Products could be recalled or investigated due to safety concerns, non-compliance to regulations, ineffectiveness, accidents, tampering, customer complaints or when further research or testing is required.
In the case of the soothers the item broke apart in an infant's mouth leading to a potential choking hazard and the aircraft lithium-ion battery caught fire leading to potentially life-threatening situations on board the aircraft.
Customers purchase from reputable companies with the expectation of owning reliable products that are neither dangerous nor defective.
However in the event that a product is found to be faulty or dangerous and leads to accidents action needs to be taken to avoid unfavourable publicity and a subsequent loss of credibility (and income) for the company.
An efficient and speedy response to a faulty product is necessary to mitigate the fallout and comprehensive, accurate and version controlled documentation is a critical factor in determining the success or failure of dealing with the scenario of a defective product.
Manufacturers can initiate investigations into defective products in order to identify the cause and provide information for future improvements.
In order to do this there is often a need to retrace a series of processes and procedures to establish the specific cause of a problem.
A range of documentation is involved in the investigative or recall process including customer complaints, effectiveness checks and associated data while manufacturers and retailers must provide documentation that will ensure that they are in the clear.
The ability to identify specific products (by model, serial numbers, batch or date codes) and trace customers who have purchased the faulty products significantly influences the success of a product recall process.
An accurate document management system will enable a company to hone in on specific causes of defects consequently minimising the extent of the recall or investigation.
The grocery chain clearly had in its documentation in order as it was able to specify that the recall involved only the Little Angels Cherry Soother and that no other Little Angels dummies or soothers were affected by the fault.
To effectively trace products, documentation should be available that covers the entire process from the raw material/component suppliers through to the production and distribution mechanisms and then to the end users.
In the absence of comprehensive documentation companies would have to issue blanket recalls or endure lengthy investigations leading to further financial loss.
Fortunately for the aircraft manufacture their share price has remained steady however recent reports have indicated that the lithium-ion battery was not the primary fault and that although the problem has been identified as electrical there is so much cabling on the aircraft that further investigations are set to take a while.
There's a lesson to be learned from these diverse case studies - get your technical documentation in order before something goes wrong.