Basic Tips About How to Avoid Product Recalls

Over many years’ experience in China sourcing business, we’ve heard of stories about organizations seeking to resolve a recall situation. While many of these calls are reactive, a proactive approach is recommended to avoid the cost and overall impact to stakeholders.

How can you avoid product recalls?

1. Know Product Safety Requirements –  Avoiding recalls generally starts with product design and specification development. Due diligence is required to determine if any applicable testing is required depending on the market in which it will be sold. Contacting a testing lab for a general inquiry is worth the time and effort. Researching ANSI, ASTM, FDA, CE standards is also advised. A third party’s expertise can also be leveraged here and specifications development/testing can be outsourced.

2. Know Your Suppliers – Supplier selection is a critical component in the quality process. Verifying suppliers and performing an on-site evaluation adds an additional level of assurance. Considerations include:

A. Management---Is there a quality manual, and how are people trained?

B. Engineering---Are there control systems and a formal system of using updated drawings/specs?

C. Manufacturing---Is there documentation, a maintenance program, etc.?

D. Quality Control System---Is there a quality department, and how much ultimate responsibility do they have?

E. Incoming QC---Are raw materials inspected, and is inspection equipment calibrated?

E. In-process Control---Are all work stations and processes carefully monitored?

F. Final QC---Are all products well inspected before shipment?

G. Packaging---Are the products well packaged to prevent damaged and properly labeled?

H. Non-Conforming Materials---Is there a specific area for non-conforming materials and applicable training for handling/reporting?

I. Corrective Action---Is corrective action properly communicated, documented and follow-up on?

3. Enforce Quality Inspections – Even the most highly rated suppliers have been known to release a shipment or two with quality issues that somehow went unseen. Some of these quality concerns can end up being safety issues that can easily result in recalls or other rework/warranty situations. For an added level of assurance, incorporate pre-shipment inspections. These happen when the shipment is 100% produced and about 80% packaged. So, you’re able to confirm visual/workmanship issues, functionality and packaging integrity issues.

Use a verified 3rd party inspection company to visit the factory, and do a thorough quality inspection for every production lot, and not release final payment until you are satisfied with inspection results.