Advanced Product Quality pPanning (or APQP) is a framework of procedures and techniques used to develop products in industry, particularly the automotive industry It is quite similar to the concept of Design for Six Sigma (DFSS).

It is a defined process for a product development system for General Motors, Ford, Chrysler and their suppliers. According to the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), the purpose of APQP is “to produce a product quality plan which will support development of a product or service that will satisfy the customer. 

Advanced product quality planning is a process developed in the late 1980s by a commission of experts gathered around ‘Big Three’ US automobile industry: Ford, GM and Chrysler. Representatives from the three automotive original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and the Automotive Division of American Society for Quality Control (ASQC)* created the Supplier Quality Requirement Task Force for developing a common understanding on topics of mutual interest within the automotive industry. *NOTE: The ASQC has changed its name to the ASQ (American Society for Quality) to better represent the scope of its work.

This commission invested five years to analyze the then-current automotive development and production status in the US, Europe and especially in Japan. At the time, the success of the Japanese automotive companies was starting to be remarkable in the US market.

APQP is utilized today by these three companies and some affiliates. Tier 1 suppliers are typically required to follow APQP procedures and techniques and are also typically required to be audited and registered to ISO/TS 16949. This methodology is now being used in other manufacturing sectors as well.

The basis for the make-up of a process control plan is included in the APQP manual. The APQP process is defined in the AIAG’s APQP manual, which is part of a series of interrelated documents that the AIAG controls and publishes. These manuals include:

The Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) is a non-profit association of automotive companies founded in 1982.

APQP serves as a guide in the development process and also a standard way to share results between suppliers and automotive companies. APQP specifies three phases: Development, Industrialization and Product Launch. Through these phases 23 main topics will be monitored. These 23 topics will be all completed before the production is started. They cover such aspects as: design robustness, design testing and specification compliance, production process design, quality inspection standards, process capability, production capacity, product packaging, product testing and operator training plan, among other items.

APQP focuses on:

  • Up-front quality planning
  • Determining if customers are satisfied by evaluating the output and supporting continual improvement

APQP consists of five phases:

  • Plan and Define Program
  • Product Design and Development Verification
  • Process Design and Development Verification
  • Product and Process Validation and Production Feedback
  • Launch, Assessment & Corrective Action

There are five major activities:

  • Planning
  • Product Development
  • Process Development
  • Product and Process Validation
  • Production

The APQP process has seven major elements:

  • Understanding the needs of the customer
  • Proactive feedback and corrective action
  • Designing within the process capabilities
  • Analyzing and mitigating failure modes
  • Verification and validation
  • Design reviews
  • Control special/critical characteristics.