As per this recent article in Inbound Logistics, product recalls cost the U.S. economy $7 Billion annually, and the average product recall costs $10 Million. That’s Ten Million US Dollars that will disappear from your bank account if you are faced with a recall and are unable to quickly and effectively recall product. This is an incredible risk to your viability, and a real risk for the vast majority of companies that struggle with real-time visibility and managing inventory across a network of suppliers, distributors, and manufacturers.
Every day of recall delay results in lost revenue and lost consumer confidence, and, if you’re talking products with salmonella or e-coli poisoning, additional lost lives. The first empties your bank account, the second dries up your revenue stream, and the third can shut you down if consumers decide they do not trust your brand anymore (even if the regulators chalk it up to an accident and allow you to continue operating with additional monitoring and safety precautions).
Ten years ago, given the dearth of supply chain visibility solutions and the cost of extended enterprise ERP systems that could manage your inventory and talk to supplier systems through EDI, you might have had an excuse to not have such a system as it would have cost you 10 Million to acquire and implement such a solution and millions in annual maintenance costs to maintain it. Given that serious incidents, like supply chain disruptions, were much rarer than they are today, the cost savings just weren’t there (and by the time you extracted the relevant data and sent the message out to the affected parties, who probably had to be faxed, the damage was done, the news was on TV, and the opportunity to prevent a significant number of injuries and death wasn’t there).
But today, when you can acquire such solutions for six figures and completely map the supply chains of the suppliers who account for the majority of the goods you buy, and all critical or perishable items, there is no excuse. Properly implemented, these systems can track the complete chain of custody for any item manufactured, stored, or shipped within the supply chain and when (not if) a recall is needed, a simple query will pull up the inventory location by item, batch, and lot — anywhere, and at any time.
In addition to the quick location of an affected product, the system allows a manufacturer to focus in on contaminated or faulty batches, instead of recalling an entire product line because the affected product cannot be isolated quickly enough. So not only is the supply chain more visible, but actions can be taken on a more granular level – allowing a company to minimize the impact to the revenue and reputation with minimal effort and cost. As Nike would say, Just Do It.