Every vehicle coming off an assembly line today carries some 150 pounds of electrical wiring. That’s a lot of connectors and contact pins, and they’re all expected to work flawlessly for years. How does Bead Electronics ensure custom interconnect pins for automotive applications aren’t responsible for a failure? By following PPAP procedures.
The Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) is a standardized approach that suppliers and vehicle OEMs follow for getting new parts approved. It was developed to improve vehicle quality while simultaneously lowering the time and expense of the approval process.
PPAP standardizes the way suppliers prove their parts and manufacturing processes are capable of making what’s needed. By clarifying what evidence a supplier must show to demonstrate production readiness, launching new products becomes easier and faster. At the same, the reliability of these products, and that of the systems they assemble into, improves because quality is addressed throughout development.
PPAP is part of Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP.) This is a five-phase process for managing new product introduction and the associated manufacturing processes. The phases are:
- 1. Planning
- 2. Product Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
- 3. Process FMEA
- 4. Product and process validation
- 5. Continuous improvement of product and process
PPAP covers phase four: verifying that the supplier can supply what’s needed.
When and How is a PPAP Performed?
A supplier conducts a PPAP whenever they introduce a new product. If at Bead Electronics we launched a family of new electronic pins or contact pins for custom electrical connectors we would PPAP both the product and the process.
A second situation requiring a PPAP is any change in process or design that could materially affect how the pins function in service. For example, a modification to the swaging tools used, or moving the tools to a new machine, could lead to subtle differences. To address this we would go through PPAP again.
Changes usually need some customer-supplier discussion to determine if the planned change is material. This is done before starting on the PPAP!
A PPAP has a lot of paperwork associated with it, which is combined into a Part Submission Warrant (PSW.) The supplier submits a PSW to the customer for each part number that will be produced. PPAP paperwork is gathered throughout the process, which culminates in an extended production run. This is where we prove we can satisfy production requirements.
The Benefits of PPAP
Automotive OEMs and their suppliers both gain from a well-executed PPAP. Identifying what can go wrong before production starts minimizes risks and surprises. Thorough evaluation of the production processes, including speed and quality performance, prevents parts shortages and quality problems. The result is a smooth new product launch that all those involved can be proud of.