Vetting your Vendors is key to consistent Product Quality.
All materials or services from vendors must be vetted to ensure all activities and purchased product qualities meet appropriate pre-defined specifications. Botanically derived nutritional and dietary supplements are notorious for having variation, and vendors will ofter shirk their responsibility to confirm the Critical Quality Attributes of the materials they are selling. This puts the onus on the manufacturer to ensure their raw materials are qualified for use. All such vetting processes are risk management activities, where risks are weighed to ensure final product quality specifications will not be compromised.
Vendor auditing should occur to ensure suppliers and service providers are competent to fulfill their roles and provide materials in a fully characterized supply chain. Periodic vendor audits should be performed to ensure all agreements and specifications are met, and that product quality is continuously improved. All materials and services provided by vendors should be monitored for meeting quality specifications, managing risks to final product quality.
It is wise to have a vendor agreement that establishes the responsibility of the vendor to supply raw materials that meet the specifications your organization has set. This is a huge topic that is often glanced over, as we have observed in countless GMP audits in the pharmaceutical, nutritional and dietary supplement, cannabis, and cosmetics industries. Choose one quality vendor that consistently supplies high quality materials, and build a good relationship with them. Ultimately, Vendor Agreements are the art of relationship management in manufacturing. Choose your vendors wisely, treat them well, and they should do the like in return.
Action you can take:
Make a list of all the raw materials used in your manufacturing operation. Identify which vendors are supplying raw materials that are critical to product quality. Rank the raw materials by the relative risk they pose if they do not meet specifications. Then talk to to your vendors. Ask them about variation in their supply chains, and find the right vendor for the raw materials. Put effort into building your vendor relationships, and your product quality will grow in proportion.
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