Product compliance can be a daunting task — from keeping up with changing requirements and regulations to understanding how to use compliance reporting tools and constantly communicating about materials with suppliers and manufacturers. With such a wide-ranging set of tasks, it may be easy to overlook some of the essential best practices for product compliance. However, mistakes hold your products back and prevent them from getting to your customers.
Being prepared and using efficient product compliance procedures can boost your compliance program and ensure success into the future. Find out if you are making some of these common product compliance mistakes, and learn how you can fix these issues before they become a problem.
Mistake #1: Lack of High-Quality Data
High-quality data is the cornerstone of materials compliance reporting. You can’t afford to give chemicals data your best guess or inaccurately report a material in your product because of an overlooked piece of data. This will prevent you from being able to meet requirements, and it might have you backtracking for more information when you are down to the wire with a deadline.
Ensuring data quality starts with communication. You need to be in frequent contact with your suppliers and/or manufacturers. Do your suppliers understand the requirements that need to be met? Has anything in the makeup of their component or part changed recently? Do they know the timeline for when you need to receive data? Do you understand the requirements of the customer you supply to?
When you receive data either from your internal team or your suppliers you will want to review it thoroughly. Is the data accurate and complete? Do you have any questions about the data? You will want to get answers to any questions before you are in a time crunch.
You will also want to frequently review the data you already have. Is anything outdated or inaccurate? Is your data consistent throughout your system and is it in the right format?
Keeping an eye on the quality of your data, both from your suppliers and within your own system, is essential to being able to meet compliance requirements. By frequently reviewing the data you receive, you will be better prepared for deadlines and able to fix issues before they create delays with your products.
Mistake #2: Lack of Full Materials Declarations
One of the best ways to make sure you are able to meet any requirement at any time is by keeping a full materials declaration (FMD) for each of your products if possible. An FMD details all the chemical information about your product, and, if you follow best practices, should remain up to date any time there is a change to a material or part.
When you have an FMD you will have all the information you need about a product at your fingertips and ready to go. New data requirements won’t create a scramble to find the information; it will already be in your system and ready for you to use to meet the requirements.
If you work within the automotive industry, you already use the International Material Data System (IMDS) to create an FMD (although you can include a small amount of miscellaneous unreported substances). But if you are outside the automotive industry, there are other ways to keep track of the materials in your products.
One system is the Compliance Data Exchange (CDX), which is a materials data system that can help you gather FMDs for your products across a variety of industries. If you’re interested in getting started with a system like CDX, Tetra Tech’s compliance experts can help you.
Mistake #3: Relying Too Heavily on Spreadsheets
When dealing with a long list of chemicals and materials for your products, it may seem easier to keep track of them manually with various spreadsheets. There may be data that seems like it doesn’t fit neatly within your system, or special cases you need to keep track of separately. But complicated spreadsheets where information is entered manually without systemic checks can too easily introduce costly errors.
Data systems like IMDS and CDX have features that make it easier for you to keep track of complicated data within the system. In fact, the recent IMDS 13.0 release included an update to support multi-sourcing components so you can keep track of these components within the system instead of on a separate spreadsheet.
Other sophisticated compliance software solutions further cut down on the need to keep track of data manually, and, with the right cost analysis, can ultimately save you time and money in addition to decreasing data errors. Be sure to fully examine the systems you are using so you can understand how they can help you reduce manual materials tracking.
Mistake #4: Using Systems Without the Right Training
When you begin using a new compliance system or software, it may be tempting to jump right in and figure it out as you go along. But starting to use a new system without the right training can not only be daunting — it can also cost you money. Using systems like IMDS or CDX or a new compliance software you have purchased can be complicated, and not knowing how to use them is an inefficient use of your time and can cause mistakes.
Getting training for a new system is essential — whether you are an experienced compliance professional or are brand new to materials compliance reporting. For compliance software solutions you have purchased, review any materials or resources the company provides before you get started. For systems like IMDS and CDX, Tetra Tech offers online professional trainings that can be completed at your own pace and include hands-on exercises to help you use the systems with confidence.
Mistake #5: Not Keeping Your Eye on the Horizon
Product regulations and requirements are constantly changing. As governments around the world have become more aware of the impact of certain chemicals on consumers, there have been increased efforts to regulate these chemicals. This can include systems like the Substances of Concern in Products (SCIP) database being introduced or efforts to decrease the use of potentially harmful chemicals like, for example, PFAS.
We can only expect the regulations on chemicals to get stricter and see more enforcement in the future.
Being prepared for such changes and keeping your eye on the horizon for potential new regulations is essential to running a smooth compliance program. You don’t want new regulations to come as a surprise; you want to be prepared for them. By being prepared for future changes you can make changes to your supply chain without scrambling, have FMDs ready to go to meet new regulations and have the high-quality data you need for any requirement or request.
Get Product Compliance Support
To be better prepared to meet materials compliance regulations and prevent product compliance mistakes, get support from compliance experts. Tetra Tech’s team has years of experience meeting regulations, using systems like IMDS and CDX, training compliance professionals and managing compliance reporting.