Lean Manufacturing Principles Applied to PPAP Approval Process.

In today’s manufacturing environment, the lack of resources and the high turnover rate in engineering and quality personnel causes tension in the Quality Departments. This is true specially when putting together the PPAPs that will be submitted to the clients but also to review and approve the PPAPs required by the suppliers.

This the reason why in this article, we wanted to identify the 7 Wastes of Lean Manufacturing in the PPAP Approval Process so you can avoid them or at least reduce them. We hope you find these reflections useful:

1.-Defects: The rejection of a PPAP because it does not meet the customer expectations is not only extremely costly but it usually attracts unwanted attention from your customers quality department. A good way to reduce these defects is to agree with your customer in the PPAPs’  acceptance/reject criteria in the shape of a PPAP Checklist. In this way, you can make sure that the documents meet your customer expectations before you submit them saving you time money and, let’s say it: embarrassment.

2.-Over Production: Over production is to produce items before they are needed. Translating this concept to a PPAP, you may be working in a PPAP that is not needed anymore or in a PPAP that will be needed 3 months later when you should be working in another urgent PPAP needed this week. If you lack a PPAP Management system, you can easily fall into this case. Try to get a simple, affordable PPAP Management System.

3.- Transportation: In a manufacturing environment, transportation means moving the product around. For the purpose of this discussion, we can correlate transportation to the effort of gathering the different documents that form the PPAP. Again, if you use Excel spreadsheets and email to manage your PPAPs, it is likely that you will spend more time than necessary gathering the PPAP documents.

4.- Wait:  In many cases, we have seen the typical example of a customer using an excel spreadsheet with 19 different tabs one for each document. This means that the first PPAP Element to be completed cannot be submitted (must wait) until the last document is completed and entered into the spreadsheet so the whole PPAP can be submitted. If you can start sending the elements as they are completed, then you have more time to have them properly submitted and not just wait until everything is dropped on your lap the day before PPAP. Of course, you have to be careful that so many documents flowing independently do not create a mess as we explained in case 3 (Transportation).

5.- Inventory.-   We relate the excess of inventory to the excess of work needed to complete unnecessary PPAPs. We have seen cases when a PPAP due to an Eng. Change is very close to the date of annual revalidation. In this case, you can use the Eng. Change PPAP to cover the annual revalidation so you don’t have 2 PPAPs. Another example is when you have numerous revision changes during launch and you must have an approved PPAP for every revision. In this case, take one version, make a full PPAP for it and for the following versions you can use PPAPs with fewer elements validating only what changed from one revision to another.

6.- Motion: The ideal scenario is when you sit in front of your supplier or customer so you can clarify any question or doubt promptly. However, this usually high traveling costs for both parties as well as time spent taking planes, trains or driving. This fact has a high impact in productivity and in many cases is simply not feasible. To improve the communication between customer and suppliers, establish periodic meetings and try to use video conferences instead of relying in email only. Look for a platform that facilitates the communication using real time notifications.

7.- Process: We can associate the Over Processing waste to the excess of work needed to complete a PAPP or elements inside a PPAP. Working in a PPAP that is no longer needed is a good example of this. Another good example is the effort of putting together a GR&R in the MSA. If you already have a GR&R study performed for the same instrument with acceptable results, you can surrogate this GR&R (assuming it is not older than one year) and use it in your PPAP. We recommend that you check with your customer representative first. You can also make generic PFMEAs or generic Control Plans to save you time and effort but you should be extremely careful to make them really meaningful.



You can observe how all these 7 wastes are closely related, for example, Over Process and Excess of Inventory.

We can think that the way we are approving PPAPs as of today is OK, however, we should always remain vigilant of having the habits of excellence present to make our job easier and above all, meaningful.

We sincerely hope that these recommendations are useful for you and your team.