Trial Run, or Production Trial Run (PTR) is a systematic evaluation and validation of the manufacturing process before starting the serial production. During a PTR, the project
team evaluates and validates, that design requirements and customer expectations are integrated into the manufacturing process, by manufacturing products with serial circumstances based on a pre-launch
. PTR is an essential part of Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP)
especially its 4th section: Product and Process Validation. In the automotive industry, PTR is a mandatory element, however it can be used in any other industry in order to assure, that the pre-defined processes are
followed, and the customer requirements are met during the manufacturing process.
Source: qMindset.com; AIAG APQP manual
PTR has to be performed before launching a new product, so it must be ahead of Start of Production (SOP), and the 0-series. In addition, both Product and Process design phases
need to be closed before the PTR.
General requirements and inputs for PTR:
- Quality system review.
- Floor layout.
- Process Flow Chart (PFC).
- Pre-launch Control Plan (pre-launch CP).
- Released Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (PFMEA).
- Finalized process instructions (e.g. work instructions, inspection instructions).
- Measurement System Analysis plan (MSA).
- Preliminary process capability study plan.
- Packaging standards and specifications.
Without the above listed elements, a proper PTR cannot be performed and evaluated. After conducting the PTR, it provides key information and inputs to the team, being able to
evaluate and assess the maturity and effectiveness of the production.
Outputs of PTR and parallel quality processes:
- Measurement System Evaluation (based on conducting all points of the MSA plan).
- Process capability study (based on the process capability study plan) and process review.
- Production Part Approval (PPA).
- Production Validation Testing.
- Packaging Evaluation (based on packaging specs).
- Finalized production Control Plan (Production CP).
- Final feasibility and First Time Capability (FTC).
- Quality planning sign-off.
Source: qMindset.com; AIAG APQP manual
All preliminary APQP phases must be closed before Product and Process Validation, so never start a PTR without a design freeze (drawings, specifications, DFMEA, prototype builds,
supplied parts, etc. are approved).
Furthermore, the following features must be available for conducting a PTR:
- Production equipment and tooling (e.g. machinery, fixture, gauges, jigs).
- Released mass production raw materials.
- Finalized facility and production environment.
- Pre-launch CP.
- Released PFMEA.
- Finalized Processes and documentation (work instructions, visual aids, etc.).
- Trained staff.
- Mass production line speed (cycle times and takt times).
The minimal quantity of parts produced during a PTR is set by the customer, however it can be exceeded based on the proposal of the project team (e.g. the customer requires 1
shift of continuous production, but the project team conducts a 2-shift PTR).
In many cases the Production Trial Run (PTR) and the automotive industry relevant Run at Rate (R@R) are overlapping each other. There are OEMs, which consider PTR as a
, and participate during the whole PTR, not only performing a process release audit, but calculating effectiveness and capacities.
In order to avoid issues during Run@Rate, the supplier should perform its own PTR without customer attendance, weeks or months prior to the Run@Rate.
Never underestimate the outcome of a PTR, and use the trial run as a prefect input for further improvements. Any issue, that comes up during a PTR must be eliminated with
corrective actions. Without management sign-off, the Start of Production (SOP)
cannot be initiated, and the customer will neither release the PPAP,
if the PTR does not reflect, that the quality and quantity
demands are fulfilled.
Machines and process parameters should be set months before the PTR, so you can achieve high Cmk (machine capability) and Cpk (process capability) already at the time of the
trial run. Having Cmk values under 1,67 during the PTR will cause a strong headache for you and your customer, as it will delay the production approval.
Not only prototype parts are tested further (e.g. life-time testing) on product level, but the pre-launch parts produced on a PTR as well, usually the OEM assembles them into
pre-launch vehicles for validation.
Some OEMs (e.g. Ford) require not only one, but more PTRs, which are being conducted in separated PPAP phases.
Source: qMindset.com; AIAG APQP manual; Ford Phased PPAP