GMI - Print Quality Management Overview
Leading printers often boast that they are GMI certified, but details about the program can be hard to find. In this article, I’ll define GMI, discuss its history and significance, and demonstrate why it’s required by some of the top retailers to protect their brands.
What Is GMI?
GMI technically stands for Graphic Measures International, the company that developed the process. “GMI” has become shorthand for a standardized system which brands use to judge the quality of printing jobs.
GMI provides quality assurance for private branding. Vendors create products to be sold under house brands at major retailers, such as Threshold at Target or CVS Health at CVS. In addition to manufacturing the product itself, vendors must also create its packaging. That packaging must accurately represent the retailer’s brand, meaning every SKU on every shelf across the nation must be as close to perfect as possible.
GMI ensures this consistency. It monitors and reports each aspect of a print job, including paper, color, cut, fold, and even toxicity. It then scores the job and delivers the report to the brand and printer.
How Does GMI Work?
The GMI process is based off of ISO 12647, a family of standards for printing processes. GMI took these standards and applied a scoring system to them. Brands can pick the aspects of printing that they would like to monitor, and GMI sets the parameters for each metric. Once a print job is underway or complete, GMI tests printing samples an assigns a score to each metric. Items outside of tolerance earn points, which range from 0 to 3:
0 is ideal. No flaws.
1 and 2 indicate minor flaws.
3 denotes a major flaw and an automatic f ail for the entire print job.
Like golf, the fewer points the better. A job that racks up too many points, typically 18 to 21, is deamed a failure, and the job must be redone.
For example, let’s look at a GMI report for one of Adams’s recent jobs for Target. GMI tests three major categories: Graphic Management, Structure Management and Hazardous Materials. Each category is divided into individual subcategories, based on Target’s specific requirements for compliance, which receive scores between 0 and 3. Click on the image below for the full report.
During the printing processes the printer sends sample sheets directly to GMI for testing. If they pass, the packaging gets created and sent to the vendor. Once the vendor’s items hits the shelves, GMI often follows up on their original testing by taking in-store measurements. They monitor the same metrics while also counting product totals. Because vendors pay GMI for every submission, GMI checks whether printing and product totals match. They are not pleased when a vendor puts more products in stores after submitting fewer to GMI.
A small number of printers produce quality work so consistently that they are called High Performing Suppliers (HPS). An HPS can ship packaging and printed materials before GMI tests and approves their jobs. For any GMI retailer, there are typically one or two out of forty or more suppliers. Adams is one of them for Target, CVS, Lowes and many other national retailers. Regardless of whether our jobs will go to GMI for testing, we aim for GMI levels of compliance every time.
What Does GMI Cost?
GMI usually adds about 15% to the cost of any print job. The brand pays for GMI to monitor and test its printed materials.
Who Owns GMI?
SGS International purchased Graphic Measures International a few years ago. They are incorporating the process into their Brand Guardianship offering. From their website:
Our Brand Guardianship program, powered by HUGO, is our SGS best in class color management integrated with GMI established global packaging quality, to provide you with the ultimate closed loop solution.
How Can I Learn More About GMI?
Please feel welcome to contact me with any questions that you have about GMI. As a print consultant, I look forward to helping you.