Proprietary PPAP documents - Customer is also our competitor



Here is our situation...we have FMEAs, Control Plans and PFDs that we consider to be proprietary. We have told our customer that they can come in to view the documents but cannot have a copy of them. We are getting pressure to supply these documents because the PPAP manual does not provide for any exceptions due to proprietary information. Basically our customer is saying that there is nothing in writing that states that you do not have to provide these documents.

Here is the kicker...this customer is also our competitor for some other products.

How has anyone else handled this????
Elsmar Forum Sponsor


First, I wonder what information you are putting into the CP/FMEA. Why would you be so specific about the process as to touch on the propritary aspects of it? Are we talking process parameters (bake time, oven temp etc.) or material formulas?

If the information in the CP/FMEA relates directly to the processing of the part, I don't see how you can withhold it from the customer. If however it details the set-up of equipment, formulation of the materials, or some explanation of technology used, I question why it would be on the CP/FMEA.

In cases where we MUST share information of a propritary nature, we enter into a confidentiality agreement with the other party. It is still based on trust, granted, but at least you have legal recourse.

All requirements, QS, PPAP, etc. can be waived by written agreement with your customer. If your contract states you don't need to supply the documents, so be it.

There is the the possibility of submitting PPAPs on a level 1 or level 5 where documents are retained at your facility and available for review by your customer. This is of course dependant on your customer's agreement.

You also have the option not to do business with your competitor.

Take a close look at what you are putting into the CP/FMEA in the first place. You may find you don't need to go to the propritary stuff.


Korni - 2005

doc´s to customer

Hi Dave,

I have a similar question concerning forwarding of documents to the customer.
Because of technical reasons my supplier changed some material in his product by leaving function and dimensions untouched.
Beyond that, he moved the production line from one shop to another but didn´t change anything in the process.
Of course I did a complete new PPAP etc. but is my customer right, if he wants to have the complete documentation? Or is it enough to assure the customer, that we released these things at our supplier?

Thanks in advance

Ralph :confused:


Ralph - process change is one of the conditions for re-submission of a PPAP. Both the situations look, on the surface, like they would fall under this requirement.

It is up to your customer to determine to what extent the PPAP re-submission should be made. Many times, just the re-sampling and maybe a few of the critical documents are all they require (the rest of the package retained at your facility). The customer can, and often does, request a full PPAP (level 3) submission. It may be the case where he needs to forward the PPAP to his customer and has to have your documentation to prepare his own paperwork.

I think in most cases (except where it involves propritary info like earlier stated) it is best to revert to the old saying "the customer may not always be right but the customer is always the customer". When they make a request (sometimes a real pain), if you can accommodate them, it is best to just go ahead and do it.

Hope this answered your question.


Bill Ryan - 2007


Welcome to the Cove.

My PFMEAs and CPs are very generic and display no "settings". For example the PFMEA will have "Fast shot setting - Set incorrectly" as a Cause of porosity. In the Prevention Control column I show that we monitor the "Fast shot setting". The Control Plan has "Fast shot setting" in the "Characteristic - Process" column and the "Specification" column might say "Refer to setup (or Operator) instructions". We keep the actual settings (proprietary) in a "Level 3" (Work Instruction) level document. We then tell customers that the "Level 3" documents are available for their review anytime they would like to come visit us, but no copies are allowed off the premises.

Works for us!!!


Welcome, also.

We just had an "episode" with a process change that no one saw coming. We changed the die height on our casting machine so it would change the angle of metal being shot into the tool (due to the tool spitting molten metal on the operator). This completely changed how the metal flowed into the cavity. The upside result was a better filled part. The downside was a lot of the dimensionals changed. We are still trying to "sort things out". IMO - the customer should be made aware of, and has every right to be made aware of, a change that could affect their product. I believe both of your examples (change of material and change of shop) fall in the table under 1.3.1 in the PPAP manual. I think both are "major" changes and you customer is "in the right" by asking for all documentation. Sorry, I try to fight unreasonable demands from customers also, but I side with them on this one.

Hope it helps some.

Howard Atkins

Forum Administrator
Staff member
The demands for the documents relate to the level of the submission. You could try to change the level and thus not have to supply the documents.
Another alternative is to make a more generic version for external use.
This of course makes work but protects your knowledge.
The Europeans are more enlightened in this field and do not expect to see all the documents as they accept the confidentiality issue.
This does not really help but gives some pointers.
All the best
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