What is APQP?

By Steven Allison

There are lots of different acronyms used within the aerospace & defence industry especially relating to manufacturing and quality. A common one used is APQP but what is APQP? It's a term relating to product development, with a specific focus on quality. It stands for Advanced Product Quality Planning, taking into account what customers want and following a process to keep quality at the forefront. It’s essentially documented evidence of risk analysis prior to beginning production on a part. While this may sound like a box-ticking exercise, the real value and aim is in ensuring that you have a consistent production run, therefore minimising delivery delays due to poor quality.

Where does the term come from?

APQP is not a new requirement. It forms part of the AS9145 standard but until recently, manufacturers weren’t obligated to provide documented evidence. Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) are driving this regimented process in line with the standard created in 2016/17. This means that 'new build' aircraft contracts stipulate documented evidence of compliance to AS9145.

The key areas of APQP

There are five steps to APQP:

  1. Planning
  2. Product design and development
  3. Process design and development
  4. Product and process validation
  5. Ongoing production, use and post-delivery service

APQP incorporates PPAP (Production Part Approval Process), which focuses on risk analysis around the features and characteristics of the assembly of the part.  There can be many elements within a PPAP. Some key ones to note are: Capturing the Requirements, Process Flow Diagram, FMEA, Control Plans, MSA (Measurement Systems Analysis), FAIR documentation and Part Submission Warrant. All of these elements are planning stages designed for reducing the risk of non-conformance during production.

Basically, APQP deals with the entirety of the process - from receiving a business enquiry all the way to the finished product.

Putting APQP into practice

In essence, a lot of manufacturers are already doing the kind of activities that are required by APQP but they’re just not being documented. Taking the time to adopt APQP principles means that manufacturers can strive for more accurate lead times, better quality and a smoother run. Ultimately, it means less chance of failure.

Our QMS solution is your toolkit for creating and completing the evidence for APQP to meet the requirements of AS9145. It allows you to manage product data, reduce risk and streamline manual processes, giving you what you need to efficiently manage the manufacturing quality documentation of a product from the planning stage right up until delivering the finished part.

Now that you have an understanding of ‘what is APQP’ and the value it can bring to your project, find out more about our quality management software and how it can help manage your APQP requirements.

 

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