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How HighQA Software can assist manufacturer with the APQP process

Written by:

Emily Smith

Ever wondered how products seamlessly transition from initial concepts to reality?

For manufacturers who are familiar with APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning), this structured approach plays a crucial part in ensuring proactive conception, development, and the successful launch of new products.

Advanced Product Quality Planning ( APQP ) is used as a guiding framework for quality managers, production managers, quality engineers, and other decision-makers within manufacturing organisations.

Its five phases ensure quality control, defect reduction, and compliance with industry standards.

Let’s dive into the intricacies of APQP and navigate through its five crucial phases that shape the development and launch of high-quality products.

The 5 Essential Phases of APQP

Phase 1 – Planning

When customers express their needs for a new product or significant changes to an existing one, initial planning becomes crucial before delving into discussions about product design or redesign.

Example Deliverables:

  • Statement Of work
  • Project plan

Phase 2 – Product design and development

This stage concentrates on finalising the product design, applicable when the company undertakes product design responsibilities, involving a comprehensive product feasibility evaluation.

Taking into account customer requirements and identified safety or critical characteristics, the primary outcomes of this phase of product design and development are:

  • Design Failure Mode Effect Analysis (DFMEA)
  • Design for manufacturing and assembly
  • Design review and verification
  • Prototype control plan
  • Engineering drawings and specifications
  • Specified material requirements
  • Equipment, tooling, gauging/testing, and other facility needs
  • Confirmed special characteristics
  • Team feasibility commitment and management backing

Phase 3 – Process design and development

This phase centres on strategising the manufacturing process necessary for producing the enhanced or new product. The aim is to craft and refine a production process that aligns with product specifications, quality benchmarks, and cost-effectiveness for the manufacturer. The process should be geared towards meeting projected consumer demand while upholding operational efficiency.

The essential outcomes of phase 3 are:

  • Packaging standards/specifications
  • Review of product and process quality systems
  • Comprehensive process flow diagram (PFD)
  • Layout of production floor plan
  • Characteristics matrix
  • Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
  • Control Plan
  • Work instructions
  • Plan for Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA)
  • Initial process capability study
  • Management backing (staffing and training plan)

Phase 4 – Product and process validation

This phase combines  the critical testing period that verifies both the manufacturing process and the end product, with the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP).

In this stage, customers grant approval based on product samples and documented evidence, ensuring the capability and reliability of the manufacturing process to validate the effectiveness of the deployed approach. Adjustments and enhancements are implemented as needed before advancing to the subsequent phase.

Key actions for this phase are:

  • Conducting a substantial production run
  • Evaluating the measurement system
  • Conducting a preliminary process capability study
  • Obtaining approval for production parts
  • Evaluating packaging
  • Finalised Production control plan
  • Securing sign-off on quality planning
  • Garnering management support
  • First Article Inspection Report (FAIR)
  • PPAP Approval
  • Product Submission Warrant (PSW)

Phase 5 – Product, On-Going production

The final phase entails the full-scale production launch with a focus on evaluating and improving processes.

Outcomes typically include an improved manufacturing process with reduced variations, enhanced product delivery quality and customer service and improved customer satisfaction.

Key assessments and improvements include:

  • Reducing process variations
  • Monitor KPIs
  • Improved customer satisfaction
  • Improved delivery and service
  • Effective use of lessons learned and best practices 

How can HighQA software assist manufacturers with the APQP process?

As a manufacturer, different clients have unique quality requirements and report formats. Managing these quality projects can require a lot of manual input across spreadsheets if the right software isn’t in place. 

This can lead to an increase in missing data and it being easier to make mistakes which can lead to poor quality parts and risked customer satisfaction.

High QA PQP is an innovative, robust production project management technology to plan, implement, manage and monitor all quality requirements across manufactured parts. It is fully integrated with Inspection Manager, the database driven manufacturing quality management software. Together, they create the ultimate comprehensive quality project management solution.

HighQA software can assist manufacturers with the APQP process in the following ways:

  • Standardising the process- Although end customers follow an APQP process, most customers have their own adjustments or additional requirements to consider. HighQA inspection Manager APQP allows manufacturers to have individual indexes for each customer so the end customer gets the correct documents every time. 
  • Controlled workflows – HighQA Inspection Manager APQP allows digital pin coded signatures meaning only authorised members of staff can sign off documentations. Once the document leaves the draft state the document would go through a comprehensive revision workflow to allow it to be editable again. 
  • Accountability – Users can be assigned documents and tasks and be given a clear concise task list for documents that they are responsible for. 
  • Global Forms – HighQA Inspection Manager APQP comes with out of the box forms including but not limited to: PFMEA, Control Plans, AS9§02 Rev C, and Process Flow.
  • One solution- The entire APQP process is housed within one application meaning you can balloon 2D prints and 3D models, collect measurement data, centralise this data and then report on this data all within one application

The HighQA software solution complies with manufacturing regulations in automotive, medical, aerospace and other industries

Align and unify suppliers and buyers

High QA PQP ensures that cross-functional teams can seamlessly and securely collaborate and communicate on critical documents and accelerate the production cycle by: 

  • Eliminating interpretation of GD&T and quality requirements 
  • Standardising and collaborating on the same set of forms, workflows and reports 
  • Documenting accountability with evidence that part requirements are understood
  • Demonstrating process capability and repeatability to produce parts consistently that meet requirements and regulations 
  • Analysing gage usage to verify that inspection tools are meeting buyer’s requirements 
  • Capturing traceability of needed requirements, engineering changes, approvals and acceptance of parts

To find out more about HIghQA software, request a demo or speak to our expert team today, we would be happy to help.

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