You will agree with me that memory is fragile and selective. I can remember the pizza I had on that trip to Italy a few years ago, but I can’t remember what I had for dinner on Monday. If we are this forgetful in our personal life, what are we forgetting in our industrial life? Definitely, the loss of experience in organizations is a problem of our time.
Many of the young engineers enter companies to spend the minimum necessary time in the workshop, to be able to jump to managerial positions, without having enough knowledge of technical work. Then, organizations are continuously losing the technical “know-how”.
APQP: Registering the agreements with the supplier is key
A few years ago, it became a trend to integrate all kinds of airbags inside a car: for the driver, for the passengers, seats, roof, etc. The critical operation was to ensure the continuity of all electrical connections, so I had to audit the processes of the seat supplier to ensure electrical continuity in a 100% of the seats. I reviewed the process and validated the control plan proposed by the supplier.
After a couple of years, I went back to visit the supplier to confirm that they were still carrying out the electrical controls. However, the supplier told me that the control in 100% of the seats had been eliminated. How is it possible that the supplier eliminated the control without being authorized, without informing me, and against the APQP (Advanced Product Quality Planning) rules? The supplier looked up the authorization paper and it turned out that I had signed the change over a year ago. The truth is that I had completely forgotten.
This problem is very important at the Start of Production (SOP), at the end of the APQP process. We spend several months developing and modifying apart, making it meet the design requirements, as well as the appearance and functionality criteria such as wrinkles or noise. The agreement with our client is that at the start of the manufacturing process we will take a “picture” of the part, and we will commit that the thousands of pieces that we will manufacture will be the same as this First Sample.
The agreement with our client is that at the beginning of the series we take a “picture” of the piece, and commit that the thousands of pieces that will be manufactured will be a perfect match to this First Sample.
In this process, which is called PPAP or Part Submission Warrant, it is critical to know which is the “model” part that the client and provider have agreed on, to the point that it is common practice in many OEMs to request the shipment of several sample parts which are stored and locked in some forgotten warehouse.
The problem is that keeping samples for years is not efficient, because they end up full of rust and dust, it is difficult to access the information and trace the part’s homologation conditions. This provided that we have a part according to the Design, within tolerances and which meets the customer appearance criteria.
This process becomes even more troublesome when the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) asks for “special adjustments.” That is when the client requests to take the process towards a trend, which ultimately favors the quality of the final set. Consequently, it is critical to keep records of actions, agreements, repeal, etc. Because it is always possible for the trend to change and where the OEM wanted “small” parts, now is asking for “normal” parts.
PPAP digital transformation. Execution and Validation
KAPTURE.IO is a Quality Management System (QMS) that empowers the digitalization of the APQP approval process. This ensures that the information on the approval of the parts is accessible and reliable.
What is the fundamental PPAP information that must be digitalized?
- Dimensional studies of critical dimensions (from 5 to 10 pieces)
- Studies of the capacity of the process in the initial stages (minimum 30 pieces)
- Measurement/scanning of all part surfaces (1 or 2 parts per cavity)
- Evidence of the quality of the appearance and qualitative functionalities, through photos or videos (OK sample, Limit sample, NoGo sample)
- Derogations or special agreements that require a change or trend compared to the official values of the design
It is crucial that the information is available, but also that it is REALLY of good quality. Often, when we come across a problem or a customer claim and review the documentation on the quality of the part in the APQP, we discover that relevant information about that specific problem is missing. For instance, in a plastic part, we may have the Gap and Flush measurements, but we are missing the height of a clip turret or the thickness of the rib walls.
KAPTURE.IO is an excellent tool to manage the First Samples or PPAP. It is a fundamental support to be able to commit to maintaining quality with your client. Or to use as a backup if a client claims things that were never agreed. In other words, it is a key tool to avoid the loss of industrial memory and the know-how of our company.
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