Every year, thousands upon thousands of devices are recalled. From automobiles to peanut butter, the number of product malfunctions has been growing and bleeding manufacturing companies dry. For every recall, there is the loss of the product itself, its purchase price, the cost of notifying consumers, the costs of transporting the items back to the manufacturer, the cost of disposing of the items, and more.
When it all adds up, many businesses are forced to close, or at least downsize — and that’s IF they can stay in business. According to New York-based research firm Harris Interactive, roughly 15 percent of consumers will never buy that product again, and a whopping 21 percent refuse to buy anything from that brand, ever.
Help your company avoid product malfunctions and recalls by following these best practices.
Audit Production Facilities
Start by auditing any production facilities, suggests Industry Weekly. Ask for references and verify them. You might also want to look at how many claims have been filed against that manufacturer, be it insurance or litigation. In many cases, it will be appropriate to ask for an indemnification clause in your contract, as well as liability insurance. You may also want to inspect items that the manufacturer has made for other clients. This will give you a good idea of the quality that comes out the door. After you’ve decided on a particular production facility, continue to audit them. Periodically inspect the items they are producing for you as well, as the records the company keeps. If you pull and test a sample from each batch, you should be able to verify product integrity.
Use the Right Materials
Next, Entrepreneur says to examine the materials used in production. Better materials tend to perform better. Think of exercise clothing manufacturer Lululemon. The Vancouver-based company skipped proper testing of its popular leggings and ended up manufacturing sheer pants. Had Lululemon established more stringent product specifications for its leggings, that mishap and all the returns would not have happened.
Now those were leggings, but the principle holds for manufacturers of all kinds. Using trusted materials, like higher-grade carbon fiber or Viton Fluorocarbon o-rings, can help you develop a product that is at lower risk of malfunctioning.
Complete Adequate Testing
Once you have found the right materials at the right price, you will need to test those components to make sure that they are physically capable to deliver the performance you need, says EPS News. From there, it is time to implement quality control standards, such as a sampling plan, to ensure that nothing leaves production until it meets the standards you’ve established.
Don’t be afraid to test and double-check your production facilities. If you have a strong relationship with your suppliers, you can develop manufacturing guidelines and processes through collaboration. This way, you can design for manufacturability as well as the concept.
Product malfunctions are expensive. What you don’t lose in recalls, you lose in customer loyalty. A product that fails too quickly is not something anyone is going to buy twice, and some people may never purchase another product from your company. Prevent product malfunctions by conducting regular audits of your production facilities and inspecting the materials you use in production. Finally, make sure that you complete adequate testing before a customer sees the finished product. When you conduct your due diligence at each step of the production process, you can effectively prevent product.