Production Part Approval Process | PPAP Process

What is PPAP Process programIn today’s manufacturing world there has been an increase in the outsourcing of parts or components of various products, this normally results in large order quantities, and with many of these manufacturers being overseas longer lead times also results.  As a result, the parts produced must be of good quality the first time and every time they are delivered.  The best way to accomplish this is via the Production Part Approval Process or PPAP Process for short.

This process was first developed and used in the automotive industry, but today it is used in many different industries to facilitate proper communication between the supplier and the customer.  The result of this is fewer revisions and turnbacks of the products or parts produced.

What is the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) and What Does It Entail?

The PPAP is a form of documentation standardized according to the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG). It’s one of Core Tools of IATF 16949 to evaluate and improve your Quality Management System (QMS). It demonstrates that the supplier fully understands the requirements of the customer.  It is comprised of 18 requirements which are also known as elements and five (5) PPAP levels of submission.

There is a PPAP manual which gives guidelines in great detail and provides sample documents for proper completion of each element and level of submission.  The result is the hard evidence which shows that the supplier has met the customer’s requirements and has a process that can consistently produce components of quality.

What is the Purpose of the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)?

The main purpose of the PPAP is to ensure that the supplier completely understands the customer’s design and to demonstrate that the supplier can produce the component or parts as required by the customer consistently.

Why Perform PPAP?

It is important to carry out this process as it ensures that the supplier is aware of the requirements of the client.  It allows the client to become familiar with the quality of the product that will be produced and the process involved in making the same.  The PPAP demonstrates that the process can be trusted to repeatedly produce products of the quality that the client desires.  It also facilitates an understanding between the supplier and the customer that the product will meet the required specification and design.  The PPAP allows changes to be made which are in agreement or accordance with the client’s approval and importantly helps to prevent conflicts after the contract.

When is a PPAP Process required?

The PPAP Process may be required for several reasons such as when new parts are being added to the product when changes are being made to the product, the tools being used, and the sub-suppliers, or to the process of production.  If there is an interruption to the production process which exceeds twelve (12) months a PPAP may also be required.   The customer can also require that the supplier perform a PPAP if a serious defect is found in the production process or product.

When to Perform PPAP Process?

The Production Part Approval Process (PPAP Process) should be performed whenever a new part is being added to the processor whenever a change is being made to an existing part.  A customer can also ask that one be done at any point during the product’s lifetime.  As a result, suppliers must ensure that they have a system that is so designed to make and document the various requirements for the PPAP even in cases where one has not been requested.

How to Perform the PPAP Process?

In performing the PPAP, some parts are manufactured using the tools, procedures, facility, personnel and all other features which are expected to be used in the actual production.  The number of parts that are normally made is set.  The sample pieces are then analyzed in different ways to ensure that the manufacturing process is in agreement with the customer’s request.

What are the 5 PPAP Submission Levels?

PPAP Submission Levels

There are five (5) submission levels which are associated with the PPAP which are described below:

  • Level 1 – Part Submission Warrant (PSW) which is submitted only to the customer
  • Level 2 – PSW which has samples of the product and limiting supporting data
  • Level 3 – PSW with a product sample and the complete supporting data
  • Level 4 – PSW and any other requirements based on what the customer desires.
  • Level 5 – PSW with product samples, all of the supporting data for evaluation at the manufacturing location of the supplier.

What are the Required PPAP Elements?

What are the 18 documents of PPAP? As mentioned before there are 18 elements that make up the PPAP and these are:

1. Design Records

This is a drawing of the part being designed. It is normally supplied by the customer with the purchase order.  This drawing is very detailed with including specifications and any information relevant to the part being produced.  This must be included to ensure that the supplier and customer are both discussing the same product.

2. Engineering Change Documentation

This is also called the Supplier Product Engineering Change Notice (SPCN) and details any changes that are being made to the product or the process. As a result, it is only required when a change is being made.

3. Customer Engineering Approval

This approval involves a trial run with the part that is produced and is not always required. However, when required a ‘temporary deviation’ is needed to facilitate submission of the parts to the customer before the approval of the PPAP.

4. Design Failure Mode and Effect Analysis  (DFMEA)

This analysis involves looking at the design of the part or product and assesses the likelihood of it failing and the effect that this would have on the customer or product. It allows for changes to be made which can possible prevent or lessen the likelihood of these failures.

5. Process Flow Diagrams

This diagram demonstrates all the stages of production including the components involved.

6. Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (PFMEA)

This element evaluates the various steps in the process of production to identify any potential risk to the quality of the product. The controls implemented are then documented.

7. Control Plan

This results from the PFMEA and provides details on the various inspection methods which are in place to ensure that there is consistent delivery of products which meet the customer’s requirement.

8. Measurement System Analysis (MSA)

This is a study that incorporates the Gage Repeatability and Reproducibility (GR&R) study on the equipment used for measurement during the control checks on quality and assembly.

9. Dimensional Results

This demonstrates if the sample product passed or failed the dimension test based on the original requirement as laid out on the drawing of the part.

10. Records of Material or Performance Tests

The Design Verification Plan and Report (DVP&R) which is a summary of the entire validation test carried out on the product should be included in this element. Every test carried out along with the results and the method is to be stated.

11. Initial Process Studies – Statistical Process Control (SPC)

This study serves to illustrate that the critical processes are stable, operating close to the nominal value that is intended and shows normal variation. It normally includes the Statistical Process Control.

12. Qualified Laboratory Documentation

This is made up of the certifications for the various labs that were used in validating the part. The labs could have been in-house or contracted off-site.

13. Appearance Approval Report

This is only necessary in cases where the part will contribute to the appearance of the product. The report serves to show that the customer has reviewed the final product, and it has been found to meet the required design.

14. Sample Production Parts

A sample of the part that is produced is normally sent for approval to the customer once development is complete. This part is then stored at either the suppliers’ or customer’s facility.  This element of the PPAP carries a picture of the part along with information as to where the part is being stored.

15. Master Sample

This is the final sample of the part that the customer will inspect and approve. It functions as a benchmark for comparison with other parts that will be produced should the question of quality arise.

16. Checking Aids

This is a list which details all the tools that were used to inspect or test the part.

17. Records of Compliance with Customer Specific Requirements –

This entails any special requirements that the customer may have.

18. Part Submission Warrant (PSW)

This is a summary of the PPAP that is being submitted.


The Advanced Product Quality Planning APQP is the process used when a new product is being introduced into the market or when changes are being incorporated into a product after it has already been released on the market.  The Product Part Approval Process (PPAP) is therefore not the same as the APQP but is a component or an aspect of the APQP.  As a result, if the PPAP is not approved the APQP cannot properly function.

Related:  Engineering Service