The New APQP Reference Manual – Critical Concepts for Automotive Suppliers to Know


APQP Phases for product developmentAbout the Newly Released AIAG APQP Reference Manual Third Edition

A revised Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) reference manual was developed and released by the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) in March 2024 as the 3rd edition of the core tool.  Issuance of the revised reference manual continues to illustrate the importance of APQP as a critical core tool within IATF 16949® -the automotive quality management system (QMS). Compliance to the newly revised reference manual will be determined by the customers via their Customer Specific Requirements in the coming months.  (GM and Stellantis have indicated an implementation date of September 1, 2024. Ford has set December 31, 2024 as their deadline.)

Understanding the Purpose of APQP and 3 Critical Concepts

Advanced Product Quality Planning provides a structured method of defining and establishing the steps to ensure that a product satisfies the customer and meets all performance and quality requirements. APQP takes a proactive approach to assess and mitigate risk factors that impact a product launch, with a goal of facilitating communication with all involved to ensure all required steps are completed on time.

Below are three critical concepts to consider regarding the APQP process and the impact on the organization’s QMS.

Critical Concept 1:  Benefits of the APQP process

  • Direct resources to satisfy the customer.
  • Promote early identification of required changes.
  • Increase First Time Quality in new parts.
  • Provide a quality product on time at the lowest cost.
  • Reduction in complexity in quality planning (standardized process)
  • Common language for all parties involved.
  • Impact to the automotive QMS:

The APQP process is utilized when preparing to launch new parts or new part numbers.  The APQP reference manual includes the “phases” of product planning from the quoting phase to the product design phase to the process design and implementation phase to the post mass production phase. (See the graphic above.) The APQP process incorporates the PDCA cycle throughout the activity.  Each phase is reviewed and determined if acceptable using a stoplight approach to evaluation (red/yellow/green).  The Appendices of the reference manual includes the many tools that are required to implement the AIAG APQP process. 

Critical Concept 2:  Sourcing – greater emphasis is focused on sourcing in the 3rd edition which includes:

  • Vetting of existing and new suppliers
  • New checklist (A-9) or equivalent to confirm suitability
  • Action items to mitigate identified risks
  • Identification of high-risk supplier
  • Work given to suppliers not considered high risk.

What is a high-risk supplier?

  • New supplier to the organization
  • New location or site (greenfield or brownfield)
  • History of poor quality
  • Past quality spills at the customer
  • Responsibility for one or more incidents of historical field action
  • Supplied components have safety or regulatory requirements.
  • Failure of components with FMEA rated severity of 8 or greater
  • Historical poor launch performance
  • New technology
  • No QMS certification to ISO 9001 or IATF 16949

Impact to the automotive QMS:

The APQP process has included a greater emphasis on supplier selection and control during the APQP process.  Obviously, this indicates that the purchasing department (along with supplier quality) needs to be part of the APQP cross functional team to assist in supplier identification and selection based upon the above descriptions.  As noted, the organization should avoid using high risk suppliers.  Also, the checklist A9 (which is included in Appendix A of the reference manual) needs to be utilized when addressing suppliers during the APQP process. 

Critical Concept 3:  The Quality Planning Summary and Approval Tool (Appendix E in 3rd edition)

Ready to launch with a review/approval of:

  • Process capability
  • Production Control Plan (with safe launch elements)
  • Initial production samples
  • Gage/Test equipment Measurement System Analysis (MSA)
  • Process monitoring
  • Packaging/Shipping
  • Significant production run
  • Tiered supplier readiness
  • PPAP – Production Part Approval
  • Lessons learned implementation
  • Team member approvals

Impact to the automotive QMS:

The APQP process includes a tool that reviews the QMS at a “ready to launch” moment to determine if the required components of the APQP and QMS are in place and effective to launch the product with minimal issues.  Issues that occur during the early mass production phase can result in increased costs, delays to the customer, high warranty occurrences, and overall customer dissatisfaction.  The Quality Planning Summary and Approval tool will help the organization improve the launch activity as well as bring appropriate APQP team members and management into the discussion as a reviewer and approver of the summary.

Where are the APQP requirements aligned with IATF 16949:2016?

In case you were wondering where the APQP requirements are aligned with the IATF 16949:2016 clauses: – Process Effectiveness and Efficiency

6.1 – Actions to Address Risks and Opportunities

7.1.3 – Infrastructure 8.1 – Operational Planning and Control

8.3 – Design and Development of Products and Services

8.4 – Control of Externally Provided Processes, Products and Services

8.5 – Production and Service Provision

8.7 – Control of Nonconforming Outputs

9.1 – Monitoring, Measurement, Analysis and Evaluation

10.1 – Continual Improvement

More details of the release of the APQP manual can be found in our article The New APQP and Control Plan Core Tools are published! We’ve also published an article about the critical concepts to know about the Control Plan manual.

How do you cross the finish line to become IATF® Certified?

If you’re searching for a consultant, our team at simpleQuE is well positioned to support your IATF 16949® certification, maintenance, and internal auditing needs. SimpleQuE also offers a full line-up of IATF 16949® training courses which includes AIAG Core Tools (including the new APQP 3rd Edition and Control Plan 1st Edition), Root Cause Analysis and Problem Solving, Requirements and Implementation.  Contact us to learn more about the customized services offered to match your certification and training needs.

This article is by simpleQuE consultant and auditor, Bob Dornhecker.  With over 35 years of combined experience in auditing, manufacturing and certification, Bob has an extensive quality background.  Additionally, he has taught and facilitated many quality related training classes for clients and has provided support to companies securing their own ISO/Quality Management Systems certifications.  He also conducts ISO 9001 and IATF 16949® 2nd and 3rd party audits.

SimpleQuE is not associated with the IATF®, IAOB, ANAB®, IAQG®, and is not a certification body. SimpleQuE is an independent consulting, training, and second-party auditing service provider that assists a company on a path for the company to obtain and maintain certification through accredited certification bodies.


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