Submitting Your Way to PPAP Approval

Submitting Your Way to PPAP Approval

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The author of this article, Craig Thompson, holds certifications as a Certified Quality Manager (CQM), Certified Quality Engineer (CQE), and Certified Quality Auditor (CQA) and is an RAB/QSA-certified AS9100/ISO 9000 Lead Aerospace Auditor (previously AIEA). Mr. Thompson has extensive experience working in the Aerospace, Oil & Gas, Automotive, and Manufacturing Industries. Craig has also developed supplier process flow maps for OEM manufacturers of complex machines for both aerospace and automotive.

Every day we see similar products for sale made by different manufacturers, however, we know from experience that not all are created equal. This is due to different techniques, methods, and processes utilized by different suppliers. Once, I bought a bicycle made by a reputable company. After about a month of riding, there was a part that failed. I went to the local bike shop and bought a replacement part made by the same company. However, the new part would not assemble on the bike without modification. After some lengthy conversations at the bike shop, and a few phone calls, we discovered that even though the part was made by the same company, it was not made at the same facility or by the same processes as the original part. One of the best examples of standard engineering and manufacturing in the world is Legos. You can buy a Legos set manufactured in China, one from the US, and one from Denmark and all three sets will fit together perfectly. This is due to their high level of engineering, planning, and standardization. This degree of focus and execution is the intended outcome of the APQP program and PPAP deployment.

Over my career, I have witnessed that most manufacturers have their own unique set of product requirements, process parameters and assembly methods. However, over the last 40 years the Automotive Industry has developed a common and robust system known as ‘Production Part Approval Process’ (PPAP), a standard, as part of the overall Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) program. It is also worth noting that over the last few years, other industries such as Aerospace, after seeing the benefits, are starting to require and incorporate the same programs.

These manufacturing enhancement systems promote the use of common terminology, standard documents, project status reviews, continual improvement, and risk mitigation. In this article, I will explain the purpose of the PPAP process, what the PPAP package consists of, and the five different levels of submission. A follow-up article coming soon, will contain more information on the requirements, evidence, and the documents that are required to be submitted as part of the PPAP package that most automotive customers require.

The purpose of the PPAP process is for a supplier to demonstrate to the customer that they have developed their design and production process to meet the relevant interested party’s expectations by minimizing the risk of product or process failure. These expectations from customers’ will never change. They will always require the lowest cost possible, products on time, and the product works. The PPAP process is the most effective tool for ensuring that 95% of the risks have been identified and either controlled or corrected to meet the expectations of the manufacturability and quality of the parts supplied to the customer. It is also used to provide evidence that the customer design and specification requirements are clearly understood and can be fulfilled by the supplier. This is accomplished by demonstrating that the manufacturing process has the potential and capability to produce products that consistently meet all requirements during the production run at the production rate required to ensure on-time delivery to the customer.

Craig ThompsonCraig Thompson is a consultant with extensive Management, Process Improvement, Lean Manufacturing & Problem-Solving experience with a very diverse list of Quality Standards and Tools. Mr. Thompson desires to be a vital contributor to a manufacturing operation in need of immediate assistance. When not working, Craig is busy writing articles for various topics in the Automotive and manufacturing industries. Craig envisions a new automotive era that’s fully emission free.

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