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The Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) is a critical element in the automotive and manufacturing industries, ensuring suppliers consistently deliver products that meet stringent quality standards. This structured process involves several submission levels, each with specific requirements that must be fulfilled before production parts gain approval. Understanding these PPAP submission levels is essential for suppliers and manufacturers aiming to uphold product quality and reliability. 

An Overview of PPAP 

PPAP is a systematic approach providing evidence that all customer engineering design records and specification requirements are properly understood and met by the supplier. As part of the Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) process, PPAP encompasses various documentation, testing, and validation procedures. 

The Five Submission Levels of PPAP 

The PPAP process is segmented into five distinct submission levels, each with varying requirements for documentation and evidence. These levels offer flexibility based on the part's complexity and the specific needs of the customer. 

Level 1: Part Submission Warrant (PSW) Only 

Level 1, suppliers need only submit the Part Submission Warrant (PSW). This level is typically used for standard, non-critical parts where minimal documentation suffices. The PSW is a form summarising the PPAP process and confirming that all required processes and documentation have been completed and meet the specified requirements. 

Level 2: PSW with Product Samples and Limited Supporting Data 

Level 2 requires the PSW along with a sample of the product and limited supporting documentation. This level is suited for parts with some critical features but are not highly complex. The supporting data usually includes key dimensions and material test results, providing basic assurance of the part's compliance with specifications. 

Level 3: PSW with Product Samples and Complete Supporting Data 

Level 3 is the most commonly utilised submission level. It necessitates the PSW, product samples, and comprehensive supporting data, including: 
 
Design Records 
Engineering Change Documents 
Customer Engineering Approval 
Design FMEA 
Process Flow Diagram 
Process FMEA 
Control Plan 
Measurement System Analysis (MSA) Studies 
Dimensional Results 
Records of Material / Performance Tests 
Initial Process Studies 
Qualified Laboratory Documentation 
Appearance Approval Report (AAR) 
Sample Production Parts 
Master Sample 
Checking Aids 
Records of Compliance with Customer-Specific Requirements 
 
Level 3 provides a thorough overview of the part and its manufacturing process, ensuring all aspects meet the necessary quality standards. 

Level 4: PSW and Other Requirements as Defined by the Customer 

Level 4 is utilised when the customer specifies additional requirements beyond those listed in Level 3. This submission level is often customised to the specific needs of the customer and the complexity of the part, potentially including more detailed testing, extra documentation, or specific compliance checks. 

Level 5: PSW with Product Samples and Complete Supporting Data Reviewed at the Supplier’s Manufacturing Location 

Level 5 is the most stringent submission level, incorporating all Level 3 requirements with an on-site review at the supplier’s manufacturing location. This level is typically reserved for highly complex or critical parts where on-site verification is necessary to ensure the production process and controls are adequate. During the on-site review, the customer may verify the production process, inspect the manufacturing facility, and audit the supporting documentation. 

Choosing the Appropriate PPAP Submission Level 

The choice of PPAP submission level is generally determined by the customer based on the part's complexity, criticality, and associated risk. Suppliers must work closely with their customers to understand the specific requirements and ensure they provide the necessary documentation and evidence. 

Conculsion 

PPAP submission levels are designed to ensure suppliers consistently deliver high-quality products that meet customer specifications. By understanding and adhering to the requirements of each submission level, suppliers can enhance their processes, reduce the risk of defects, and build stronger relationships with their customers. Whether dealing with a simple part requiring minimal documentation or a complex component necessitating detailed verification, the PPAP process helps maintain the highest standards of quality and reliability in manufacturing. 
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