Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs)
Written by Andrew Goldman for Gaebler Ventures
Good manufacturing practices are a great way to improve your company. By imploring GMPs you can have access to a greater customer base while increasing your quality.
Good Manufacturing Practices (GMPs) are necessary for any business that manufactures a product or service.
Good manufacturing practices include the management, control and documentation of a company's manufacturing and quality control practices. It helps to ensure a quality product and it protects the consumers. In addition, it is becoming a requirement for many big customers. If you want to grow and increase your businesses, embracing GMPS and seeking certification should be on the docket.
In the United States, GMPS are enforced by the FDA. Even if you do not get a "GMP Certification" you should still start implementing GMPS to help your company and its customers.
There are GMP consultants available or literature on the process. You or your production manager should be familiar with these materials and understand what GMPs mean for manufacturing and quality control.
Quality control is of the utmost importance when we are producing a product. Defective products lead to exorbitant costs and unhappy customers. By offering a consistent product that meets specifications, our costs will be lower and our customers happier. I often get questioned how the costs will be lower if it costs more to implement high quality. The answer is simple.
The costs of scrapping a defective product or dealing with unhappy customers will quickly outweigh the initial cost of building quality into the product. Rather than catch a defect after a product has been produced, you should aim to catch a defect before it happens by preventing defects from occurring in your operation.
Documentation is one of the key components of GMPs. If you do not document your processes currently, you should begin doing so. Many small businesses I visit claim they don't document because they are not big enough to warrant the procedure. Remember, quality control is important for businesses of all sizes, and if you wish to grow you'll need to start documenting.
Where the documentation occurs depends on the nature of your operation. Typical areas that get documented include lot tracking. Lot tracking means that every batch that is produced has a record and is signed off by various parties. In the event of a recall or a customer complaint, the exact batch should be easily tracked.
If you do not have lot-coding on your products, you should start doing so immediately. The cost can be incredibly low as a stamp and some ink is a good way to start.
Anywhere that is a critical control point (usually areas that involved measurement or temperature) should be documented as well. Lists of temperatures on the hour or by batch are typical documented processes. In addition, the weight or other scientific measurements may be taken to help document the process.
You'll find that by tracking and documenting your processes you'll be able to identify abnormalities. As soon as an abnormality is identified, reasons and causes should be sought. Once you've identified the cause of the abnormality, you can seek to find solutions to prevent them from reoccurring. This will greatly enhance your quality and reduce your costs as defects will be reduced.
Embracing GMPs will lead to increased quality, reduced costs and improved customer satisfaction. In addition, it will enable your company to go after some big customers that were otherwise unattainable. Hire a consultant or study up on GMPs on your own; the benefits are well worth the efforts.
Andrew Goldman is an Isenberg School of Management MBA student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has extensive experience working with small businesses on a consulting basis.
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