If you’re from the automotive or aerospace industry, the acronym ‘P.P.A.P.’ is common knowledge and is used frequently. If you’re from a separate industry, the acronym may not have as much meaning, but it represents a significant opportunity to tighten up your documentation for future quality control and preparation for a quality certification. If you want to know more, we’ll highlight the process and each piece of documentation required that should get you on the right track to advancing your documentation processes and improving your quality control.
What is the P.P.A.P. Process?
The acronym P.P.A.P. stands for Production Part Approval Process. It is used in the automotive and aerospace industry to verify components and their production processes. The PPAP documentation was developed by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) to demonstrate via documentation that all customer engineering design records and specification requirements are understood by the supplier and their processes can produce the products during an actual production run at the quoted production rate. This package of documents is applicable to all parts within automotive including metal stampings, injection molded components, forgings, 3D prints, and more.
What is Included in a P.P.A.P. Package?
The PPAP package for a finished product can be quite lengthy depending on the specification requirements required by the customer, the number of variations, and the testing and data needed for approval. In a standard package there are 19 sections for a complete submission that includes the history of the components from the beginning. If you have never thumbed through a PPAP package, here’s what you should expect to see:
1. Part Submission Warrant (PSW) – This is the starting form that summarizes the complete package. This warrant defines why it is being submitted, and what level of documentation is included within the package.
PPAP Submission Levels:
Level 1 – Part Submission Warrant (PSW) only submitted to the customer. No data or other documentation is required.
Level 2 – PSW with product samples and minimal data is submitted.
Level 3 – PSW with product samples and complete supporting data.
Level 4 – PSW and other requirements as defined by the customer.
Level 5 – PSW with product samples and complete supporting data available for review at the supplier’s manufacturing location.
You will notice that as each level increases, so does the requirements for documentation. Sub-suppliers such as tier-2 and tier-3 suppliers normally stay in the lower half of the level requirements as their parts are typically incorporated into a tier-1 (or direct supplier to an OEM). The tier-1 supplier typically operates in the level 3, 4, and 5 area requiring full documentation at each stage of the process.
- Design Records – A printed copy of the drawing needs to be provided within the package. If the customer is responsible for designing the part or assembly, this drawing is a customer copy sent with the package. If the supplier is responsible for the drawing, it is their copy. In either case, featured highlights must be shown that correspond with inspection data report results (including any production notes, tolerances, and relevant information).
- Engineering Change Documents – This form shows the level of change currently being submitted and a detailed description of what is included. It can also be called an “Engineering Change Notice or Note” abbreviated ECN.
- 4.Engineering Approval – This document summarizes a production trial at the customer location. Parts that do not meet the specifications or are being sent prior to a complete PPAP package approval may need a “temporary deviation” authorization from the customer to document what is occurring and why.
- DFMEA – DFMEA is the abbreviation for Design Failure Mode and Effect Analysis. The purpose of the document is to define what can fail from a design perspective and what effect that will have on the end-product and customer. The supplier and customer both sign-off on the document, and it lists all the critical characteristics in question.
- Process Flow Diagram – This diagram shows all the steps involved to create the finished part. It includes incoming raw materials or sub-supplier components, fabrication steps, inspections, and can also include shipping as a final step.
- PFMEA – The PFMEA is the abbreviation for Process Failure Mode and Effect Analysis. It has a similar layout as the DFMEA, but it focuses on what could go wrong during the manufacturing process within the supplier facilities. It again outlines what can go wrong and what effect that can have on the end-customer.
- Control Plan – The Control Plan is directly related to the PFMEA as it follows the exact steps of the process and details how the potential ‘what can go wrong’ items are addressed with incoming quality verification, additional steps within the manufacturing process, and final quality inspections prior to each part / assembly being shipped
- Measurement System Analysis Studies (MSA) – The MSA defines how the final parts are to be verified with data analysis. It typically encompasses the Gauge R&R (Repeatability and Reproducibility) that measure the key or critical part characteristics, and a confirms the gauges used are calibrated accordingly.
- Dimensional Results – These results showcase the dimensions noted on the drawing in section 2. The results include an easy evaluation if the dimension is OK or NG (no good), and any notes why the NG assessment is acceptable. Typically, a minimum of 6 parts are reported on for this study.
- Material or Performance Test Records – This document summarizes the testing plan and results for the components or assembly being submitted. The format typically follows a DVP&R (Design Verification Plan and Report), which lists each test involved, what stage it was completed, the specification, the results and if it was deemed to pass or fail testing. You can also find material certifications (metals, resins, etc.) used in each component or assembly.
- Initial Sample Inspection Report – This reports outlines material samples initially inspected before prototypes are made early in the development process.
- Initial Process Studies – The initial studies are related to capability of the process and proof of stability via data analysis. A normal sample of 30 consecutive pieces are selected from the manufacturing process and evaluated with SPC (Statistical Process Control). This can include charts and Six Sigma statistical variation.
- Qualified Laboratory Documentation – This section lists all laboratory certifications for any testing sites that perform tests in the development process from section 11.
- Appearance Approval Report – This report is as it sounds, for appearance approval. Typically it is used for painted or injection molded parts that the end-customer or consumer can see. It may include grain or surface approval to a master sample, color / shade correctness, and color harmony between specific components or assemblies in a given area.
- Sample Production Parts – Packages in levels 2 through 5 include samples from a production run whether that is a pre-production trial or related to an engineering / drawing change after initial start of production. It is common to submit 6 numbered samples related to section 10 that can be tracked through the customer process.
- Master Sample – A master sample can be signed by representatives from the supplier and customer to indicate what ideal and/or acceptable quality is. This part can be used to train quality and manufacturing employees too. The signed sample is normally kept securely at the supplier site for reference.
- Additional Checking Aids – This report may or may not be required based on how the finished parts are being verified. The checking aids report may be a drawing showing additional fixtures or tools, their calibration records, and dimensional accuracy of the tool to its design. It is similar to the gauge R&R reports listed in section 9.
- Customer-Specific Requirements – Last but not least are the customer-specific items that need to be included in the PPAP package. Most North American automakers follow the IATF guidelines on their website, but if your business is a supplier to other OEMs or sub-suppliers on other continents you may have additional requirements to meet. It’s best to get these specific items as early as possible in the process, even if that is during initial bid negotiations.
The PPAP package can seem daunting in you’re not used to generating and submitting them on a regular basis. Each package can be a little different if you’re manufacturing injection molded parts, metal stamping components, or just assembling complete finished goods for the automotive industry. Getting into the industry can be a difficult task, but the paperwork shouldn’t prevent you from bidding new business if you can fill the need. At SEA-LECT Plastics we pride ourselves in tool and die manufacturing that allows us to deliver high quality products free from defects, and we have multiple options for manufacturing to help your business succeed. SEA-LECT Plastics has an elite team that produces world-class prototypes and products, and we have decades of experience with plastic injection molding operations. We can offer support to determine what type of tooling you need, what materials to choose, and how to generate the PPAP documentation. Give us a call at (425) 339-0288 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll help to determine the best manufacturing for your next project.
Matthias Poischbeg was born and raised in Hamburg, Germany. Matt moved to Everett, Wash., after finishing his bachelor’s degree in business in 1995 to work for Sea-Dog Corporation, a manufacturer, and distributor of marine and rigging hardware established in 1923.
In 1999, Matt took over the reins at Sea-Lect Plastics Corporation, a sister company of Sea-Dog and a manufacturer of plastic injection molded products with an in-house tool & die shop. Matthias Poischbeg is also a contributor to Grit Daily.