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Conducting a PPAP Audit in an Age of Supply Chain Flexibility

Michael Wilson | Dec 3, 2020

Supply chain flexibility is this year's buzzword in the wake of COVID-19, but supply chain quality remains equally important. If you don't want your efforts at supply chain ...

Supply chain flexibility is this year's buzzword in the wake of COVID-19, but supply chain quality remains equally important. If you don't want your efforts at supply chain flexibility to go awry, you need the ability to perform fast and thorough PPAP audits.

What's a PPAP Audit?

PPAP stands for the "Production Part Approval Process." This audit process was initially used by the automotive industry—although it's often used in broader contexts—to ensure that a supplier can deliver tools, parts, or subassemblies that allow the final product to meet its designed standards while minimizing the risk of failure.

To use a very loose example, let's say that to fabricate your product, you need a cutting torch that can heat a specific grade of steel to a certain temperature in a certain amount of time. You read a brochure and ask a rep a bunch of questions before purchasing your cutter, but you don't perform an audit. Once they arrive, you discover that they don't perform exactly as advertised. This means that your manufacturing process is slower than anticipated, which means that you deliver products more slowly, and you get in trouble with your client.

A PPAP audit is designed to get you out of this bind before it occurs.

How to Perform a PPAP Audit

The purpose of the PPAP audit is to provide a certified process by which your supplier understands the specifications to which their product must perform and can supply that product at the rate you need it under real-world conditions.

The basic unit of a PPAP audit is what's known as a part submission warrant (PSW). This document ensures that both a quality manager and a customer quality manager have looked over your request and attested that the product can meet your needs. Over the process, the vendor will submit their PSW, product samples, and supporting data. Depending on the intensity of the audit, you may even tour the supplier's production facility.

When to Perform a PPAP Audit

The need to perform a PPAP depends upon the sensitivity of your final product. If your end product is essentially inert, with few moving parts, and does not have high tolerances, then you probably don't need to PPAP many (or indeed any) of your parts. However, the more complex your product is, the more thoroughly you should investigate the tools and parts you need to make your products a reality.

We have a variety of critical parts and equipment that you may need to bring your product to life. Contact AFFLINK today and learn how we can add to the quality of your business.

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