The Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) defines the requirements for production part approval, including production and bulk materials. The purpose of PPAP, as published by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG), is to provide evidence that all engineering criteria, design records, and specification requirements are clearly understood by the supplying organization, and that the processes used to manufacture the part can consistently reproduce the part at stated production rates during routine production runs.

Suppliers to the automotive industry are required to obtain PPAP approval any time they change or modify any component used in the production of a part, as well as any time the manufacturing process itself is changed.  To obtain approval for the change, the supplier must provide samples of the finished part and documents to prove that it understands the requirements of the client, can produce the product to meet the client’s requirements, can produce conforming parts, and that it has processes in place to handle non-conforming parts such that they will never reach the client or compromise the reliability or safety of the vehicles in which they are installed.  These requirements apply not only to the actual part, but also to any components supplied by subcontractors.

How the Software Can Help

The package created for PPAP submittal accompanying the Part Submission Warrant (PSW) can be very involved and elaborate depending on the extent of the changes or modifications required.  There are 17 elements that can accompany the PSW, most of which are in record form, and each of those records may have a series of documents contained within for support or clarification.  The control plan, the Process Failure Mode and Effect Analysis (PFMEA), and Records of Material/Performance Tests are all examples of portions of a complete PPAP submittal that can prove to be extensive.

A variety of pre-built software applications have been developed to aid the supplier in the submittal process for the PPAP package.  Some are simple and straightforward, containing only templates of the forms required, while others contain complete FMEA and CAD drawing packages and statistical process analysis to assist electronic submittal.   Many have preloaded document formats to allow for the creation of packages specific to customer requirements, integrated email capabilities to send reminders, and change logging to create a historical audit trail of changes made to product and process information.

PPAP software can save a supplier substantial amounts of money by removing the inefficiencies from the process, including the exorbitant amount of time needed to complete changes to the process flow, redundant data entry, record keeping, and manual approval workflows.  The software can also reduce the possibility of data entry or keystroke errors, mismatched FMEA, process flow, and control plans, and other common human errors that slow the approval process or result in audit findings and compliance risks.

The main benefit of PPAP software comes with continued use. 

Because of the library and historian features found in many of the software programs, changes can be made in one location, and all of the other affected documents will be automatically updated.  Data provided in one format can be transposed to other formats to fit specific applications such as the check sheet, router, control plan, and PFMEA.  Data stored from other PPAPs can be automatically linked to a new PPAP, reducing the time needed to generate the documentation.  Systems analysis and reporting can allow a supplier to create an effective continuous improvement process.  Compliance with other automotive quality specifications can be verified with the PPAP software, including ISO 9001, ISO 13485, ISO 22000, and TS 16949.

PPAP software can be used to help a supplier improve efficiency through document management and authoring tools within the software, increase customer satisfaction through improved supplier product reliability and quality, and meet all of the customer’s specific requirements and standards. It can reduce the demands placed on suppliers resources to develop unique PPAPs for each part for each customer, and can substantially reduce the time and costs associated with the generation of a PPAP package.