You might wonder what’s the point of going to all the trouble of following good manufacturing practices … after all, your products are great, right?
The whole reason for implementing good manufacturing practices is to ensure that your great product is great … every batch, every bar, every time. GMP is there to address and control every factor before it has a chance to adversely affect your product quality.
All good manufacturing practices guidelines come from practical experience of the things that not only could, but probably have, resulted in poor quality (or even unsafe) products. If you think about it, that could include everything from contaminants getting into the product (such as dust, insects or bacteria) to poor quality ingredients, untrained personnel or just plain stupid mix-ups of materials.
It’s a lot easier to have those problems in a large, commercial, factory-like setting, where you have many people participating in the process – but that doesn’t mean that the same principles don’t apply to a one-man show. They do, but it’s likely that different aspects of GMP are more important in a small operation.
Of course, most handcrafters intuitively address many of the issues that can be big problems in a commercial facility, just because of the close-up, hands-on methods employed in small production. You probably don’t think too much about whether there are mice in your mixing area, because you have already taken steps to ensure there aren’t mice in your house or shop as part of your life in general. You can, and probably do, visually inspect every ingredient before you add it, and every aspect of your production while it’s ongoing (unlike large, automated where much of what’s going on it out of sight). When it comes to the actual production, you already know what does or doesn’t affect your product quality, and you make sure that everything is done as it should be.
It’s because of these factors that handcrafted soap and cosmetics are generally very high quality, with little variance in the different batches and products.
However, the KEY to good manufacturing practices is DOCUMENTATION of ALL the factors that could adversely affect your product quality. It is keeping it out of the realm of relying on “intuition” or “memory” and putting it into the realm of written procedures and processes, and documentation that those procedures and processes were correctly followed every time.
Truth is, the point of GMP is to help you make sure all your bases are covered and that nothing is accidentally overlooked.
If you’ve ever thought or had to remember ….
- “When did I get that ingredient?”
- “Where did that ingredient come from?”
- “Now what was it that I did last time that worked so well?”
- “Is my scale correctly calibrated?”
- “When did I make this bottle of lotion?”
- “Where did I put the ____?”
- “How long has that batch of soap been curing?”
- “Do I have enough ___ to make this batch?”
- “Who is my supplier for ___?”
and you didn’t instantly have the answer in your written documentation, then you need to work on your good manufacturing practices!