Monthly beauty: Porsche 911 Carrera S
Source: - the quality management portal launched! Check out our Knowledge Base, News, Company Database and more...
Everything about quality management, quality products and quality companies.
Events / News
Quality knowledge base - article QA-0023
Updated on 05-01-2017

Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)

The abbreviation APQP stands for Advanced Product Quality Planning, which is a widely used systematic method to plan quality up front, in order to fulfil customer requirements, and to reach customer satisfaction. APQP is not only a method, but also a structured framework, which defines exact steps to reach the serial production of a product in time, without risks, quality failures, delayed changes and unexpected costs.
The APQP manual was being developed by the big three US carmakers (Chrysler, Ford, General Motors) for years before its first release in 1994, published by AIAG, to provide guidelines to suppliers and sub-contractors in the automotive business. It is in close relation to various procedures, practices, quality tools, and analytical techniques, such as FMEA, SPC, PPAP, MSA, and follows the PDCA methodology.
As APQP was developed by automakers, it is mostly widespread in the automotive industry, however the framework itself was usable by many other industry sectors, and had been adapted by companies in sectors such as information technology, consumer goods, aerospace, etc.
TEST ADVERTISEMENT (for temporary testing purposes, source:
Key Features
In order to realize products with flawless quality, not only the process, but the product design must be robust as well by all means. Keeping this in mind, the APQP process contains five major sections (also called phases):
  • Plan and Define Program.
  • Product Design and Development Verification.
  • Process Design and Development Verification.
  • Product and Process Validation.
  • Feedback, Assessment and Corrective Action.
Quality Management
Product Quality Planning timing chart (Source: AIAG APQP Manual)
Going from concept to product launch, each section of APQP is ending with an evaluation meeting (also called quality gates), when the team and the steering committee evaluates the actual condition of the relevant activities in the given phase. These activities are:
  • Planning
  • Product Design and Development
  • Process Design and Development
  • Product and Process Validation
  • Production
To avoid misunderstandings, the sections and activities of APQP are two different terms. Section (or phase) means a given frame, divided by quality gates, while activities can be concurrent, overlapping sections (e.g. there is a time-frame, when both product and process development are running, while feedback and assessment are covering the whole APQP process). This also means collaboration between design, manufacturing and quality engineers (in other words: Simultaneous Engineering).
The following table represents the APQP phases and outputs:
The APQP Phases and Elements
APQP phase / section Elements / Points (AIAG APQP manual)
Plan and Define Program INPUTS:
Voice of customer
Business Plan / Strategy
Product / Process Benchmark Data
Product / Process Assumptions
Product Reliability Studies
Customer Inputs
Design Goals
Reliability and Quality Goals
Preliminary Bill of Material
Preliminary Process Flow Chart
Preliminary Listing of Special Product and Process Characteristics
Product Assurance Plan
Management Support
Quality gate 1 Preparation approval by the Steering committee
Product Design and Development Verification Design Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (DFMEA)
Design for Manufacturability and Assembly
Design Verification
Design Reviews
Prototype Build
Engineering Drawings
Engineering Specifications
Material Specifications
Drawing and Specification Changes
New Equipment, Tooling and Facilities Requirements
Special Product and Process Characteristics
Prototype Control Plan (CP)
Gages / Testing Equipment Requirements
Team Feasibility Commitment & Management Support
Quality gate 2 Prototype approval by the Steering committee
Process Design and Development Verification Packaging Standards
Product / Process Quality System Review
Process Flow Chart
Floor Plan Layout
Characteristics Matrix
Process Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (PFMEA)
Pre-launch Control Plan (CP)
Process Instructions
Measurement System Analysis (MSA) Plan
Preliminary Process Capability Study Plan
Packaging Specifications
Management Support
Quality gate 3 Pilot approval by the Steering committee
Product and Process Validation Production Trial Run
Measurement Systems Evaluation
Preliminary Process Capability Study
Production Part Approval
Production Validation Testing
Packaging Evaluation
Production Control Plan (CP)
Quality Management Sign-off and Management Support
Quality gate 4 Serial approval by the Steering committee
Serial phase Reduced Variation
Customer Satisfaction
Delivery and Service
Although the AIAG APQP manual defines APQP elements and project milestones in a logical and systematic way, many companies defined a very similar, but slightly different structure of the Product Engineering / Development Process (PEP / PDP). The whole process is divided into sections, but it contains many overlapping and iterations from development and realization point of view, based on PDCA and DMAIC principles:
A brief summary of the Product Engineering Process (PEP)
Phases and Quality Gates Elements / Points
Project Kick-off
Phase 1 – Preparation and planning of project (pre-development) Customer requirements and latent needs, preliminary special characteristics
Definition of product functions, Quantitative customer requirements, QFD (Quality Function Deployment) for requirements to functions
Feasibility studies, Analysis of new technologies
Sketches and drafts, Rough mechanical and electrical concepts (CAD / CAM, GD&T, etc.)
Design of system and system elements, Cost estimation
Design of rough processes, Revised cost estimation
Quality Management Gate 1 (milestone)
Phase 2 – Product / Process concept Design concepts (selection of concept)
Specifications, Special product characteristics, Safety requirements
Manufacturability (producibility) evaluation
Test planning concept, Testing and diagnostic specifications
Cost assessment for possible quotation
DRBFM, DFMEA, QFD for system level
Process parameter and product characteristic cause-effect relationship, QFD for process level
Functional safety analysis
Concept for draft PFMEA and prototype CP (Control Plan), Production layout, Lean and VSD (Value Stream Design)
Selection of supplied parts / components
Quality Management Gate 2 (milestone)
Phase 3 – Product / Process development Finalized design and raw materials
CAD / CAM design (for series parts and components), Verified product safety concept
Update DFMEA, DRBFM, QFD for process level
Production process planning, Production line design, PFMEA, Pre-series CP
Prototype production (B-samples)
Prototype testing plan with DoE (Design of Experiments) principles
Prototype testing and validation, Released production parameters, Product design freeze
Series BOM (Bill of Materials)
Quality Management Gate 3 (milestone)
Phase 4 – Product / Process realization Production line setup, Capability studies (Cmk), MSA (Measurement System Analysis)
PTR (Production Trial Runs), Production of C-samples
Creation of DV (Design Validation) plan with DoE principles
DV test on C-samples together with the customer in series conditions
Final product release
Activate change management (for process and product design)
Reliability testing and product audit plans
Finalized processes, Packaging specification
Production process release, Run at Rate (evidence of production capability), Series CP and testing
Production of 0-series builds (D-samples), ISIR submission (AIAG PPAP or VDA PPF)
Customer release, SOP (Start of Production), SOD (Start of Delivery)
Quality Management Gate 4 (milestone)
Phase 5 – Serial phase and production ramp-up Customer care, Warranty support, Claim management
Frequent product audits
Ramp-up quality assurance (increased testing)
Lessons learned (product / project)
The benefits of APQP are comprehensive, providing quality, prestige and last but not least financial advantages:
  • On time serial production of a quality product with long-term reliability.
  • Increases prestige and reputation of the company among customers.
  • Sets quality planning into a systematic frame.
  • Minimizes design risks.
  • Minimizes process risks.
  • Bundles the resources and directs them towards the project goal.
  • Helps to avoid quality issues, thus reducing unexpected costs.
Source:; AIAG APQP Manual
APQP is a key sub-frame of the Project Management process. While PM covers the whole project with all its elements, APQP does the same with all the quality related points. In order to reach the risk, and failure free manufacturing condition, the APQP team must work in structure.
Focus on finding the risks and potential failures up front. The earlier the team finds them, the less resource you have to spend on them.
Design freeze (the time after no design change is allowed) is a very crucial milestone. Defining its date is essential, and the needed amount of time must be spent on effective testing. Design verification can save you from plenty of headaches, money, and you won’t lose face.
Use lessons learned (LL) databases even if the subject of a new project is not very similar to a previous product. The experience of the past can help a lot!
  • APQP stands for Advanced Product Quality Planning, and it is a widely used, systematic method to plan quality up front, in order to fulfil customer requirements and to reach customer satisfaction.
  • APQP is not only a method, but also a structured framework, which defines exact steps to reach the serial production of a product in time, without risks, quality failures, late changes and unexpected costs.
  • The APQP manual was first published in 1994 by AIAG, and has been developed by Chrysler, Ford and General Motors.
  • A proper APQP process provides quality, prestige and financial advantages.
Source:; AIAG APQP Manual
Relevant Topics
Project Planning and Elaboration
Product Engineering Process (PEP)
Project Planning and Elaboration
Quality Function Deployment (QFD)
Project Planning and Elaboration
Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
Project Planning and Elaboration
Control Plan (CP)
Project Planning and Elaboration
Quality Assurance Matrix (QAM)
Project Planning and Elaboration
Special Characteristics (SC)
Project Planning and Elaboration
Quality Review / Milestone
Project Planning and Elaboration
Kick-off Meeting
Project Planning and Elaboration
Start of Production (SOP)
Project Planning and Elaboration
Cost of Quality
Project Planning and Elaboration
Lessons Learned (LL)
Process Control and Analysis
Measurement System Analysis (MSA)
Process Control and Analysis
Machine- and Process Capability
Fact sheet
General information about product quality planning.

Topic / Article: Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)
Term Category: Project Planning and Elaboration
Business Sector: Automotive
Timing: From concept to series production
Files, Attachments: None
Term Up-to-date
Scroll to Top