PPAP and PPA – the basics

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PPAP and PPA – please find below all the details summarized in a clear and coherent manner:



The abbreviation PPAP stands for Production Part Approval Process. The Production Part Approval Process is a structured sampling procedure for series production parts which was first defined in the automotive industry. The main purpose of PPAP is to assess the quality of the supplied parts to determine whether they meet the specified requirements, as well as to ascertain the extent to which the production processes ensure that these requirements are reliably met. PPAP is clearly structured and standardized according to the AIAG reference manual (Automotive Industry Action Group) and includes the basic requirements for the sampling of all your production and spare parts according to IATF 16949.


VDA’s Production Part Approval Process (PPA Procedure) is the German equivalent to the PPAP sampling procedure. As the procedures are very similar, we will be describing PPAP and PPA together in the following.



Right from day one in the series production process, the sampling procedures must be complied with throughout the supply chain – and by every single supplier within this supply chain – not only those who supply directly to the (automotive) manufacturers.


Not only should PPAP/PPA be applied to the series parts themselves, but also to all the production parts, service and spare parts, production materials, as well as working materials that are part of the finished product. Sampling in line with the PPAP or PPA requirements is also required in the case of a production site relocation, or where changes to the products and/or the manufacturing processes are introduced and must be carried out accordingly. Apart from transferring the sample products themselves, a range of different documents also have to be submitted to the customer so that these can be double-checked. These are then checked by the customer who decides on whether the series can be approved. Should the series be rejected or only approved subject to certain conditions, the products need to be reworked and the sampling process repeated.

In the sampling procedure, a distinction is made between three approval levels:

Full approval: All parts/components/materials meet customer requirements

This authorizes the manufacturer to produce and deliver all the quantities ordered by the customer.

Conditional approval: This approval level only allows a limited number of products to be supplied, resp. only for a fixed period of time

  • The failure causes must be determined
  • An action plan must be presented to the customer
  • Re-sampling must be carried out according to the PPAP requirements

Rejection: The product does not meet customer requirements, i.e.: no customer deliveries are allowed

  • The product must be improved and failures alleviated
  • Re-sampling must be carried out according to the PPAP requirements


In order to be able to determine whether the individual parts manufactured meet customer specifications, the PPAP procedure requires the supplier to provide various samples and documents. The different stages of the procedure and levels of submission determine which of these are to be provided – and in which order:

  • PPAP Level 1: The Part Submission Warrant (PSW) only is submitted to the customer
  • PPAP Level 2: The Part Submission Warrant (PSW) is submitted to the customer, together with sample parts and limited supporting data
  • PPAP Level 3: The Part Submission Warrant (PSW) is submitted to the customer, together with sample parts and comprehensive supporting data
  • PPAP Level 4: The Part Submission Warrant (PSW) and any other requirements specified by the customer are submitted
  • PPAP Level 5: The Part Submission Warrant (PSW) is available for evaluation at the supplier’s production site, together with sample parts and a full set of supporting data

During the course of the sampling process, various stages are defined which allow statements to be made as to whether the parts meet customer requirements or need to be reworked. It might even prove necessary to request a whole new set. However, these stages are individually determined by the company.

In addition, the following requirements are described in AIAG’s Bulk Material Requirements Checklist:

  1. Design Records: A design record needs to be prepared by the customer and kept available within the scope of the PPAP.
  2. Engineering Change Documents: All changes to the certified part must be documented.
  3. Customer Engineering Approval: Even prior to the actual Production Part Approval Process, sample parts must be made available which can be used by the customer for initial tests.
  4. Design Failure Mode and Effects Analysis D-FMEA: All critical, failure-prone steps in the design must be documented. This information must be communicated between the supplier and the customer.
  5. Process Flow Diagram PFD: The manufacturing sequence, including the influx of all materials used, must be mapped in a process flow diagram.
  6. Process Failure Mode and Effects Analysis P-FMEA: All critical, failure-prone manufacturing steps must be documented and communicated between the suppliers and the customers.
  7. Control Plan: The Control Plan is the result of the P-FMEA process. It specifies how the critical manufacturing steps communicated have to be checked in the Incoming Goods Inspection section or prior to production.
  8. Measure System Analysis Studies: Specification concerning the measuring systems to be used to monitor critical production steps and those with the most impact, and to what extent these are subject to calibration.
  9. Dimensional Results: All product characteristics, specifications, dimensional results and summarized results (“OK” or “not OK”) are included in a list.
  10. Records of material/performance test results: All materials used, including their respective certificates, are bundled and compared to the design requirements. In addition, all tests performed on each part must be summarized for documentation purposes. This includes both the type of testing carried out and the respective results. Apart from this, the results are also confirmed by the supplier’s quality management section, for example, by signing these accordingly.
  11. Initial Sample Inspection Report: The supplier provides proof that the products supplied meet the customer’s quality specifications in the shape of an initial sample inspection report. Before a sample part is manufactured, samples of the raw materials used are also taken.
  12. Initial Process Studies: These are documented by the Statistical Process Control (SPC) process in which the most critical steps are examined from an empirical perspective. The aim is to prove that critical production steps are stable, failure-free and deliver the required result.
  13. Qualified Laboratory Documentation: This lists all the certificates issued by the test laboratory that performed the tests carried out in step 10 above.
  14. Appearance Approval Report/AAR: The AAR applies solely to those parts where appearance is the decisive factor. This report is signed by the supplier.
  15. Sample Production Parts: Sample production parts are produced and photographed. In addition, the PPAP documents who keeps this sample (supplier or customer).
  16. Master Sample: This sample is approved/signed off by both the customer and the supplier. This means that it can also be used for visual comparisons/as a future reference.
  17. Checking Aids: In this step, the measuring machines and gauges required to carry out the comparisons are specified.
  18. Customer Specific Requirements: In this step, individual customer requirements are recorded and saved. The customer can demand that the supplier provides the required tools. If this is not possible, the customer and supplier can verify the specifications using the same measuring machine and the same tools. In this case, it is important to document what was used to carry out this verification.
  19. Part Submission Warrant: This is a written summary of the sampling process. All the important information on the specifications and tests is included in this document. It also specifies when the parts need to be resubmitted. This might be at regular intervals or only required in the event of a change.


To achieve a structured Production Part Approval Process, it is recommended to support this process using a PPAP software solution.

The advantages of PPAP software at a glance:

  • Centrally controlled production process and product approval processes from the perspective of the supplier, the manufacturer and the customer
  • Simplified process to define characteristics and plan detailed reports
  • Readings can be recorded, results communicated, and the documentation managed efficiently online
  • Networked, standardized exchange of information between all those involved in the process
  • Your approval processes are documented in line with IATF 16949, VDA 2, AIAG and DIN EN 9102

A software solution, such as CASQ-it PPAP, offers all the above to support you in implementing a structured, efficient sampling procedure into your quality management processes – including re-sampling and requalification testing.

Do you have any questions on how to introduce a software solution to professionally manage the Production Part Approval Process at your company? Or are you interested in training on CASQ-it PPAP? Then please feel free to contact us.

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