FMEA - Reject a PPAP because the RPN number is not shown?


First time posting >> so here it goes.

My company distriburtes fasteners to the automotive industry. I thought I would mention this so you understand that we request PPAP's from our supplier's approx. 120 North American & Japanese), review them for compliance to standards and then forward them to our customer.

I have a NEW customer who insists that a threshold for RPN must be shown on the document indicating when actions MUST be take. (They believe this is the true intent of calculating the RPN). I unfortunatley do not agree and I am reluctant to insist that my suppliers adopt this measure and practice it as such. I do not believe it to be a QS requirement either.

From a Customer Requirement point of view:
Does it make sence to assign a RPN threshold?

From a QS 9000 Requirement pont of view:
Is it fair to reject a PPAP because this RPN # is not shown.
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Dave Johnson


NO and NO!!

I don't know where this idea came from, but I've heard it I don't know how many times. My understanding is that the highest RPN's should have priority for actions, both internally and from a customer's point of view (especially if they had input), no matter if the RPN is 15 or 650.

Assigning a threashold number for RPN's is the best way to ensure the severity, occ, and detection numbers will be cooked, so that no action will have to be taken. I've found this out through bitter experience.

We had a threshold number before. Our Qual Manual said (for our products): "any RPN above 90 must have actions taken to reduce the RPN." When we got together to do FMEA's, guess how many potential failures had RPN's of 91?????????

But, I know fighting with customers can be tough. Not exactly honest, but can you give a threshhold limit to your suppliers for the components that only go to that customer?

Dave Johnson
"Business would be great if it weren't for the customers"


QS and the FMEA manual support your opinion. I believe the 2nd revision of the FMEA manual actually stated that there should be no pre-set level to take action. I can't find this wording the the 3rd revision sitting on my desk, so they may have changed it. I had an auditor "require" your customers opinion a few years ago - I remember being able to point to a page in the FMEA manual that was exactly opposite. I won and saved a nonconformance.

It does state review items with a severity of 9 or 10 and high RPN values first.

There are several problems with having a preset number:

1. Different teams will rank things differently. In some cases an RPN of 500 on one FMEA will be better than an RPN of 300 on another. Each FMEA needs to be evaluated independently. The RPN is a guide, not an absolute trigger point.

2. Teams may be tempted to work backwards to get an RPN under the trigger value.

3. Low RPNs may be easier/cheaper to improve than those slightly higher. If it costs $10 to go from 490 to 40 and $100,000 to reduce a 510, which should you do first?

I do recommend that they always complete the recommended action column - even if it is to say "none". The FMEA manual requires this. I also like to justify why no action is being taken if it is a moderate RPN level - something like "no action at this time - cost does not justify benefit".

Hope this helps,



Thanks for the quick reply.

One more problem I have is:

These are standard OEM Parts (example Suzuki, Mitsubishi, Mazda et.) When I review the PPAP I am very stringent in ensuring it has met all specifications shown in the OEM's Standard. Also that it meets the QS 9000 PPAP requirements.

I am always leary in enforcing the "wants" requests from Tier 1 & 2 suppliers. Because these are standard parts, the PPAP documents may end up sent to 100's of customers world wide.

Should everyone have an "opinion" of how the documents will be done.

Maybe tomorrow someone in Europe will decide he does not believe RPN thresholds should be used. If he requests it to be removed, then what? The mfr. removes it.

I have never trully understood how the QS requirements relates to Standard parts with 100's of customer's

Dave Johnson

cought in the middle!!

Sounds like you are caught in the squisher!!!

We also buy some standard parts for our products. What we would do in this situation would be to put that supplier on "interim" approval, and tell the supplier to take action on the high RPN's, then do increased RI in the meantime.

But as a dustributor, not the manufacturer, is there any way you can work with your customer? (have them work directly with the supplier, etc?) This customer may be using your fasteners in a way that they had never been used before. What kind of technical help can you give them?

Can you assign one supplier to that customer?

Other than this, I don't know what you can do. Sorry and good luck!!


Our customer is not commenting on a RPN that they feel requires action. They are only requesting the mfr. to define (set an RPN threshold) that will require the mfr. to act upon if it reaches this limit. "I think they want to check to see if action were taken on the FMEA when they should have been.".

Also it would be impossible to assign only one mfr. to the customer. In order to meet all thier automotive needs we will have to utilize a rather large supply base. Most of whom already produce the OEM Standard part.

Thanks for everyones help. I think I need to try to persuade my customer to consider that there are good reasons not to set an RPN threshold. I tried once and failed. Perhaps it would be better to try again even if I return with my tail between my legs, rather than insist that my supplier comply with this unfavorable request.

Since the customer and I had completly different view points on this I wanted to see if anyone else out there saw it as I do.

Bill Ryan - 2007


I, too, sympathise with your plight. My experience is that suppliers in the 2nd, 3rd, etc. tiers are submitting PFMEAs because it is a requirement. I also took the hard line with some of our suppliers but have backed off. They give me what they have documented, and that is that. By the way, most of our suppliers have an excellent track record with us.

Regarding your new customer, it sounds like a kid fresh from one of his company's FMEA seminars. An RPN threshold value is ridiculous. Tom's point is very true - a lower value may give greater returns to your company for less cost than a higher one. He is also correct in that all severities of 9 or 10 (maybe even 8) need to be "looked at". That means in conjunction with the Occurrence and Detection. The one point of contention is that, more and more, FMEAs are being presented in court and it is very important that you have some logic or ranking system (as defined by YOUR team) for dealing with RPN values.

I just had a new SQE at one of my customers call me to tell me that I had 79 RPN values over 50 and wondered why I had no entries in the Recommended Actions. I told him I did have entries and each one of them was "NONE". When he said he needed the PFMEA overhauled, I started quoting pricing to him. He went to talk to a superior and fully approved my submission. :bonk: :confused: :bonk:
(I'm sure I made his Christmas List :vfunny: )

I know it gets sticky, but you can't continually cave in to a customer's "brain f*rt of the day" when it adds little to no value.

That's about enough for now.
Good luck!!
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