The Process of APQP

The Auto Bolt Company makes fasteners and as such has a clear understanding of our competency.  We have full product and manufacturing knowledge with almost 75 years of fastener making experience.  Back at our start in 1948, the world war had been over for a couple of years and life was almost back to normal.  People were working and buying everything.  Suppliers were doing whatever was necessary to satisfy the Customers’ expectations with no real structure to the ‘coffee pot’ talks on production design.  Along with the power ballads of the 80’s, Ford Motor Company introduced Advanced Quality Planning. This is a formalized, structured approach, with core tools, that addresses the possibilities for failure during product realization and how you will minimize / eliminate them.

If you are new to the APQP (Advanced Product Quality Process) process or if you want a bit of in-use understanding, keep reading.  The AIAG (Automotive Industry Action Group) has the standards available for sale.  This discussion identifies the steps and how Auto Bolt utilizes them.

                The process of APQP involves bringing all the affected parties (Cross-functional Team) together to formalize the processes that supplies the Customer their product.  We at Auto Bolt utilize APQP when

  • A new product line is introduced
  • A new Customer is realized
  • Supporting a product or process change
  • Lessons learned can be applied to like product

As you will see below, the bulk of the processes are in advance of production.  These can best be described as defining the risks associated with product realization and what you will do if / when the risk is encountered.  Sections 0 through 3, address planning and prevention while section 4 and 5, address validation and evidence.  APQP also greatly supports the natural pursuit of continuous improvement. 

Section 0 – Pre-planning

                Initiated during the quotation stage where assumptions, concepts and past knowledge are utilized that generate the best possible cost for the Customer.

Section 1 – Plan and Define

                We have won the job and now must produce it.  This is the time to weave the Customer's wants, needs, desires and expectations to their requirements.  Also, a good time to build lasting relationships with the Customer's Design Team; a good source for clarity when required.

Section 2 – Product Design and Development

                This step is not utilized at Auto Bolt as we are not design responsible.  When necessary, we can make suggestions to industry standards that encompass the design or answer questions the Customer may have.  This would be the step to generate prototype and testing to verify the design.

Section 3 – Process Design and Development

                The time for our Engineering Team to draw up the tooling needed, create the routing, generate any Customer specific specifications, and get the job ready for the machine.  All purchased products are ordered and any testing or gaging not available in-house is sourced.  This section allows for evaluation of production technique and measuring / validating the production process with Customer expectation.

Section 4 – Product and Process Validation

                Right about now, we are ready to look at the production process analytics.  A deep dive into all aspects of production, from Quality through machine capacity.  An opportunity to strengthen what needs improving while looking at what worked for improvements.

Section 5 – Assessment and Corrective Action

                This is a long-term review after several production runs.  A review of any improvements made and the benefit to the process. Improvements can again be made as applicable and Corrective Actions instituted when expected outcome is not realized.

                As you have seen, when implemented, APQP is a great tool to utilize to save time, money, aggravation and keep Customers.  Join us soon for the next installment of the APQP process, Failure Effect Mode Analysis.

Quality Assurance

Contact us at 800.988.BOLT, or visit for all your fastener requirements.

Topics 5 Core Tools

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