Precision metal stampings are a critical component of so many products. Automotive components, medical devices, electronic parts – all contain metal stampings. For the part or the device to function properly, the stamping needs to be free of defects and of perfect quality.
We continue our metal stamping quality article series with a discussion on APQP.
Automotive industry refuses to take chances with precision metal stamping quality.
Poor quality is not an option with the automotive industry. That’s why the ‘Big Three’ (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) created Advanced Product Quality Planning, better known as APQP.
So what is APQP? Technically, “it’s a guide in the development process and also a standard way to share results between suppliers and automotive companies.” More simply put, it’s a way of making sure the automotive companies are involved in every step of the development and launch process with their suppliers – to ensure nothing goes wrong. Why? Ultimately, to ensure the ‘Big Three’s’ customers are satisfied with their automobiles.
APQP is typically deployed in 5 concurrent and collaborative phases:
Plan and Define Program
Product Design and Development
Process Design and Development
Product and Process Validation
Launch, Feedback, Assessment, and Corrective Action
Some of the questions that can be addressed through the APQP process are:
Can the product/process be error proofed?
Can the product/process achieve a higher level of capability through tolerance design and/or process variation reduction?
What controls must be developed to ensure that defects cannot reach a customer?
The APQP process actually monitors 23 topics before production is even started. Topics like design robustness, design testing, quality inspection standards, product packaging, and more.
Metal stamping companies need to be prepared.
There are a lot of suppliers wanting automotive business. Automotive manufacturers and the companies that represent them can demand that their suppliers abide by APQP processes.
And that requirement certainly applies to metal stamping companies as well. Automotive suppliers need to ensure the metal stamping companies they do business with are committed to APQP and should insist they:
Establish and continually monitor company-wide APQP processes
Utilize APQP tools such as Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) to ensure quality
Utilize advanced technology to verify stamping quality, thicknesses, and dimensions (sensors and gauges)
Implement sophisticated quality control plans and tools to ensure consistency and zero defect parts (i.e. Statistical Process Control (SPC)
Adhere to the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)
With these controls in place, metal stamping companies can do their part to ensure the automotive manufacturers achieve their ultimate goal of customer satisfaction.