January 04, 2016
Quality Products From Ideation to Delivery
by Steve Tew
In business, as in life, our reputation depends on the value of what we offer. As executives in the direct selling industry, customers and distributors count on our commitment to provide them with superior products and services. At 4Life® Global Headquarters, we approach quality as a commitment built into every step of the production process, from ideation to delivery.
Ideation and Qualification
One of the best guarantees for quality in any area of business is to hire employees whose skill set, passion and commitment closely match the company’s cultural values. This is particularly true when it comes to ideation. Thought leaders are essential to the product development process. We train our Research and Development and Quality Control team members in the latest industry rules, regulations and trends so that they can, in turn, develop unique products that drive demand. By empowering employees with training and education, we give them the tools necessary to innovate.
As a manufacturer of dietary supplements, we know that we can’t create superior products with inferior ingredients.
Once we’ve agreed on the direction of a new product, we begin at the ingredient level to ensure the quality of our finished good. As a manufacturer of dietary supplements, we know that we can’t create superior products with inferior ingredients. Our Quality Control procedures focus on proactive and preventive measures, as well as detective controls. And we routinely update documents to reflect the shifts and growth patterns in our corporate knowledge base.
The new product process often takes years of research, with many levels of collaboration to identify, characterize, and source the very best and most effective ingredients. Because we strive to uphold superior manufacturing processes and ethical business practices, we validate the identity, purity, strength and composition of all ingredients and product formulations. For this reason, we demand the highest quality from our ingredient suppliers in order to maintain confidence and integrity within our raw material supply chain.
Testing and More Testing
Vetting the supplier is only the first step. All incoming raw materials are subject to specifically designed release criteria. Our Quality Control team takes samples from each receipt. Since test results are only as good as the sample, we place a significant focus on our sampling procedure.
By utilizing chronological documentation—a chain of custody throughout the life cycle of a product sample—we can trace everything that happens throughout the process. If a sample doesn’t meet our strict specifications, we know why. Testing is perhaps the most crucial aspect of this initial vetting process, since those results reflect the quality of the ingredients. Many different ingredient varieties, strengths, and formulations are screened to ensure we receive the best and most appropriate materials. Once our Research and Development team has found a raw material that meets its stringent criteria, several lots go through further testing to ensure it can be manufactured consistently, that it’s compatible with other ingredients, and that it can be scaled up to production-level quantities.
I am very confident in the knowledge and capabilities of our Research and Development and Quality Control team members. We train our employees in the latest improvements in technology and processes. And we empower them with the expertise and tools necessary to follow through with corporate strategic initiatives.
By law, all dietary supplement manufacturers must follow current Good Manufacturing Practices (cGMPs). At 4Life, we take it one step further and utilize similar guidelines and technical criteria found in the pharmaceutical industry. This is another way that we seek to provide the very best for our customers and distributors.
For example, our blending and encapsulation equipment was qualified and validated prior to any product manufacturing. This endorsement ensures that our blends are uniform from initial mixing through encapsulation, guaranteeing that the product’s purity, strength and composition are identical from the beginning to the end of the manufacturing process.
We also employ similar pharmaceutical-grade, equipment-qualification and method-validation processes in all quality control lab testing. As opposed to a “one-size-fits-all” approach, all critical testing for vitamin and/or mineral ingredients is fully validated against the 4Life products in which the ingredients are found. This commitment to substantiation allows us to utilize testing that is specific to our products and avoid potential interferences that could yield invalid test results.
Product color is a “quality test” that all of us subconsciously perform every time we pick up a product. Many raw botanical materials have significant color differences that may be related to time of harvest, geographical location or even quality issues. This can result in vague color differences in the finished product (off-white to tan or beige, greenish to brown, etc.).
To address this issue, our Quality Control team systematically color tests 4Life dietary supplements, utilizing a handheld spectro-colorimeter to examine each ingredient and objectively assign that material a three-dimensional color coordinate. From there, a model is generated to determine a Pantone® color target for each raw material. With that color in mind, the team assesses incoming raw materials for color consistency and quality. This process reduces the number of color-related concerns from our consumers and helps us predict issues that may arise based on color perception.
Supplement manufacturers should always look for opportunities to partner with academic institutions and third-party research facilities. At 4Life, we’ve worked with institutions such as Auburn University, University of Missouri, Northwestern University and University of Utah to advance our exploratory research efforts and demonstrate that our products are effective.
Throughout my service as President and CEO, I’ve discovered that closely monitoring our manufacturing process empowers us to be truly innovative. Last month, 4Life held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for a new manufacturing facility in Vineyard, Utah. This facility adheres to strict Good Manufacturing Practices, as outlined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). And it includes state-of-the-art packaging, encapsulation and blending equipment to ensure that our customers and distributors get the highest-quality products possible. This new facility also gives us start-to-finish control over every step of the manufacturing process, including the batching, blending, encapsulation and packaging of most 4Life Transfer Factor® products.
In the direct selling industry, we must be experts in all facets of our business. However, providing high-quality products is the lifeblood of success for independent distributors. At 4Life, we take that charge very seriously. We ensure the excellence of our products through qualification, testing, academic partnerships, validation, innovation and more. When 4Life customers and distributors take any of our products, they know they’re getting the very best. In fact, we guarantee it.
Steve Tew is President and CEO of 4Life Research.