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Quality knowledge base - article QA-0019
Updated on 05-01-2017

Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)

Approving and releasing a product, or a part is essential before serial production. In order to assure that the requirements are fulfilled, the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) has developed and initiated a process, the so called Production Part Approval Process, or PPAP as it is referred to in the automotive supply chain. After its first release in 1993, PPAP is still a generally used process in the automotive industry, actually having its 4th edition, which was released in 2006.
The purpose of PPAP is not only a documented part release process, but also to improve the automotive supply chain. By signing the documentation, the supplier provides written evidence, that the customer requirements are understood and kept, and the customer signs off the PPAP upon product release.
PPAP improves customer satisfaction, by the following aspects:
  • Supports part conformance, and its approval.
  • Assists to properly manage supplier and design changes.
  • Maintains a framework to avoid the usage of unapproved (and potentially non-conform) parts.
PPAP is a major element of the Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) framework, included in it’s 4th phase: "Product and Process Validation". In addition, PPAP has mutual relation to Measurement System Analysis (MSA), Statistical Process Control (SPC), Failure Mode- and Effects Analysis (FMEA).
Source:; AIAG PPAP Manual
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Key Features
Although PPAP is an industry-specific process that has key elements, many automotive OEMs have developed it further, with additional requirements. The generally accepted, AIAG-specified PPAP manual contains eighteen elements, as follows:
  • (1) Design Records
    All released specifications, drawings, and design records (functional, test, appearance records, etc.), related to the relevant part or product, including critical characteristics. The drawing can be either supplier made, or customer made, depending on who is responsible for the design.
    Used for: to prove that the drawings and specifications are mutually agreed on.
  • (2) Engineering Change Documents
    The package of all engineering change documents, what describe the change that generated the given PPAP process (e.g. approved engineering change notifications, customer requests, feasibility studies, etc.).
    Used for: to prove that both parties have common understanding about the change.
  • (3) Customer Engineering Approval
    Contains the documents, by which the customer released the design. In addition, deviation approvals, concessions must be attached, if any.
    Used for: to prove that the customer has accepted and approved the design.
  • (4) Design Failure Mode- and Effects Analysis (DFMEA)
    The released and valid DFMEA cover sheet, or the complete DFMEA documentation. As DFMEA is know-how related, the designer of the product (can be either the supplier, or the customer – or both) defines the level of information to share with the counter-party. In many cases, the supplier only submits the cover sheet of the DFMEA, and shows the document during customer visits.
    Used for: to prove that the design related risks are identified and managed.
  • (5) Process Flow Diagram / Process Flow Chart (PFC)
    The complete material handling and manufacturing process flow of the supplier, shown in a visual flow-chart format from incoming goods to packaging and delivery.
    Used for: to prove that the processes are logically set and elaborated.
  • (6) Process Failure Mode- and Effects Analysis (PFMEA)
    Such as in the case of DFMEA, the PFMEA cover sheet, or the complete PFMEA is included in the PPAP package, depending on know-how management.
    Used for: to prove that the process related risks are identified and managed.
  • (7) Control Plan (CP)
    This point contains a copy of the Control Plan, signed off by both parties. Many suppliers only show the complete CP to the customer physically, but do not submit the complete copy.
    Used for: to prove that quality controls (tests, measurements, etc.) are planned and elaborated in the whole process.
  • (8) Measurement System Analysis (MSA) Studies
    The MSA study is a statistical tool, which evaluates and summarizes if the measurement system is capable and stable enough to properly measure. This point of the PPAP contains the MSA study of all relevant measurement machines, gauges, and other such equipment.
    Used for: to prove that all measurement systems can measure with low variation.
  • (9) Dimensional Results
    The summary table of all measured dimensions according to the product drawing. It proves, that the product is conform to the specification.
    Used for: to prove that all dimensions of the product are in specification range.
  • (10) Material / Performance Test Results
    The material test results show the outcome of tests concerning the base materials, or compounds of the product, e.g. whether the physical, mechanical, chemical, metallurgical properties meet the specifications. The performance test results are a different subject, as these address the functional and performance related attributes (whether the functionality of the product meets the requirements).
    Used for: to prove that both material and functional attributes of the product meet the requirements.
  • (11) Initial Process Studies (Capability Studies)
    Before producing the PPAP samples, the supplier has to perform capability analysis on all manufacturing processes (and machines), and the initial process studies summarize the capability data of all machines (Cmk), and processes (Cpk), so it is in close conjunction with Statistical Process Control (SPC). Many suppliers attach the table of capabilities into the Control Plan.
    Used for: to prove that all machines, and processes are capable to turn inputs into outputs on a stable, consistent way.
  • (12) Qualified Laboratory Documentation
    In many cases, some tests can only be in special internal or external (3rd party) laboratories. This point of the PPAP package shows, whether the given laboratory is accredited for the given test.
    Used for: to prove that your lab (or the external lab) is capable, and accredited for the given testing method.
  • (13) Appearance Approval Report (AAR)
    This report is essential mainly for aesthetic parts, or any other products, that have visual requirements. The report summarizes all visual (color, appearance, quality of surface finishing, etc.) attributes, and whether all of them are conform to the customer specification.
    Used for: to prove that the product meets the appearance requirements.
  • (14) Sample Production Parts
    These are the sample parts, what were produced during the PPAP production run, and will be shipped with the PPAP submission in serial packaging. The customer has the right to give the requested quantity.
    Used for: to prove that not only the documentation, but the parts are satisfying the customer needs.
  • (15) Master Sample
    The master sample means one (or more) reference samples, what are kept in store for many years (usually 15 years) at the supplier’s site. The customer keeps samples from the sample production parts, but also can order parts as master samples. Master samples (or golden samples) can also be used for evidence, or analysis purposes (in case of any upcoming debates), so it is suggested to produce more than one piece.
    Used for: to prove that the first parts that were produced under serial conditions meet all the specifications and customer requirements. It is highly suggested to keep 5-10 master samples from the zero-series for later use (for example you can use them as an evidence, or compare them with subsequent serial parts).
  • (16) Checking Aids
    This section provides details, photos, drawings, etc. about any aids that can be used by the supplier and / or the customer (e.g. a special plug or jig to counter-check connectors before assembling them).
    Used for: to prove that the checking aids (jigs, gauges, etc.) are suitable for the serial use to counter-check parts.
  • (17) Records of Compliance with Customer-Specific Requirements
    The given point of the PPAP can be very complex, as especially in the automotive industry, many OEMs have customer-specific requirements on top of the AIAG PPAP manual. These requirements are collected and reflected in this point. Note: many automotive OEMs have different PPAP structure, so the various customer-specific requirements are allocated in other points, which can result a 30, or 40 points long PPAP package.
    Used for: to prove that the customer-specific requirements are understood, and integrated in the PPAP.
  • (18) Part Submission Warrant (PSW)
    The part submission warrant is a form, used as a cover sheet of the whole PPAP package, collecting major information about the PPAP, including the part’s name, part number, reason for the submission, the submission level, and many other essential details. This is the document, which is signed by the customer, if the PPAP is released.
    Used for: to summarize the PPAP on one sheet, that can be signed off by the customer upon release.
Having all elements is mandatory, however the level of the PPAP indicates what documents need to be submitted to the customer. There are five levels of the PPAP, and the customer defines for the supplier, what PPAP level is requested before the whole approval process:
  • PPAP Level 1: Warrant (PSW) only submitted to the customer. Note: in case of appearance items, the AAR as well.
  • PPAP Level 2: Warrant (PSW) with product samples – and limited supporting data – submitted to the customer.
  • PPAP Level 3: Warrant (PSW) with product samples – and complete supporting data – submitted to the customer.
  • PPAP Level 4: Warrant (PSW) and customer specified requirements submitted to the customer.
  • PPAP Level 5: Warrant (PSW) with product samples – and complete supporting data – reviewed at the supplier’s manufacturing location.
The following table contains the submission (S) / retention (R) requirements for each PPAP level:
Retention (R) and Submission (S) of PPAP elements
PPAP Elements Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
(1) Design Records R
* R
(2) Engineering Change Documents R
* R
(3) Customer Engineering Approval R R
* R
* R
(5) PFC R R
* R
* R
(7) CP R R
* R
(8) MSA R R
* R
(9) Dimensional Results R
* R
(10) Material / Performance Test Results R
* R
(11) Initial Process Studies (Capability Studies) R R
* R
(12) Qualified Laboratory Documentation R
* R
(13) AAR
* R
(14) Sample Production Parts R
* R
(15) Master Sample R R R * R
(16) Checking Aids R R R * R
(17) Records of Compliance with Customer-Specific Requirements R R
* R
(18) PSW
S (submission) – The organization shall submit to the customer and retain a copy of records or documentation items at appropriate locations.
R (retention) - The organization shall retain at appropriate locations and make available to the customer upon request.
* (other) - The organization shall retain at appropriate locations and submit to the customer upon request.
Source:; AIAG PPAP Manual
Though PPAP was developed by AIAG, it has been adopted by various other business sectors. The aerospace business also uses the methodology very similar to the PPAP.
PPAP is not only required in case of the introduction of a new product. There are many occasions and reasons, what also initiate the need of the approval process. These reasons can be:
  • Introduction of a new part or product.
  • New manufacturing process or technology.
  • Change in the manufacturing process.
  • New or changed testing process.
  • New or changed supplier, sub-supplier (changed source).
  • Change of material or component.
  • New or changed tooling.
  • Equipment or complete production transfer.
  • Restart of production after 12 month of inactivity.
  • Correction of discrepancy.
As a supplier, you must proactively inform your customers about the potential changes, and have to agree with them on the PPAP procedure (e.g. what PPAP level they request for submission). Proactive activity increases trust, and can save you from inconvenient questions later, during process audits.
Before the PPAP process, you need to ask your customer’s approval for the initiation of the change with a change request. The main intention is always the same: to inform and to ask for an approval from the customer about the intended change. The name of the document may vary based on the requesting organization’s quality policies, for example:
  • Engineering Change Request (ECR).
  • Engineering Change Notification (ECN).
  • Supplier Change Request (SCR).
PPAP is a confidential documentation between the two affected parties (supplier and customer), so giving out any information is only allowed if both parties agree on it.
The PPAP takes time, and resource (huge load of both administrative and physical work), so don’t skimp with it. Despite the identification of risks is essential in the design phase, it is still better to identify an issue during the PPAP, instead of the serial production. A properly performed PPAP can save you from many inconvenient issues. ("If we had done the PPAP precisely, we could have managed this serial issue with much less money and resources).
The customer can either release, conditionally release, or reject the PPAP, depending on the deviations and risks concerning the affected product. Conditional release can mean a limited time, or a limited quantity.
  • PPAP stands for Production Part Approval Process.
  • The purpose of PPAP is to provide evidence, that the supplier has understood all customer needs, and its production is able to consistently produce parts at the quoted production rate, with meeting all customer requirements.
  • PPAP was developed by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) in 1993, but is not only used in the automotive industry.
  • The standardized check-list (based on the PPAP manual) contains 18 elements, and 5 different submission levels, but many organizations in the supply chain have elaborated their own check-list with additional elements.
Source:; AIAG PPAP Manual
Relevant Topics
Audits and Release
Process Audit
Audits and Release
Run at Rate
Audits and Release
Trial Run
Audits and Release
Product Audit
Audits and Release
Part Submission Warrant (PSW)
Project Planning and Elaboration
Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)
Process Control and Analysis
Measurement System Analysis (MSA)
Process Control and Analysis
Machine- and Process Capability
Process Control and Analysis
End of Line Test (EOL)
Process Control and Analysis
Golden Sample
Fact sheet
General information about the Production Part Approval Process.

Topic / Article: Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)
Term Category: Audits and Release
Business Sector: Automotive
Timing: Before SOP
Files, Attachments: None
Term Up-to-date
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