Advanced Quality Planning (APQP): planning tool

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Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) is a tool to standardize the activities for the launch of new products or the partial or total modification of these for all suppliers.

According to the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), the purpose of APQP is “to produce a product quality plan to support development of products or services that will satisfy customers. This tool has become an industry standard by which new products are introduced to the automotive industry.

APQP is a structured process to define the main characteristics for compliance with regulatory requirements and to accomplish customer satisfaction. It includes methods and controls that will be helpful in the design and production of specific products. Quality planning also includes defect prevention and continuous improvement and its objective is to produce a product quality plan that supports or maintains product development that meets customer requirements.

Advanced Product Quality Planning includes:

  • Documents reviews and customer requirements
  • Feasibility studies
  • Procedure for failure mode and effects analysis
  • Quality control plan
  • Definition and development of manufacturing tools
  • Self-control guidelines, process parameters, packaging guidelines
  • Manufacture of first series
  • Approval and closure of APQP

5 Phases of the Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) Process

Before we move on to the benefits of Advanced Product Quality Planning, we need to look at the steps in the process. This planning uses a five-phase process, which are the following:

1. Planning and defining the program

When customer demands require the introduction of a new product or a reconstruction of an existing one, preliminary planning becomes essential, even before discussions of product design or redesign. In this APQP phase, planning refers to understand customer’s needs and product expectations.

Planning activities include gathering necessary data to establish what the customer wants and then using the information to hash out product characteristics. The quality program needed to create the product as specified can then be defined. The output of this work includes product design, reliability, and quality goals.

In this phase, the needs, requirements and expectations of the client are determined using design tools, such as QFD, which is a structured method that uses planning tools to identify and prioritize customers’ expectations effectively. QFD can help you to organize those needs and translate them into the product characteristics. Planning involves a series of activities and documents that must be generated and approved to reach the final end of the approval of a product. This planning can be done with project management programs, or a Gantt chart type can be applied to control it, indicating the execution of the different phases, dates, resources, managers and document management to be carried out.

To accomplish successful in this phase, it is fundamental to know what the customer wants and needs when launching a new product.

2. Product design and development

In this phase, the prototype to be manufactured must be designed, taking into consideration all the client’s requirements. To do this, you can use analysis procedures for potential system failures that will help you to correct them and ensure the product design is appropriated and free of failures. For this, the most used technique is FMEA (Model Failure and Effects Analysis) which is a methodology for analyzing potential reliability problems early in the development cycle. FMEA is used to identify potential failure modes and to identify actions to diminish failures.

3. Design and process development

This phase include manufacturing techniques and measurement methods that will be used to bring the design engineer’s vision into reality. To achieve that effectively, it is advisable to use a developing manufacturing systems and control. The following tasks will help you to achieve a successful completion:

  • Plan and define the program
  • Design and develop the product
  • Validate product and process

A manufacturing process should be repeatedly consistent and address the customers’ requirements in terms of specifications. During this phase, your team should measure the degree to which your process is or is not meeting those requirements. Quality control plans can be used to check if your products are meeting customer requirements. The control plan enhances the information provided in detailed instructions by the operator. Control plans also describe the actions required at each step in the process to ensure that all process outputs are under control. During regular production runs, control plans specify the process monitoring and control methods used to match the characteristics of the control element or product.

During product development, control plans are used to document and communicate the initial plan for process control. During production, they control and monitor processes and product quality and can improve quality by identifying the sources of variation and by establishing controls to monitor them. By focusing on what is critical to quality during the process, you can reduce scrap and costs.

Control plans must be constantly reviewed and modified to achieve better results.

4. Product and process validation

At this stage, the production operation must be evaluated, as well as the control of the established conditions and mandatory requirements.

Validation is the process of ensuring that the product has been made according to the needs, requirements, and / or specifications previously defined. The design validation is carried out in the final product design with the parts that meet the calculation intent. This process will ensure that the new products meet the requirements established in the original design. Design verification can include activities such as design reviews, performing calculations, tests and demonstrations, and review of design documents prior to launch.

The production validation is carried out in the final product design with the parts that solve the production processes.

5. Launch, assessments, and continual improvement

During this phase, the emphasis is on evaluating and improving processes and the tasks include reducing process variations, identifying issues, and starting corrective actions to supportv continual improvement. You should also collect and assess customer feedback and data related to process efficiency and quality planning effectiveness.

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Sandra Melo

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