In an historic merger, Fiat Chrysler and Peugeot gave rise to Stellantis, an automotive giant. Since the merger, organizations and processes are converging towards an efficient harmony, and the use of APQP. This change is not exclusive to the companies, it also impacts suppliers.

Announcements issued in January of 2021 revealed that quality policies for suppliers now follow the requirements of IATF16949. Both FCA and PSA required their partners to obtain this standard certification and satisfy its requirements.

However, the different companies in the group had specific customer requirements and used different computer systems. To address this, the group began a rationalization process to standardize procedures related to supplier requirements and IT systems. As a result, in November of 2022, STLA issued a statement formalizing the new APQP PPAP version for 2022, which brings new definitions to the application of product and process development, replacing the previous versions.Process

For new projects, compliance with the new methodology became mandatory, requiring the certification of project and quality managers by an accredited entity. In December of 2022, an additional communication was issued to suppliers introducing the Quality Requirement for Supplier (QRS), a new document that details requirements applicable to both the development and serial production phases of new Stellantis projects. This document replaces PSA’s SQM (Supplier Quality Manual) and FCA’s Quality Requirements.

The QRS manual has four chapters, addressing the selection of suppliers and the preparation of contracts, product and process development, serial production after product launch and, finally, the applicable computerized systems.

Structuring the phases of the new version of APQP

Exploring the APQP phases in this new version, we can see details from product planning to serial production in the figure below.

APQP phases

Each phase, highlighted in the middle of the figure, aims to ensure quality, efficiency and compliance with customer requirements. Below is a summary of the activities in each phase:

  1. The planning phase begins with receiving quotes from suppliers and continues until contracting, involving an associated gate that addresses the meetings to start this process.
  2. In the product and process development phase, after approving the supplier, the supplier receives authorization to start developing the tooling for the process, culminating in the freezing of the design and its authorization.
  3. In the third phase, tool manufacturing, the main objective is to deliver the first parts produced to the final tooling, although they are not yet incorporated into any process.
  4. In this phase, product and process checks are carried out, the pilot run and assembly on the line takes place, according to the established milestones, through the use of the tooling and definitive processes. For the gates, PPAP approval is crucial for the supplier’s activities.
  5. In the final phase of stepping up production, the SOP (Start of Production) of serial product begins, following the established milestones. At the same time, the end of product development for the supply chain occurs.

APQP milestones and gates

Emphasizing milestones or significant events in the course of vehicle development, the automaker expects there to be constant monitoring and ongoing validation of progress during the project. Each milestone is linked to specific activities that need to be completed within established deadlines, ensuring compliance with the completion dates for each project phase. This event is directly linked to the launch of the vehicle.

For suppliers who play a crucial role in the launch of these vehicles, during the project there are milestones that indicate the start of specific processes, known as gates, as illustrated in the figure above.

In short, milestones are events carried out by the customer itself, and gates are the milestones of the suppliers.

More details on these milestones:

  1. The first step involves contracting suppliers, which are selected based on the type of part to be produced. Supplier participation is categorized according to the type of part.
  2. In the second stage, the focus is on the readiness of the software and hardware parts, with detailed planning for the delivery of each component. This process aims to ensure that all elements are synchronized in terms of product production time.
  3. In the third stage, the final tooling produced by the supplier is validated, with validation events related to the product structuring process.
  4. In the fourth stage, examples of assembly carried out on the process line are presented, where all products and controls are checked, ensuring compliance with the process and the definitive tooling in relation to its functions.
  5. In the fifth stage, called launch readiness, the first delivery of final products takes place, known as tryout. In this phase, the product and process validation and PPAP steps are carried out.
  6. Finally, in the SOP (Start of Production) stage, there is the closure of development and the beginning of the serial production phase of the product.

Evolution of activities

Addressing the evolution of the structure of activities, PSA’s prior APQP consisted of five phases, five milestones and the management of 63 deliverables during these specific milestones. The process included uploading deliveries to the PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) platform. At each milestone, it was essential to upload documentation according to the predefined structure.

APQP activities

The former FCA, in turn, was organized in three phases, five milestones and it managed 231 issues during project review meetings. The process also included piloting questions in Maps 2.0 for PPQP approval events.

In the most recent version of APQP (2022), some improvements were introduced. It now has five phases, five gates and progressively manages 27 activities during the gates, with comprehensive monitoring. 76 process requirements are also associated with the activities, with the upload being carried out at each gate on the PLM platform used by Stellantis.

 What has changed?

Regarding the main changes in this update, which played a challenging role in the implementation by the former PSA and FCA, the following changes stand out:

  • The standardization of some document models for STLA.
  • Replacement of the requirements manual with the Supplier Quality Requirement (SQR).
  • The reformulation of vehicle development milestones.
  • Standardization of change management, encompassing process data.
  • The introduction of different specific activity and document management applications used in each phase of the APQP project.
  • The redefinition of responsibilities for starting and managing activities.
  • The inclusion of additional requirements for safety electronic components, in response to component updates and compliance with specific regulations.
  • The early execution of some activities, such as the inclusion of traceability requirements in phase 2.
  • The change in the progressive audit carried out during PCPA development, now called PPQ (Process Performance Qualification).

SoftExpert tool for the automotive sector

SoftExpert has created an automated APQP-PPAP process to simplify your company’s methods for managing product development and changes. It’s ready for you to use! Here are some of the benefits you’ll get from this process:

  • Registration of parts, revisions and characteristics, with automatic updating for those involved in the process.
  • Identification and control of special product and process characteristics, with attachment and printing of differentiated symbology for customers and suppliers.
  • Analysing the measurement system with studies of linearity, amplitude, trend, R&R (mean and amplitude/ANOVA and attribute).
  • Study of process capability by variable (value measurement) and attribute (defect count), generating control charts and histograms.
  • Automatic calculation of process indices – Cp, Cpk, Pp, Ppk, z inf./sup., etc.
  • Failure mode and effect analysis for the project and process.
  • Automatic sending of PPAP documents to the client via e-mail, with electronic signature of the certificate and submission and opinion of the PPAP.
  • Issue of all the reports contained in the IATF 16949 standard in standard format.
  • Summary of quality planning approval.

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Alex Sandro Barbosa


Alex Sandro Barbosa

Alex Sandro Barbosa is a Product and Market Analyst at SoftExpert. Degree in Mechanical Engineering from UNIVILLE University of the Joinville Region. Certified lead auditor in process audits under the IATF16949 standard. He has experience in process and quality systems in the automotive industry with knowledge in process planning and auditing, continuous improvement, problem solving, core quality tools, customer-facing complaint management, project management and change management.

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