What are the PPAP Submission Levels?

When a PPAP is mandated by your customer, they often specify a particular submission level. The specific elements to be submitted to the customer vary based on the part and the stipulations outlined in the purchase order. As outlined in the AIAG PPAP manual, it is recommended to complete all elements. The PPAP levels (levels 1, 2, 3, 4, ppap), serve as a guide, delineating the documents to be presented to the customer and those that can be kept on record by the manufacturer.

  1. Level 1 PPAP – Part Submission Warrant (PSW) Only:
    • No other PPAP documentation is required.
    • Submission of the Part Submission Warrant (PSW) forms only.
  2. Level 2 PPAP – PSW with Product Samples:
    • Submission of the PSW form along with product samples.
    • This level includes dimensional results and limited supporting documentation.
  3. Level 3 PPAP – PSW with Limited Supporting Data:
    • Submission of the PSW along with additional supporting documents.
    • This level involves more comprehensive testing and validation data than Level 2.
  4. Level 4 PPAP – PSW with Full Approval:
    • Submission of the PSW along with complete supporting documentation.
    • This level requires a complete set of data, including control plans, process flow diagrams, and measurement system analysis.
  5. Level 5 PPAP – PSW with Customer-Specific Requirements:
    • Submission of the PSW with additional documents as specified by the customer.
    • This level includes any additional requirements beyond the standard PPAP documentation.

It’s important to note that the specific requirements and terminology might be updated, so it’s advisable to refer to the latest AIAG PPAP manual or consult with the relevant automotive industry standards for the most current information. Additionally, different industries or organizations may have variations in their PPAP requirements.

Introductions to The PPAP Submission Levels

PPAP, an acronym for Production Part Approval Process (pronounced P-PAP), serves as a crucial manufacturing inspection protocol aimed at verifying a supplier’s capability to consistently produce components for large-scale manufacturing. This systematic process instills confidence in component suppliers and their production methods, proving indispensable in today’s competitive manufacturing landscape where cost, control, and sustained high-quality outputs are paramount for a company’s success. The escalating costs of resources like equipment, materials, and labor, coupled with the global expansion of markets, have led to an upswing in outsourced parts, often sourced from overseas manufacturers. This trend, while offering advantages, also introduces challenges such as extended lead times and larger order quantities. Consequently, the delivery of high-quality components meeting customer specifications on the first attempt has become imperative.

Initially embraced by the automotive and aerospace sectors, PPAP has transcended industry boundaries and is now a widely adopted practice to enhance communication and deliver quality products. The primary reference for PPAP information within the automotive industry is the manual published by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG).

PPAP serves as a validation mechanism for production processes, involving thorough inspections of parts before, during, and after production runs. The comprehensive PPAP report encompasses an examination of 18 key requirements, including design records, authorized engineering changes, engineering approval, dimensional results, and control plans, among others.

Embedded in the suite of 5 Core Quality Tools, alongside APQP, FMEA, MSA, and SPC, PPAP is an integral component of effective quality management. In certain industries, such as automotive and aerospace, PPAP is mandated, underscoring its critical role in ensuring robust and reliable production processes.

PPAP Levels; Level 1 PPAP, Level 2 PPAP, Level 3 PPAP, Level 4 PPAP, Level 5 PPAP
PPAP Levels

What’s in a PPAP Document?

The PPAP report comprises 18 essential elements, each contributing to the validation of the production process, Each submission level requires a PSW (PPAP Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5), but as you can see, each level above the first requires some extra amount of supporting material. So, there is a checklist of 18 potential aspects that either need to be submitted to the customer, or retained by the supplier and provided to the customer on request.

PPAP 18 Elements:

  1. Design Documentation:
    • Inclusive of customer and supplier drawings, and purchase orders.
    • Material composition documentation may be required.
  2. Engineering Change Documentation:
    • Inclusion of Engineering Change Notice (ECN) for requested changes, approved by the customer engineering department.
  3. Customer Engineering Approval:
    • Evidence of approval by the customer engineering department when required.
  4. Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (DFMEA):
    • A cross-functional analysis of design risks and potential failure modes.
  5. Process Flow Diagram:
    • Graphical representation outlining the entire production process.
  6. Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (PFMEA):
    • Review of production process steps to identify and document potential quality risks and applied controls.
  7. Control Plan:
    • Listing of product special characteristics and inspection methods.
  8. Measurement System Analysis (MSA) Studies:
  9. Dimensional Results:
    • Layout of sample parts to validate adherence to specifications.
  10. Records of Material/Performance Tests:
    • Inclusion of Design Verification Plan and Report (DVP&R) summarizing validation tests.
  11. Initial Process Studies:
  12. Qualified Laboratory Documentation:
    • Certification of labs involved in validation testing.
  13. Appearance Approval Report:
    • Verification of product appearance against specified requirements.
  14. Sample Production Parts:
    • Submission and documentation of sample production parts for customer approval.
  15. Master Sample:
    • The final approved product sample was used as a benchmark for comparison.
  16. Checking Aids:
    • Detailed list of tools for inspecting, testing, or measuring parts during assembly.
  17. Customer Specific Requirements:
  18. Part Submission Warrant:
    • Summary form covering the entire PPAP submission, including the reason for submission and supplier declaration.
PPAP Elements & PPAP Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
PPAP Elements & PPAP Levels 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

How to Conduct a Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)?

Executing the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) involves a comprehensive set of procedures. This intricate process comprises essential elements essential for validating the capability of the production process to deliver a high-quality product. It’s worth noting that not all elements are mandatory for every PPAP submission. The specific requirements for a PPAP are typically discussed and determined during the quoting process.

PPAP Implementation:

  1. Who Performs PPAP:
    • Suppliers or the production team are responsible for creating the PPAP report, which is then reviewed by the customer.
  2. When PPAP Is Required:
    • PPAP is typically required for the production of new parts or in the event of changes to the product or process. This includes:
      • Introducing a new part or product.
      • Implementing changes or corrections related to design, materials, supply, or function.
      • Modifying processes, such as method, tools, location, or inspection criteria.
      • Reactivating inactive tooling after more than one year.
      • Changes in suppliers.
  3. PPAP Approval Process:
    • After the product design, the manufacturing of parts is often outsourced to suppliers. Suppliers create PPAP reports to demonstrate compliance with specifications and intended functionality.
    • The manufacturer’s quality or engineering team reviews the PPAP package for approval. If approved, mass production can commence; otherwise, corrections must be made and resubmitted.
    • Although the responsibility for creating and submitting PPAP lies with the supplier, the process is typically conducted closely with the manufacturer’s quality team.

Importance of PPAP Levels

PPAP holds significance for the following three reasons:

  1. Quality Assurance & Reproducibility:
    • Allows customers (manufacturers or OEMs) to validate the supplier’s ability to consistently deliver the required quality and quantity of products under normal production conditions.
  2. Communication & Understanding:
    • Facilitates the understanding of the customer’s product requirements and specifications by the suppliers.
  3. Documentation & Compliance:
    • Enables both the customer and supplier to establish, agree upon, and document expectations, ensuring compliance with predefined standards.

In the fiercely competitive manufacturing industry, successful companies focus on reducing costs, accelerating time to market, and maintaining or enhancing product quality. Ensuring the production of quality parts from the outset and implementing corrective measures early in the lifecycle proves more cost-effective than dealing with rework, scrap, or product recalls.

PPAP plays a pivotal role in achieving a reliable and repeatable manufacturing process, enforcing a standard that aligns with industry best practices.

Issues Detected by PPAP

Common problems detected by PPAP include:

  • Incorrect or inadequate production processes (e.g., equipment).
  • Flawed or unclear product design.
  • Inconsistent or substandard quality of materials.
  • Variability in quality control measures.

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