportation flow
3. Manufacturing set-up readiness at supplier3.1 Tools and fixture validation at supplier
3.2 Mistake proofing implementation at supplier
3.3 PPAP approval
4. Product Testing (Validation)4.1 Product testing in lab in different environment
4.2 Product testing in actual condition (eg. long drive test)
4.3 Accelerated life testing
4.4 Regulatory testing of product

5.Launch, assessment, and corrective action

This phase of APQP is centric on the overall management or production of processes and
products. This can be used to recognize issues in product or service, action to improve product
and process quality, monitor warranty issue and reduce or eliminate warranty based on
customer feedback or response.

Input / TaskOutput
1. Product Launch1. Marketing event
2. Media and PR advisement
2. Customer Feedback1. Initial 6 month customer feedback
2. Customer compliant / warranty claim
3. Dealer Feedback & Development3.1 Dealer feedback
3.2 Dealer network development
3.3 Continuous improvement at dealer
4. Corrective Action4.1 Design or manufacturing process improvement
4.2 8D report
5. Continual ImprovementContinual improvement in following areas,
a. Supplier development and improvement
b. Lean manufacturing
c. Line balancing
d. Supplier optimization
e. Supply chain management optimization

What are APQP tools?

In Advanced Product Quality Planning, several kinds of tools are in action but most importantly
four core tools are engaged within the APQP process.
The core tools are listed below:

1.Failure Mode and Effects Analysis

FMEA is an organized set to discover the failures found in the design and process of products.
In this FMEA, Failure mode means how a product fails and Effects Analysis states that this
failure can turn into waste and destructive results for customers. (Refer standard SAE J1739)

This tool is used to enhance the product by applying the experience of the Cross-Functional
Team, which is responsible to review the production process and design.
FMEA can be classified into two parts:

a. System FMEA

b. Design FMEA

c. Process FMEA

2.Measurement System Analysis

MSA is one of the statistical tool to ensure the system capability. The measurement system is
used to measure the characteristics of any object in the form of data, number and reading.

A combination of fixtures , gauge and personnel to determine the specification of any object.

3.Statistical Process Control

SPC in termed as the method for quality control by managing the manufacturing process.
Quality Control is monitored through data collected in pattern of attributes and variables.
This tool is used for improvement of product quality and reduces the variation of product.
It can be used to estimate behavior of process and enhance the production.

4.Production Part Approval Process

It can be used to define the approval process of new or existing parts. The 18 elements are
needed for the approval process. The result of PPAP approval claims that suppliers have
fulfilled customer’s expectations.


APQP is not only useful in the automotive industry but also in the non-automotive industry. The only difference is, the time in launching a product from drawing board to showroom may differ from industry to industry. In the automotive industry, it may take 3 years to launch a new car / SUV whereas in a consumer or household application it can be just 1 year to launch a new product.

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