During my career, I have had the privilege to work for a major proactive OEM that has been a significant driving factor in the advancement and development of aerospace quality standards, one of which is AS9145 – Aerospace Series – Requirements for Advanced Product Quality Planning and Production Part Approval Process.

There have been a number of repeat and common issues that I have seen regarding the APQP/PPAP process, of which were neither commodity or sector dependent. I am highlighting these issues to help suppliers avoid falling into these common traps.

1. Plan

I will start with a quote from Benjamin Franklin:

If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail’.

This is very true when it comes to APQP and PPAP. During reviews of PPAP, it soon becomes apparent that the creation of the PPAP document was an afterthought. The philosophy of APQP and PPAP is that the PPAP documents are created during the APQP process and not a case of “let’s create all these documents today so we can submit to the customer”.

If APQP is done correctly, then you have created a plan by using the knowledge of a cross-functional team. This plan will allow you to deliver all the required deliverables.  APQP ensures that you are doing the right things (DFMEA, PFMEA, MSA etc.) at the right time within the process, with the right people for the right reasons.

If APQP has not been planned appropriately then tell-tale signs start to appear within the PPAP submission. It is important to understand the timeline behind the documents created.

For example, if a drawing was released as a finished drawing in January 2019 and updated due to a modification in February 2019, we would need to review the dates of the documents within the submission. If the DFMEA was created in March 2019, then it was created too late to achieve its true purpose and the supplier has missed a golden opportunity to improve the design of the product prior to design release. DFMEA considerations would not have been available for the original drawing release or its first update

Also, another example is when the Control Plan is created prior to the PFMEA.  When I see these types of issues, it leads me to ask the supplier lots of questions to identify if they have undertaken an effective APQP program or just created a PPAP as a ‘tick box exercise’.

2. ‘All the chapters in the story must be from the same book’. Let me explain…

The PPAP submission is like a story; in essence, you are telling the story of the creation of this part and the process that makes it. All the bits of information need to tie up. For example, if a drawing has a dimension that is measured with a height gauge. When I review element 6 within the PPAP file – Measurement System Analysis, I would expect to see a MSA study for the height gauge measurement system. In reality, what I have seen on a number of occasions is suppliers providing a data dump of all the MSAs they have undertaken. Then as a reviewer, I need to work out which are valid and which are not.

In one example, a height gauge was used but a MSA study was provided for a shadowgraph. On closer examination of the PPAP documents, it was determined that a shadowgraph was not listed anywhere within the Control Plan.

3. If you have a problem, know what you are doing to fix it.

If the PPAP file is not complete or contains discrepancies when making the PPAP submission, an action plan detailing how the submission will be completed/corrected should be included.

The submission warrant in AS9145, also called the Production Part Approval Process Approval Form contains the following statement:

‘I, the supplier, submit this PPAP Approval form as declaration of having met all applicable requirements of the 9145 standard, except as noted…’

What this means is that as a supplier, you are aware of issues or non-compliance with the standard and have a closing action plan which is resourced with completion dates. The approach I have seen too often is that the supplier submits their PPAP pack and waits for the review/approval authority to list and report the issues found.

Often, the supplier only acts on the issues highlighted by the review/approval authority, which is clear evidence that the supplier is not accepting responsibility for the parts they have designed (if design responsible), and the associated manufacturing process they have developed. The supplier is best placed to know what issues and risks they carry, and as such, what they are going to do to resolve them. The onus is on the supplier to identify all issues and to create an appropriate closing action plan.

Just a thought; if the review/approval authority signs off the PPAP file with discrepancies within it, that on its own does not resolve the discrepancies in the file. The customer’s signature on the approval form does not make the file contents right; the corrective action plan does!

4. Not submitting on time is not an option

Consider the following:

A submission date has been given to the supplier by the customer’s project management team at the start of the programme of work, and this date has been agreed by all the parties involved in the project (customer and supplier side). The agreed date is fast approaching but the supplier knows that they will not have everything done on time. So the supplier decides not to submit on the agreed date but carries on undertaking all the required actions to submit a fully complete and acceptable submission. Meanwhile, the customer is expecting the submission on a certain date.

Imagine you are the project team manager responsible for a completely new engine; think of all the thousands of parts that require PPAP. The part in question is just one of many thousands and as such you, the project manager have a real need to understand the status of each of the parts. If the supplier does not submit on time, you do not know whether or not the supplier has a serious problem.

The expectation is that the supplier submits on time so that there is a stake in the ground and everyone (your company and your customer) knows how the project is progressing.

If you take on board the pointers above then it will help you to deliver a successful APQP programme and PPAP submission.

– February 2020 authored by Andrea Goddard

A Bit More About Andrea

For the past two years, Andrea has been working as a Senior Consultant for Industry Forum specialising in the aerospace sector and associated industry standards. Prior to Industry Forum, Andrea worked for Rolls-Royce Ltd in various manufacturing engineering positions.  Andrea was the European PPAP Champion and part of the team that implemented the Rolls-Royce version of APQP & PPAP (a forerunner to AS9145).