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Complex products and supply chains present many possibilities for failure, especially during new product launch with the potential of low customer satisfaction. Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) is a structured process aimed at ensuring customer satisfaction with new products or processes. APQP has existed for decades in many forms and practices. 

Originally referred to as Advanced Quality Planning (AQP), APQP is used by progressive companies to assure quality and performance through planning. Ford Motor Company published the first Advanced Quality Planning handbook for suppliers in the early 1980’s. APQP helped Ford suppliers develop appropriate prevention and detection controls for new products supporting the corporate quality effort. 

With lessons learned from Ford AQP, the North American Automotive OEM’s collectively created the APQP process in 1994 and then later updated it in 2008. APQP is intended to aggregate the common planning activities all automotive OEM’s require into one process. Suppliers utilize APQP to bring new products and processes to successful validation and drive continuous improvement.


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What is Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)?

 APQP is a structured approach to product and process design. The APQP framework is a standardized set of quality requirements that enable suppliers to design a product that satisfies the customer. The primary goal of product quality planning is to facilitate communication and collaboration between engineering activities. 

A Cross Functional Team (CFT), involving marketing, product design, procurement, manufacturing and distribution, is used in the APQP process. APQP ensures that the voice of the customer is clearly understood, translated into requirements, technical specifications and special characteristics. The product or process benefits are designed in through prevention. APQP supports the early identification of change, both intentional and incidental. 

These changes can result in exciting new innovation which enhances customer delight. When not managed well they translate to failure and customer dissatisfaction. The focus of APQP is utilization of tools and methods for mitigating the risks associated with change in the new product or process.

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Why Implement Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)

APQP supports the never ending pursuit of continuous improvement. The first three sections of APQP focus on planning and prevention and make up 80% of the APQP process. The fourth and fifth sections support the remaining 20% of APQP and focuses on validation and evidence. The fifth section specifically allows an organization to communicate learning and provide feedback to develop standard work and processes. A list of APQP benefits are:

  • Directing resources by defining the vital few items from the trivial many. 
  • Promoting early identification of change.
  • Avoiding late changes (post release) by anticipating failure and preventing it.
  • On-time quality product at lowest cost. 
  • Multiple options for mitigating the risk when found earlier.
  •  Higher capability of verification and validation of a change.
  •  Improved collaboration between Design of the Product and Process.
  •  Lower cost solutions selected earlier in the process.
  •  Legacy capture and reuse, advancement of Tribal Knowledge and standard work creation and utilization.

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About the Author

Adebayo is a thought leader in continuous process improvement and manufacturing excellence. He is a Certified Six Sigma Master Black Belt (CSSMBB) Professional and Management Systems Lead Auditor (ISO 9001, 45001, ISO 22000/FSSC 22000 etc.) with strong experience leading various continuous improvement initiative in top manufacturing organizations. 

You can reach him here.

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