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DOCUMENTATION?!?! Who needs it!

documentationWell, actually, YOU do. And not only do you need a good trail of documentation in your business but you should also have a structured plan for WHAT to use, HOW to use it, and HOW LONG it should be stored.

Wikipedia states: “Good manufacturing practices (GMP) are the practices required in order to conform to the guidelines recommended by agencies that control authorization and licensing for manufacture and sale of food, drug products, and active pharmaceutical products. These guidelines provide minimum requirements that a pharmaceutical or a food product manufacturer must meet to assure that the products are of high quality and do not pose any risk to the consumer or public.”

Okay, so this refers directly to the pharmaceutical or food industry which is essential to preventing illness or worse yet, death! But, what about other manufacturing sectors?  Aren’t ‘Good Manufacturing Principles’ just as important, no matter the industry?  The answer is yes!  Documenting properly, in any industry or sector, (whether by paper or computer) will directly affect good manufacturing practices.

If you are a Manufacturer or Distributor how serious are you about documentation in your business? Think about the following terms: Traceability, Standardization, Accuracy, Communication, Control, and Consistency?  These are all attributes that you should consider as you create an effective plan for documentation as they will positively result from a well thought out strategy.

Whether or not you will attain certifications such as an ISO Quality standard, you should start with some basic good practices that avoid using word of mouth on the proper processing methods. For Production, Process Sheets are an easy one to implement and remember if it is not written down, did it really happen the way it should have?  Do operators really follow your instructions on how to produce your product?  Implementing these will help ensure that products are consistently produced and controlled to the quality standards appropriate to their intended use.  Other Production documentation to consider using (or reviewing how you are currently using) is Process Flow, Quality Alerts, Approved Deviations, and Calibration Records.

Another good area to review is your Engineering right from the Concept Development to Product Launch. This area is usually well documented with Prototype, Drawing Control, Approved Tooling, Approved Packaging, and Bill of Materials and it is always best that you can go back to review this as your product cycle goes on to see changes (expected or otherwise).

Some issues that I identified at one company included a multitude of problems and they were the direct result of NO DOCUMENTATION PLAN put in place at the beginning. We could not find any of the original Engineering documentation for many products, staff had changed, and processes as initially designed and priced had changed over time.  To add to this, it was apparent that there was a lack of engineering support for a number of years to ensure accuracy at product start and communication between Production and Engineering was non-existent. Comments had been added to Work Order paperwork from production associates but no changes were being made.  Essentially, Bill of Materials were no longer accurate, and this had various resulting problems: no one really knew when the product was truly unacceptable, and since the Bill of Material was now not accurate the purchasing was directly affected and then there was the cost issue.  Many products actually cost more to make than they were being sold at.  And did I mention that NO ONE was checking Quality anywhere in the process? This required several actions to rectify but it was a direct result of not having a documentation plan in place.

Remember, effective documentation will always help you to see what a manufacturing process has been doing and enhances the visibility of the quality assurance system. It is the key to good manufacturing principles.  It will help ensure compliance to set parameters, traceability, expected quality levels, and improved communication.

Good Luck !!!  Have a great day!

Optimizing the Space in Your Production and Warehouse Area

warehouse.product. reorg

I had a customer recently that needed to reorganize a production and warehouse area to maximize the space and utilize some extra square footage afforded to them. Although the area was not exactly optimal for the current needs of the production or warehouse areas, it was critical to ensure a sufficient plan was in place as they were committed to this particular building for five more years.   It is a reality in business today that you have to make the best of some situations and weather some tough time periods in less than favourable conditions.

This being said, a proper plan can be put into place that will increase employee’s efficiencies, minimizes people movement, and optimizes incoming stock, storage and outgoing product. This is a very achievable project if you take the time to plan effectively.  Also remember that safety considerations should be at the top of your list at this time.  Yes, you want to maximize your space but be realistic about what is safe or not; do NOT EVER cut any corners.

All things necessary should be considered, both in the short term and long term; you must also keep in the back of your mind: how will our plan (and new equipment) fit into a potential new building in the future? I know of a company that once purchased a new forklift that was only capable of reaching a certain height (their building was very small and had extremely low ceilings). They knew they were moving in less than two years and when they arrived in their new building had to purchase another new forklift that was capable of reaching their new racking in their higher ceiling warehouse.  This was an unexpected $30,000 purchase that could have been avoided if they had planned ahead effectively.

And finally, at the end of the day you want happy and motivated employees. This is also a great time to utilize your staffs input as they are your best source of information.  They have valid ideas where you can make immediate improvements to their current pains of completing their jobs.  I can’t stress enough….Communicate, communicate, and communicate.  Keep all employees up to date on the project plan, including the reason for it, gaining input, and as the project is ongoing right through to completion.

Good Luck!!! Have a great day!

PLANNING AHEAD FOR 2016…AND BEYOND…..

plan 2016

It is unbelievable that 2015 is soon coming to a close!! Where has the year gone?!?! That being said, the last few business days of the year are a GREAT time for reflection for you and YOUR business….you should be thinking about yourself personally, professionally, financially, and strategically….and HOW do all of those tie into your business?

Whether you are the Owner, Manager or work on the shop floor, you need to think about these things!

1.) What’s important to me personally? Work/Life balance usually tops the list under this heading; I know it does for me. Do you have to make any adjustments to maintain this balance for the benefit of your home and work life?

2.) What’s important both financially and strategically for the business to stay afloat? Or if you have had a good year, what is important for it to continue to thrive?

3.) What pain points have reared their ugly heads in your business and they simply won’t go away? These do need to be dealt with. Relax, rest assured EVERY company has at least one thing that seems to be a sticking point to holding back on progress.

4.) And what specifically do we need to do in 2016 that would help us be more efficient and profitable? Choose one or two simple solutions and figure out how to implement them.

Setting goals and objectives for both yourself AND your company and ensuring alignment from a financial and strategic point of view is important; this is fundamental so you and your team can reap the rewards of managed growth. And isn’t this what we all want?

And finally, do you have a Business Plan that looks out up to five years for your business? I know it is very hard to be proactive in this regard but it really is a necessity. Have you honestly thought about more than two quarters ahead? I know things can go so quickly and it is tough particularly for smaller businesses to think much ahead of staying afloat but when it comes down to it: Every business needs to have a focus and this will equate directly to ensuring you remain competitive in today’s marketplace. For example, do you pay attention to things such as the changing market conditions and are you prepared to act accordingly? Having an active Business Plan can help keep you on course, both in the good times and the bad.

Don’t forget to focus on your wins from last year, no matter how minor – they will give you the confidence and allow you to gain traction and move forward. Best of luck with your planning!!

If you should need any help with any of the above points, HMC is available to assist you.

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2016 ….AND BEYOND…..

Mentoring New Employees

ourWorkers1

Having a positive Culture is so important to a company’s growth and should never be underestimated.  Do you want to own the company where the culture is not so positive and employees purposely call in sick to stay away?  Or be the one that ends up with a bad reputation which will make it hard to recruit anyone to fill needed positions?  I think not.

But what do you do if your organization is faltering in this regard?  No matter what the state of your company, there are some practices that you can implement to help create and instill some positivity into your company culture.  One of these things is to ensure that you are starting the employer / employee relationship off on the right foot ; the more positive this relationship begins, the higher the chance that this employee will stay with your company.

I am a firm believer in ensuring that new employees receive a proper Orientation when they start a new job.  What would I classify as a proper Orientation?  Ensuring that there is a training plan developed for each employee that allots for sufficient time with existing employees. This includes familiarizing the new employee with Human Resources and Health & Safety expectations, direct training on the job plus training from other employees so the new employee understand some of the other company tasks and gets to meet others in a more relaxed setting.  Employees should both understand their function, other employees functions and how each job intersects.

Installing a mentoring program into your company may be a natural extension to this.  Here’s an article that speaks directly to this and while not for everyone, it can definitely be a consideration.

Article – by Rex Huppke

Mentoring Can Make a Workplace seem like Home