Aerospace & defenseMay 7, 2024

Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) Governance

The Advanced Product Quality Planning methodology focuses on compliance with the phases and deliverables defined in the quality standard.
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APQP: Understanding the Acronym

In today’s business environment, quality is crucial, and introducing new products or making significant changes to existing ones carries high risks. The aerospace and defense industry needs to answer the complex question of how to accelerate production ramp up without compromising quality through the entire ecosystem, necessitating a strategic reassessment.

Collaboratively managing quality project planning, such as advanced product quality planning (APQP) with ENOVIA solutions, is key for introducing APQP protocols as an integral part of the design and manufacturing processes. In doing so, companies can improve operations while reducing rework and recall costs.

Rather than a constraint, APQP should be seen as a means to achieve operational efficiency, innovation, and customer satisfaction. It is not just a commitment to compliance, but a forward-thinking approach to quality management that promotes a culture of continuous improvement. APQP changes the focus from reactive quality and firefighting to preventive quality from the early stages of the product lifecycle. By implementing APQP, not only will companies drastically reduce the risk of non-conformance and the associated costs, but they will also optimize their operations and avoid potential adverse impact on the brand image.

APQP’s Role in Aerospace and Defense

The aerospace and defense industry is in a different league when it comes to complex systems and stringent regulatory requirements. That’s why APQP is essential for quality assurance throughout the product lifecycle including the supply chain. The Dassault Systèmes methodology, based on a holistic collaborative work environment, harmonizes design, production and quality assurance practices from the outset to reduce the risk of defects, delays and non-compliance.

The 3DEXPERIENCE® platform provides an extensive APQP process with quality plans and supporting processes to collaboratively work with suppliers to reduce risks, prevent foreseeable errors, avoid failed occurrences, and ultimately reduce costs related to poor quality.

Its automated collaborative features ensure updates are seamlessly propagated across all relevant documents and disciplines, from design changes to downstream departments, minimizing manual errors and manipulation.

The 3DEXPERIENCE APQP Governance: A Five-Step Program

The platform’s proposal and project management solutions are tailored to APQP, covering all five phases from concept to delivery: planning, product design, process design, validation, assessment and correction.

1. Plan and define the program:

The 3DEXPERIENCE platform empowers teams to create a comprehensive quality plan, establish goals, and define project scope and schedule. The platform’s dedicated ENOVIA Portfolio leverages strong collaborative functions and ensures that all program activities are aligned, transparent and communicated to all stakeholders inside and outside the organization. The high level of collaboration between original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and suppliers, powered by the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, reduces time-to-market and the total cost of quality.

2. Product design and development:

Dassault Systèmes’ CATIA software, integrated with the 3DEXPERIENCE platform, provides the capabilities to capture the key design characteristics and perform the D-FMEA (design failure mode and effect analysis). Its goal is detecting potential issues, measure and minimize risk in the earliest stages of the product lifecycle. It provides advanced modeling, simulation and analysis capabilities. Engineers can design high-quality, reliable and manufacturable products, incorporating feedback and validation at every step. Manufacturers can ensure that their products meet market requirements without requiring rework during manufacturing.

3. Process design and development:

The DELMIA portfolio, an integral part of the 3DEXPERIENCE ecosystem, supports process planning, factory layout design and simulation. The P-FMEA (process failure mode and effect analysis) focuses on detecting potential issues during the manufacturing stage to, again, measure and reduce risk during the process design. The Control Plan highlights the critical process and product characteristics that need to be monitored in the shop floor for product quality. This ensures that manufacturing processes are optimized before production even begins. Tools such as statistical process control (SPC) and analysis of variance (ANOVA) conduct thorough quality measurements and process monitoring.

4. Product and process validation:

D-FMEA, P-FMEA, and Control Plan closely tie into the verification and validation requirements to create plans to be executed for physical testing as well. The platform allows for thorough validation of both product design and the manufacturing process using simulation and virtual testing tools to identify and resolve potential issues before moving onto the real world. OEMs and suppliers follow the PPAP (production part approval process) standard to communicate quality and delivery requirements; suppliers submit evidence to validate their capability to deliver components at expected quality levels. This guarantees that the final product will meet quality standards from day one.

5. Feedback, assessment and corrective action:

The end of the process is only the beginning. Once the product is ready to launch, the 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides tools to monitor performance, collect feedback and implement continuous improvement measures. This feature enables companies to share feedback with the origin of quality problems and apply lessons learned to future projects.

This structured program and project management solution offers cross-functional team members unprecedented visibility and traceability of the entire APQP process, including status updates, resource utilization and project management insights. It operates on a learning curve, with each process serving as a building block for future developments.

Techniques to Enhance Product Quality

To enhance product quality, it is recommended to implement six critical techniques: Root cause analysis (RCA), automated SPC, APQP, Non Conformance Report (NCR), automated corrective/preventive action (CAPA), and repeatability and reproducibility (R&R) and gauge calibration. These techniques help manufacturers identify and correct quality defects in product and process designs, streamlining the validation and launch phases. Integrating quality management with enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing execution systems (MES) provides broader business insights by directly linking operational strategies to quality outcomes.

Data-Driven APQP: The Gravitational Center of Governance

Dassault Systèmes’ approach to APQP governance prioritizes collaboration and data management, making quality planning a shared responsibility rather than an isolated task. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform provides a unified digital environment where all stakeholders, including design and development teams, suppliers and customers, can access up-to-date information and communicate effectively. This approach not only reduces the risk associated with product launches or changes, but also improves product quality, customer satisfaction and knowledge reuse by reviewing previous results such as FMEAs, design verification plan (DVP), process quality controls (PQCs), and control plans. Focusing on preventive quality not only increases our chances of success, but also reduces the Total Cost of Quality by addressing potential issues in earlier stages, where it is less costly to correct.

The platform’s strong data management capabilities guarantee that all decisions are made based on precise, up-to-date data, ensuring reliability and predictability, and enabling faster and more flexible responses to unforeseen changes and challenges throughout the product development and manufacturing process.

Committing to Quality as a Core Corporate Ethos

Embedding quality into the corporate culture is of paramount importance, beyond technical solutions. The 3DEXPERIENCE platform supports this cultural change by enabling routines and metrics that integrate quality into daily operations. Regular audits and tracking customer-related data are conducted for continuous improvement. Quality thus becomes an organizational habit resulting in product delivery that not only meets but exceeds customer expectations.

APQP Governance: Gaining a Competitive Edge

In the highly controlled and competitive aerospace and defense industry, quality is not only an obligation but also a critical cultural cornerstone and strategic component of business success. Advanced product quality planning provides a framework for integrating quality into every aspect of product development and manufacturing. Dassault Systèmes’ unique 3DEXPERIENCE platform offers a robust set of tools to support the APQP process, helping organizations achieve their quality goals and gain a competitive advantage. Through collaboration, innovation and continuous improvement, Dassault Systèmes is shaping the future of quality management in the aerospace and defense industry.

Download the eBook to discover more A&D total quality management solutions in action!

And to deep dive into the related Industry Solution Experiences: Ready for Rate, Cleared To Operate, Program Excellence

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