Your System Is ready For Reverse Logistics Are You ?

Software is capable of functions such as lot traceability and systems capable of tracking all inbound an outbound deliveries, is your organization using its system efficiently?  This article will illustrate how companies are ill prepared for the reverse logistics through their supply chain and retail product recalls.

The  reverse business processes for organizations when recalling products  often do not exist and if so are poorly executed.  The gap between the data stored by the enterprise business system software and interpretation of that data can be easily aggregated to identify the defective units.  Today’s system systems have outpaced the organizational readiness for product recalls.  Luckily, with QA standards being what they are today this is a rare occasion but nonetheless organizations should have a contingency plan to recall defective skus.

Now that your organization has delivered the product to customers what happens when there is the need for a product recall. Does your company have the correct business processes in place if a product recall is needed ?

In this example we will examine a component for an automotive assembly.  This assembly consists of several components from various suppliers.  These components will be assembled into a certain model of car for a particular model year as part of the entire finished component.  Let’s say that the assembly is a dashboard, with a faulty wiring harness for the radio that may cause fire. The car is now complete and some were delivered to customers while some reside at car dealerships.

If your job was to recall these defective automobiles with the faulty dashboard assembly where would you begin? Let’s start by examining what components are in the dashboard assembly.  There is the molded plastic shell, in which components of the radio, odometer, tachometer, gas gauges, vent cutouts and and various electronics are contained. The software system you have in place can actually identify the faulty wiring component, the part number, the supplier and the date of the manufacturer and the serial number for the radio.  How does your organization start the recall to reverse the logistics processes that distributed the parts in the first place.   Is there a process to identify where the current defective parts are, is there a difference if the faulty dash is a t dealer or if  consumer has it, how will the recall notices be sent out and tracked, how is the repair monitored that it is now correct,how will the vehicles get back to the dealerships, who will cover the transportation costs of returining to the dealer, how are customers least inconvenienced, who will pay for the cost the supplier or the car manufacturer? These are just some of the questions the manufacturer must answer if a recall is in order.

With all the recent automotive recalls these companies have learned that it is not that their systems are deficient but are there business processes in order to comply with the system integrity?  Now that the stage is set for the correct information at your fingertips to recall the defective units is your company prepared to handle a recall ?  Experience from botched recalls such as  toys with lead paint, food with bacteria and more recently with Toyota, have proven ineffective processes causing excess losses to the bottom line.

The data available in todays systems must be able to be interpreted correctly and the corresponding business processes that can be designed from the aggregated data need to be formulated.   The business processes must not only exist  but also be optimized to reduce loss.  The gap that organizations often face is that their method to recall products through their supply chains down to retail levels are often not complete and not executed properly. These incomplete processes lead to even more shareholder loss.

The execution of fragmented and incomplete processes often multiply headaches for manufacturers.  These processes can quickly magnify if suppliers are global where quality standards are not often adhered to. Further problems due to lack of visibility from foreign suppliers through the supply chain can continue to occur if goods are in transit and/or are already in process of being manufactured for future demand fulfillment.

Organizations must find a way to interpret the data they already own and bridge their deficient business processes and follow up with proper execution. Organizations need to build their business processes to leverage the already existing data.  Organizations should not only have these processes in place but be able to execute on how they are performed and tracked.  This contingency will minimize losses and increase customer satisfaction by accommodating the customer and building brand recognition.

Further, they must control the execution of those processes and make sure that the plans they have made for their reverse logistics process can coincide with the available data from their systems. Having a process in place is one thing, but also to be able to execute the process effectively without much deviation and efficiency can make the difference on how well you perform a recall or how much money your company loses.   This is a case of not the technology failing but the people centric processes failing.

Eval-Source is an Analyst/Consulting consulting firm that offers enterprise software evaluation, cloud computing consulting, business process optimization and technology planning for organizationsOur innovative professional services make your life easier whether it is to acquire enterprise software  or provide you with fact – based information to match your business with IT. Eval-Source provides critical  decision support to validate your technology investments using the Tru-Eval  system.  Follow our blog at or on twitter @eval_source or our site


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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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