World's Largest Auto Recall Causes Demand for New Supplier Solutions

Michael Clark
Thu, Mar 10, 2016
Airbag problems affect numerous auto manufacturers.
Airbag problems affect numerous auto manufacturers.

Manufacturers working with suppliers have to carefully monitor purchases to ensure the final product meets the necessary quality and safety standards consumers demand. When a problem is detected during inventory management processes, a company must work with partners to fix the mistake or find a new vendor.

Some errors, however, are harder to find and won't be brought to a manufacturer's attention until after the merchandise makes it to market. Air bag problems, for example, often hide until the worst happens. Money CNN recently reported an auto recall due to faulty airbags has been expanded.

Cars with airbags from supplier Takata are the products in question. The safety devices have been found to explode when activated during an accident. So far, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration traced nine deaths to the products in the U.S. Consumers should return potentially dangerous car models and manufacturers need to find new solutions to keep their customers safe.

The Current Automobile Recall
The Takata airbag problem was detected Spring 2013, according to Bankrate. In 2015, the recall encompassed 26 million cars manufactured by more than a dozen different companies. At first, the problem was mostly found in older models, but in 2016, regulators said newer models may be at risk. This prompted Volkswagen and Daimler to recall 1.5 million cars and vans, including more recent products. 

This is the largest auto recall in history. Some say the problem is so big, it's highlighted a few problems with the data exchange between business partners, consumers and regulations. In the four years since the trouble was detected, problematic vehicles are still discovered in the supply chain. Ford, for example, was forced to issue two separate recalls due to previously unrecognized causes for concern.

Ideally, if consumers report a problem or regulators demand a recall the manufacturer should have a record of all products possibly affected that can be shared with all invested parties. 

Keeping Customers Safe
Consumers should be made instantly aware when a purchase places them in danger. The New York Times described how this recall made many consumers nervous, and the fact that it's been going on for years with more problems constantly being brought to the public's attention isn't helping.

The more information available to consumers, the better. The NHTSA provides auto buyers with information to learn if their vehicle is at risk. It's best, however, if the manufacturer contacts its customers itself. This displays transparency and the desire for businesses to prioritize consumer safety.

Proper data collection solutions create records businesses can share with customers and regulators. Problems with airbags are not always the fault of the manufacturer. The Coalition Against Insurance Fraud said many dishonest auto shops remove or disable airbags, putting drivers at risk. The crime isn't noticed until there is an accident - if at all - and a complete manufacturing record prevents blame from falling on the original company.

A major responsibility of supply chain logistics management is monitoring each touch point in distribution and use and detecting where problems occur. If the manufacturer is not the culprit, sharing data collection results with regulators may prevent future litigation.

Finding Other Solutions
The recent airbag recall is so huge, some manufacturer are not ready to fix the problem. Many consumers return their vehicles and have to wait weeks for replacement parts. Automakers need to find resources for new airbag equipment to keep their current clientele.

When a supplier proves troublesome, it's important to have alternatives at the ready. Shop floors should share supply information with company buyers and other relevant departments through automated data collection systems so mistakes with vendor materials are detected as fast as possible. Records should provide decision-makers with a complete history and research on other suppliers. Companies need details at the ready to make the best choices for their consumers' satisfaction and safety.

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