Smaller manufacturers have an easier time starting GMP (good manufacturing practices) than bigger companies, mainly because there are fewer variables at play and each aspect of the manufacturing process is easier to manage. Thus, the earlier that a small operation starts applying GMP, the better their chances of scaling the business successfully.
That said, here are some essential tips that all small manufacturers should know to be better able to apply GMP, optimize their manufacturing process, and minimize the risks within the operation as a whole:
1. Invest in high-quality equipment
The backbone of a manufacturer of any size is its equipment. The type, number, and quality of the equipment that a manufacturer has will dictate the speed at which products are produced, the quality of the results, and the overall efficiency of operations. Having said that, any small manufacturer must invest in equipment that is at least above average in quality to achieve optimal efficiency, results, as well as safety.
Furthermore, a manufacturer may find it beneficial to form a partnership or agreement with another manufacturer. For instance, a company that manufactures packaged food can turn to reliable business partners such as Lakeside Manufacturing for things like transport cabinets and utility carts to optimize operations. On the other hand, a manufacturer that wants to reduce its processing time can rely on another manufacturer to produce the parts or ingredients that they need.
2. Hire enough help
It’s often possible to run a small manufacturing operation with only a handful of people, but it’s imperative that a company realizes if and when they need more hands on deck. This is especially true for operations whose processes cannot be automated and have to rely on actual human beings to get done, such as those that produce handcrafted specialties or cannot afford the expensive machinery required for automation.
Moreover, hiring enough people is vital to the overall productivity, efficiency, and motivation in the workplace. If the company is short-staffed, employees may be burdened with too much work, thus making it harder for them to maintain quality standards and increasing their risk of burnout. Furthermore, this could lead to increased mistakes in operation as people struggle to meet targets and, in turn, fail to focus on quality.
3. Develop solid supply chain management practices
Supply chain management plays a huge role in the results of a manufacturing operation–and the more optimized a supply chain is, the faster growth will be. That said, small manufacturers must focus on building excellent supply chain management practices from Day One, especially if there are a lot of variables (e.g. overseas shipments, multiple suppliers, complex manufacturing processes) at play.
However, manufacturers must also keep in mind that the supply chain doesn’t always go undisturbed. Supplies can come late, clients may send last-minute requests, and equipment can suddenly stop working. With that in mind, manufacturers must also create contingency plans to minimize downtime in case of a supply chain breakdown. These plans may include having a safety stock, making a list of backup suppliers, and including a ‘no last-minute changes’ in contracts with clients.
4. Free up space
A small operation will likely have a small space to work with, which may lead to the workplace looking and feeling cramped. Needless to say, it is more difficult to maintain efficiency in a cramped space, and having too much stuff in one area can lead to many safety risks, such as a fire spreading faster or boxes accidentally toppling over and causing injury.
While a small manufacturing company may not have the luxury of a bigger space, there are a lot of ways to work with a small one. For instance, getting rid of dead stock frees up space in the workshop and makes the area more functional. On the other hand, limiting the amount of inventory can help optimize storage and provide a better cash flow at the same time.
5. Invest in staff
Staff members are the most important assets of any business, especially for a small manufacturing operation that heavily relies on human workers to stay productive. That said, it makes perfect sense for a business to invest in its people first, which can be through providing additional training, offering learning opportunities outside of work, and creating a culture of continuous learning and constructive criticism in the workplace.
There is a handful of advantages that smaller operations have over larger ones, and that is the ability to apply good business practices more easily. These are just some of the best practices that small manufacturers can put into play, but they are, by far, some of the most effective.