In manufacturing, PPAP (Production Part Approval Process) is a standardized process used by suppliers to secure that the parts and components they manufacture meet customer requirements. In this article we elaborate on the key purposes with PPAP, and what it means to digitalize your part approval management.

PPAP is a standardized process to ensure that a supplier's manufacturing process is capable of producing parts that meet the customer's requirements consistently. It is an essential step in securing that the final product meets the necessary quality standards and performs as intended.

PPAP originated in the automotive industry, but its principles have been adopted and adapted by other industries seeking to ensure the quality and consistency of supplied parts.

Key purposes with PPAP

Quality Assurance – PPAP helps to demonstrate that the supplier's manufacturing process is capable of consistently producing parts within the specified tolerances and quality standards. It involves conducting studies to assess the capability of the production process. Part approval is an essential part of the product quality assurance and validation processes, involving thorough inspections and verification of the manufactured parts and components to ensure they fulfil the approved design specifications.

Ensure Consistency - The process involves documenting and validating every step of the production process, from design and material selection to manufacturing and testing. This documentation ensures that the production process remains consistent over time. After the first article has been approved, you expect subsequent parts to have similar quality.

Compliance with Industry Standards - In many industries, compliance with PPAP requirements is a contractual obligation. It ensures that suppliers adhere to industry standards and customer-specific requirements for quality assurance.

Risk Management - PPAP allows for the identification and mitigation of risks associated with the production process and helps preventing potential issues before they impact the entire production run.

Supplier Relationships - often, part approval demands collaboration between manufacturers and suppliers. Manufacturers may require their suppliers to submit samples and studies for approval before mass production begins. This helps in establishing and maintaining a reliable supply chain.

Facilitate Communication PPAP - involves clear communication between the supplier and the customer. It establishes a common understanding of the product and its specifications, ensuring that both parties are aligned on quality expectations.

Change Management - If there are any changes to the design, materials, or manufacturing processes, a new part approval may be required, to ensure that the changes don´t have any negative impact on quality or performance.

Continuous Improvement -Through the use of statistical process control (SPC) and other quality tools, PPAP encourages continuous improvement in the manufacturing process. Suppliers are required to monitor and control their processes to maintain high levels of quality.

5 submission levels of PPAP

PPAP consists of several submission levels, each indicating a different stage in the approval process:

Level 1 - Part Submission Warrant (PSW) Only – involves submitting the Part Submission Warrant (PSW) only, without any supporting documentation. The PSW is a document that summarizes the entire submission package.

Level 2 - PSW with Product Samples – in addition to the PSW, Level 2 includes submission of actual product samples. Typically, you pick these samples from the initial production run.

Level 3 - PSW with Product Samples and Limited Supporting Data – includes the PSW, product samples, and limited supporting documentation. The documentation may include material certifications and other basic information.

Level 4 - PSW with Full Supporting Data – the supplier provides the PSW along with complete supporting documentation. This documentation may include process flow diagrams, control plans, and other quality-related information.

Level 5 - PSW with Full Supporting Data and Customer Warrant – includes the PSW, complete supporting documentation, and a customer warrant. The customer warrant is a supplier statement that confirms that product meet all customer engineering, design, and specification requirements.

The different submission levels help you to define the depth of information and documentation required for the approval process, with higher levels indicating more comprehensive data and evidence of compliance. The specific requirements for each level may vary based on customer and industry standards.  

The Part Approval challenges – and how you can take control

Due to its complexity, the level of details, and the variety of parts and component in the manufacturing it is often difficult to standardize procedures across the global supply chain. Other typical challenges are insufficient document control, as there are quite a few documents in the process, inefficient supplier collaboration or communication, time consuming and manually burdensome administration. This may lead to incorrect Part Approval document submissions, or the risk of not meeting industry requirements.

However, by streamlining and verifying the management of part approval documents, you can address these challenges by standardizing the administration, validation, and submission of your PPAP.  

A more digital Part Approval Process can increase traceability, mitigate risks, and empower you to better align with customer requirements. To collect, validate, and distribute conformed product documentation, will also improve your supplier collaboration, and enable you to scale and develop your overall Quality Document Management.

Are you curious to know more about digital Part Approval Management? At ChainTraced we help companies along the metallic value chain globally, to improve their Quality Management processes by transforming to more efficient, secure, and scalable ways of working. Learn more about “PPAP by ChainTraced” here.

Read more about ChainTraced for Part Approval

Thomas Persson

CCO and Co-founder
Thomas has held several senior positions as quality and sustainability director in the international manufacturing and trade industry. He has extensive experience in quality assurance, manufacturing engineering and sustainability management as well as supply chain management.