PPAP stands for Production Parts Approval Process. It is a standard requirement imposed by OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) in the European and North-American auto industry.
By following the PPAP process in the product development and the pre-production stages, a manufacturer shows its customer that it has taken the steps necessary to ensure mass production will go smoothly.
The 19 elements that are commonly included in a PPAP are listed on this Wikipedia page. The list of documents required may vary slightly from company to company and are listed in the Part Submission Warrant (PSW) form.
It is a must in order to supply parts to many car makers. But some other companies outside the car industry have their own version of the PPAP. It is a good approach for high-volume, high-quality-requirements productions.
PPAP is the ‘state of the art’
When it comes to preparing mass production, the saying “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” is very applicable. I wrote about this before in What Needs to Be Done Before Production Starts.
Basically, when the buyer requests a PPAP, he is actually requesting the suppliers to apply the “Advanced” Product Quality Planning process (APQP).
Why is PPAP so hard?
The difficulty is not to understand what is required — the AIAG published a PPAP manual, and most large companies have prepared a lot of documentation for their suppliers.
The main issue is, the supplier is required to do some serious engineering work (FMEAs, application of several statistical tools, preparation of checking aids) and has to do pilot run with the same materials, methods, and equipment as mass production. As most importers have probably noticed, Chinese manufacturers are not keen on spending a lot of time and energy in the pre-production stage…