Recalls are uncommon in the electronics industry. However, it sometimes does occur, when there are product malfunctions or contaminations that have the potential to cause health problems or death. Consider Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 recall that made headlines last year. It’s important for OEMs to know how to quickly implement a reverse supply chain to address the problem.
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), if a product is found to be toxic or harmful, retailers and manufacturers are responsible for proper disposal of the product in compliance with federal regulations to prevent further contamination or leakage of hazardous materials. Discarding the recalled product may involve storage and treatment before the products at question are fully disposed of. In the event of an electronics recall, all affected items are sent back to the warehouse where they are segregated from inventory to ensure that they are not mistakenly distributed or harming other products.
Using a warehouse execution system (WES) is useful in the event of product recalls to help manage items both upstream and downstream in the supply chain. By integrating a WES with external systems, companies are able to respond to problems within the manufacturing process in a timely manner, preventing contaminated or malfunctioning products from leaving the facility, and saving the company both time and money.
Identifying root causes
An integrated WES can help manufacturers discover issues that have caused the malfunction or contamination sooner by providing a high-degree of product traceability. Earlier detection of issues in products helps manufacturers and retailers have a better understanding of what individual products need to be recalled, potentially reducing the scope of the recall to only the affected inventory.
Recalling affected products
In the event of a recall, it is essential to get the affected products back to the warehouse in a timely manner. Utilizing a WES that is tightly integrated with other supply chain systems helps manufacturers quickly and easily identify products that should be part of a recall. Utilizing the information from the WES, manufacturers and retailers can address industry-critical questions and provide customers with the necessary information needed to identify and return the recalled product efficiently.
Handling product returns
A well-managed process is important when processing recalled products efficiently. Once a product recall has been initiated, Quality assurance (QA) steps are taken to make sure each returned item is tracked and securely segregated from the rest of the stock to prevent further contamination. An integrated WES meticulously records the complete process of the recall, making it easier for QA to validate that the full quantity of the recalled goods has been returned.
The advanced track-and-trace capabilities of warehouse automation are beneficial in helping manufactures and distributors reduce and prevent recalling products. A WES that is fully integrated with each manufacturing process has the ability to identify issues and provide automatic alerts when products are contaminated, keeping them in-house and ultimately eliminating the recall process, saving both time and money for companies and consumers.