Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $700 billion annually. In order to do a product recall properly, it’s important to have a robust system of checks and balances in place.
Sure, we all make mistakes sometimes but what happens when the mistake affects hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people? If you’re a card-carrying member of the manufacturing community and a mistake is brought to your attention after your product has been released, it’s obviously not the best situation to be in. But as the old saying goes, “stuff happens,” and as it relates to product recalls, it seems like “stuff” happens more frequently than it should.
To underscore this point, feel free to scare yourself silly by taking a stroll on over to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Division Web site, where a handy search tool allows everyday folks to look up their favorite recalled product.
But perhaps one of the most disturbing recall of recent times is a recent bit of news about Bausch & Lomb.
The popular eyewear maker said this week that it is permanently pulling its ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution from all markets worldwide, saying the product may increase the risk of a rare fungal infection that could make people blind. Wonderful.
Bausch thinks that some element of its MoistureLoc formula may have been responsible for the outbreak of Fusarium keratitis in users in some circumstances.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said that the fungal inspection appeared linked to the design and use of Bausch’s ReNu with MoistureLoc formula. The outbreak infected about 120 people in the United States alone. In a video feed off the Bausch & Lomb Web site, Chairman and CEO Ron Zarrella said his company has launched a massive investigation into what the heck is going on.
And that’s exactly what he should be doing, according to industry experts like Marsh Risk Consulting, who cite the infamous Tylenol tampering case as a prime example of how to do product recalls the right way. Be honest, proactive and open to change to ensure that more costly boo-boos aren’t lurking around the corner. Marsh seems to have a decent handle on why it’s so important to have a robust system of checks and balances in place:
The pressure to quickly release new products to satisfy consumer and shareholder demands may mean that safety checks and balances are overlooked, resulting in a growing number of recalled products. As the illness, injury, or death toll mounts due to product failure, any financial gain that may result from getting a new product to market quickly and at consumer-friendly prices is soon offset by the costs of a recall, resulting lawsuits, and damage to corporate and brand reputation.
But tech firms serve up solutions that can help companies of all shapes and sizes to find flaws before products leave the factory. For instance, consider the potential from a company such as UGS:
A digital manufacturing-for-traceability system enables manufacturers to better control the quality and performance of manufacturing processes in a mixed IT, mixed automation and multi-tier supplier manufacturing environment. It reduces the manufacturing cost of quality and warranty management while minimizing the negative impact recalls and poor quality have on the brand.
At some point in the near future, UGS believes that good ‘ol Uncle Sam is going to slap all sorts of mandates on companies to comply with component and product traceability.
Does the world need another mandate? Let us know.