Product recalls can be a headache for customers and consumers, but a financial nightmare for manufacturers.

Just look at the auto industry. An air-bag recall will cost one manufacture up to $235 million. While a gas pedal problem will hit another manufacture with upwards of $2 billion. Yes, billion.

But recalls aren’t isolated to the auto industry. Food. Toys. Tech. Virtually no industry goes untouched.

And it’s not just the size of a recall that matters. It’s the damage to your brand’s reputation. Plus, recalling a product is more complex than ever.

Here’s why. In the technology industry, for instance, IT infrastructure is made up of many interrelated software and hardware components. If a single component or line of code fails, the results could be catastrophic.

It’s also time consuming—and sometimes impossible—for manufacturers to find and replace recalled parts because of the required research and the issues related to a massive supply chain.

Yesterday’s question was how to streamlining and simplifying manufacturing to reduce product recalls?

We’ve been helping manufacturers optimize their business processes through IT for the last 30 years. Now, today’s question is how we can eliminate product recalls completely?

The answer, I believe, is the Internet of Everything. It’s in this era where we connect people, process, data, and things. It’s how we can connect systems and machines, with analytics and the use of cloud technology with the right people and processes to enable ultra-efficient and reliable production of goods.

With the use of these technologies, we can now envision predicting and preventing failures—both in the factory and in the field, with the goal of ultimately Eliminating the recall process altogether

But how do we get there?

‘Manufacturing Intelligence’ is the first step

Smart manufacturing technologies will drive transformation in three rapid, progressive phases.

The first is the integration of all manufacturing data throughout individual plants and across enterprises. This will lead to significant, immediate improvements in costs, safety, and environmental impacts.

This data, when paired with advanced analytics and modelling, is the second phase that will create robust manufacturing intelligence. The result will be flexible manufacturing, optimal production rates, and faster product customization.

And, as manufacturing intelligence grows, it will inspire a third phase—innovations in processes and products, making way for smart manufacturing as every industry will become highly digitized.

What business and technology leaders should be thinking about

Begin looking to the future now. To be a smart manufacturer you’ll need to develop a plan to:

  • Rapidly and securely integrate industrial automation and control with business systems
  • Build one common, converged rugged plant-to-business network
  • Improve operational costs and efficiency
  • Provide real-time visibility into everything happening in the supply chain to find and fix problems faster to improve production uptime and equipment availability
  • Improve security through network access control by user and location with identity services (this will help prevent unsafe counterfeit parts)

More Intelligence Leads to Better Quality, Faster Decisions

Stanley Black & Decker, for instance, has implemented a Wi-Fi infrastructure and plant-wide Ethernet to improve manufacturing. The result has been greater visibility and faster decision making. So far, they’ve dropped labeling defects by 16 percent and have increased throughput aby about 10 percent.

Sub-Zero, the pioneer of the built-in refrigerator, relies on an enterprise-grade, mobile video solution to improve their manufacturing process. This includes securely seeing detailed video and images to efficiently finalize designs, correct production-line issues, and train installers and servicers. They’ve reduced plant downtime by 5 to 10 percent and recently saved more than $40,000 on a project by eliminating travel and accelerating decision-making.

Imagine your business running with little to no risk of a product recall. Imagine the money you’d save, the business reputation you’d preserve.

That’s a worthy objective we can all strive to achieve. And with the Internet of Everything, it’s entirely within our reach. And especially when smart intelligence becomes part of every organization’s plan. It won’t happen overnight, but not too far in the future either.



John Kern

Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Operations