When buiyng a car, you can choose from a huge selection of different brands and models. The range of shapes, colors, engine sizes, additional equipment, etc. allows anyone to find the perfect car to suit their needs. Car manufacturers have different approaches to designing and constructing cars, but they all have one thing in common: The cars’ components must, unconditionally, be of the highest quality – and so must the uniformity of the components.
For decades, FJ Industries has been one of the automotive industry’s preferred suppliers of sintered, cast, and machined metal components. The reason for this comes down to our emphasis on high, consistent quality in every single one of our deliveries – as well as the fact that our quality management follows that of the automotive industry, which is described in the IATF 16949 quality management system.
We have explained the IATF 16949 in depth in another article, thus below we will focus on APQP, a process for quality control under IATF 16949.
Why do we need APQP?
In the manufacturing of vehicles, there are many possibilities for errors, especially when developing and launching new models. APQP is a tool that aims to ensure the quality of all components through risk mapping, process planning and controls.
1. Quality in final product
- No quality issues
- Flawless product
- Higher returns on investment
- Minimal quality risk for new products
2. Time consumption
- Short production time
- On-time delivery
3. Communication between customer and supplier
- Improving the PPAP process
- Continuous improvements
- Improving customer satisfaction
4. Trust in supplier
- Delivery of quality products at the agreed time and price
- Continuous optimization of production costs
- Increasing profitability
What does APQP consists of?
The figure below shows APQP’s guidance from customer requirements to customer satisfaction and the elements included in the quality process
APQP’s basic principles are:
- Plan before executing
- Anticipate and prevent problems
- Validate before the next step
- Facilitate good communication
The five phases of the work
In the preparation, we go through all assumptions, concepts and knowledge that are relevant to phase 1 – planning and definition. During the preparation, we look at:
- Project scope
- Assumptions about the product and the process
- Mistakes from similar previous projects
- Team size, structure and experience
- Methods for problem solving
- How much space and resources the project will require
- Project timing
Phase 1 – planning and definition
In this phase, the customer’s requirements for a given component are defined, and the aim behind planning the resources and processes is to achieve the quality the customer desires. We also prepare a list of preliminary characteristics and design objectives.
The composition of the interdisciplinary team in charge of APQP changes as the project progresses and new professional areas are included. The team is responsible for defining, applying and updating the planning documents throughout the project.
Objectives for phase 1:
- Plan and define APQP for the project in question
- Ensure that we, as a subcontractor, know the customer’s needs and expectations, so that we can design an optimal quality program
Phase 2 – product design and development
In phase 2, the focus is on defining the product’s geometry, properties, details, tolerances and the refining of special characteristics. The product design can also be assessed, verified and tested using prototypes.
Tools of particular value in this phase are DFM/A, DFMEA (Design Failure Mode and Effect Analysis) and DVP & R (Design Verification Plan & Report).
Objectives for phase 2:
- Identification of potential product defects
- Assessment of the probability of errors
- Assessing the possible impact of such errors and developing plans for the improvement of the product design to minimize the risk of errors
Phase 3 – process design and development
At this point, we develop the production techniques and measurement methods that will turn the product design into reality.
The tools used in this phase are, among others, process diagrams, PFMEA (Process Failure Mode and Effect Analysis) and control methodology.
Objectives for phase 3:
- To develop a process diagram and a layout of the production area
- To develop a complete and efficient production system that ensures that the customer’s requirements are met
Phase 4 – product and process validation
Validation of process quality and production capacity is the main focus in this phase. SPC (Statistical Process Control), MSA (Measurement Systems Analysis) and process capability are included, which results in a PPAP (Product Part Approval Process) ready for approval. The serial production starts once the customer’s approval has been obtained.
Objectives for phase 4:
- Validate the production processes and the product and thereby ensure that the customer’s requirements are met.
Phase 5 – Feedback assessment and corrections
In the final phase, we collect and assess the experiences from the production process, the RPN reduction, corrective actions (both internal and external), the eight problem-solving disciplines (8D), and other relevant information for future use.
Objectives for phase 5:
- To assess the effectiveness of the APQP scheme and identify opportunities for improvement for future projects
The benefits of APQP
APQP is an invaluable tool that provides a wide range of benefits if utilize it properly:
- Keeps the team focused on what is important
- Promotes early identification of modifications
- Helps to anticipate and prevent potential errors
- Ensures delivery of quality products on time at the lowest possible price
- Provides a clear picture of risks before production starts
- Verification and validation of changes
- Improved collaboration between different professional areas
- Improved product design making production and assembly more efficient
- Solutions with lower costs can be chosen early on
- Better sharing of knowledge across the team and with the customer
FJ Industries, a trusted partner for the automotive industry
Our dedicated work ensuring quality has made us the preferred supplier for many international automakers, and our production units in Denmark, Sweden and China are all IATF 16949 certified.