PPAP samples – what you need to know before shipment planning for customer approval

Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) is one of the key activities in the pre-launch stage.

It’s also culmination activity for Advanced Quality Planning (APQP). In order to properly prepare for it, we should remember a few basic rules regarding proper management of PPAP samples.

PPAP samples – why it’s worth obtaining it as soon as possible?

There are two main arguments. The first one is related to the payment from the customer for the constructed equipment. Why? In the vast majority of cases, the customer is the owner of the tooling. It authorizes the construction of the supplier’s tooling after approval by DFMEA. It is also equivalent to “freezing” the CDA data model (or component geometry). The process of releasing tooling for construction is often named in customer terminology as Tooling Kick-off (TKO).

Okay, but let’s get back to the payment. During the TKO, the supplier receives about 20% -30% of the funds for the equipment construction. He has to cover the rest from his “own pocket”. And when does he get the rest? Just when the PPAP samples receive a positive evaluation by the client.

We must be aware that the tooling owned by the customer very often costs several dozen or several dozen million Euro. For this reason, and sometimes for cash flow purposes, organizations should be concerned that it should be granted as soon as possible. Customer tooling example: injection mold. The injection molding machine, on the other hand, belongs to the organization.

The second argument is deviation management. It is used, among others. when we are unable to obtain positive approval for the submitted components. Of course, each time the customer approves the deviation, together with an action plan.

What if the problem is not related to the supplier with a negative PPAP assessment?

I haven’t mentioned yet what the part approval steps are. We will need this to understand this scenario thoroughly. The customer first performs a component measurement and / or a measurement on the model master. It is the car body milled in the nominal value and placed in the customer’s measuring laboratory.

The second step is measurement performed directly on the production car body. And now we come to the best. It may happen that the “measurement” (ie the measurement results) or the results on the master model are positive. On the other hand, the evaluation on the manufactured car body will be negative.

In such a situation, the final assessment according to the customer will be a negative. This proves that the production car body in the pre-launch phase still doesn’t have a refined (so in line with the design) geometry. This of course, affects the improper fit or difficult assembly of parts in the car.

In the above scenario, in order to release the remaining (larger) payment, the engineering of the organization should be engaged with the support of the sales department.

PPAP samples and equipment status

We discussed the issue of TKO and payments. Now we will go into this area in more detail.

In the production of many components, they are first produced using prototype tooling. This is the case in particular for DFMEA validation and mathematical calculations and simulations. When a TKO is awarded, two tooling statuses are considered.

The first is OT – Off Tool. It’s defined as final tooling in final location. This scenario occurs when the tooling is first developed at the manufacturer or elsewhere in the organization. In the automotive industry of course, there are scenarios where the customer first receives parts in pre-launch phase with this status.

We must of course, agree it with him in advance and include it in the development schedule. Here we have to agree it with Project / Program Manager.

Of course, when sending parts for customer approval, the OT status is unacceptable. In such a situation, the customer will require us to make the final tooling in the final location. It is referred to  OTOP -Off Tool Off Process.


– automatic welding (OTOP), instead of manual welding (OT)

– automatic assembly (OTOP), instead of manual assembly (OT)

– tooling at the final production location (OTOP) instead of the tool maker manufacturer (OT).

Apply what the customer requires from you in the supply chain

The status of the tooling is one thing, while the status of the sub-components used in the production of the final product is a completely different topic. Remember that all sub-components are also approved by the appropriate department before sending the final product. Most often it is the supplier quality department (SQE, SQA).

IMDS – chemical composition of the final product

The final obligation to bear in mind before submitting parts for customer approval is IMDS. It is a term used to introduce a specific chemical composition of our final product. If we don’t do this, we may of course receive a complaint – Non Conformity Ticket. Of course, the customer will not include the returned parts here. It’s important if one of Your KPI is related to PPM’s.

Very often, the final producers on their portals give the opportunity to see whether the IMDS introduced by production plant has been accepted by the client. Thanks to this, we can define and implement actions in advance, before the client’s representative visit.

Armed with the above knowledge, you can confidently prepare to send PPAP samples for client approval.

Dariusz Kowalczyk

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