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Core Quality Tools Enable Control Plans 

Nicole Radziwill

Even if you’re not in the automotive industry, taking a look at quality practices in one of the most quality-driven verticals can be instructive.

By Nicole Radziwill

Since 1982, the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) has been providing a community for manufacturers, service providers, and researchers to share lessons learned and cultivate best practices to support a high-performance supply chain. 

Manufacturing cars and their component parts can require tight coordination between hundreds of suppliers. To design quality in to each part (and ultimately into the end product), it is important to find, raise, and resolve issues as early as possible. Described as essential for doing business in the automotive industry, AIAG promotes the use of the five “Core Tools” to close critical feedback loops. These are:

  • Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA) - Captures a record of each potential issue that might arise in product design, a production process, assembly process, or product use. Each issue is examined in the context of how it could be detected and/or prevented, and this information is used to build the Control Plan. 
  • Statistical Process Control (SPC) - Provides an “early warning” if a process shows signs of inability to consistently meet a requirement. Monitors some of the elements on the Control Plan.  
  • Measurement Systems Analysis (MSA) - Ensures that the values being monitored as part of SPC are accurate and reliable. Type I focuses on the gage itself, while Type II incorporates the interaction between the gage and the person performing the measurement. 
  • Advanced Product Quality Planning (APQP) - This stage-gate project planning framework is used to manage concurrent engineering projects, where multiple organizations are collaborating to design and produce a part or product. It includes five stages: planning, product design and development, process design and development, product and process validation, production, and feedback and corrective action. 
  • Production Part Approval Process (PPAP) - Provides a structure and process for sharing documentation about design elements, production processes, and risks to ensure as much visibility as possible between supply chain partners.

The ultimate goal of using the core tools in concert is to produce a living Control Plan -- a combination of design controls, management review, supplier audit requirements, controls for detection (like SPC), controls for prevention (like mistake-proofing), and inspection plans that will help your organization meet its requirements.  

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Although APQP and PPAP are not routinely used outside of the automotive industry, that doesn’t mean that they can’t be leveraged in other areas. Any organization that is responsible for coordinating product design and development, and for making sure that quality standards are employed across multiple organizations to achieve a shared goal, can benefit from implementing APQP project planning.


Additional Reading 

Belu, N., Al Ali, A. R., & Khassawneh, N. (2013). Application of Control Plan - a PPAP Tool in Automotive Industry Production. Calitatea, 14(136), 68. Available from  

Radziwill, N. M. (2018). SPC & FMEA: Integrating Systems Thinking into Your Quality Architecture to Drive Improvement. Intelex/Quality Digest Webinar. Available from  

About the Author: Nicole Radziwill Quality Practice Lead

Nicole Radziwill is the Quality Practice Lead at Intelex Technologies. Before Intelex, she was an Associate Professor of Data Science and Production Systems, Assistant Director (VP) End-to-End Operations at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO), and manager and consultant for several other organizations since the late 1990's bringing quality management to technologically-oriented operations. She is a Fellow of the American Society for Quality (ASQ) with a Ph.D. in Quality Systems from Indiana State University. Nicole serves as Editor of Software Quality Professional (SQP) journal and is a former Chair of the ASQ Software Division. She is an ASQ Certified Manager of Quality and Organizational Excellence (CMQ/OE) and Certified Six Sigma Black Belt (CSSBB).



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January 10, 2019 @ 02:19 PM EST Quality

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