PLM is no longer the life line only for new product introductions. CIOs need to ensure that the system is capable of handling product recalls efficiently for meeting quality standards with no cost overshoots. Case in point is the recent automobile recalls witnessed in the Indian market. Members of the Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM) have proactively implemented a “Voluntary Code on Vehicle Recall” policy effective July 1st 2012 to ensure safety and customer satisfaction. With a spate of recent recalls like the 114,000 recall of Chevrolet Tavera SUV due to faulty reporting of engine-emission test results, the government is planning to introduce a mandatory vehicle recall policy.
Other OEMs too made recalls in the past year totaling more than 300,000 recalls because of failure to meet manufacturing quality requirements. With quality consciousness among OEMs, suppliers, government, customers and regulatory bodies going up, how can PLM help in ensuring that expectations are met?
- Traceability for impact analysis on installed base - PLM should be able to give a bird's eye view on the impact - given a faulty part or assembly, a quick where-used analysis on batches of vehicles with the part details, their serial numbers, customers for those vehicles, shipment dates etc to understand what volumes, part families, market segments and geographies were effected, to plan an effective recall and fix to the problem. Siemens's Tecnomatix, built on top of their Teamcenter PLM platform, provides digital manufacturing solutions by linking manufacturing disciplines with product engineering for traceability and alerts on any process deviations.
- Collaboration across functions, suppliers - Once the faulty part if confirmed, a root cause analysis and more importantly a fix to the problem needs to be arrived at, in consultation with concerned functions and suppliers for bought-out parts. To ensure a quick turn around, a collaborative setup can go a long way in quickly getting all teams on a discussion table - secure file and information sharing, video collaboration, field and shop visits.
- Visibility across the Supply Chain -To ensure smooth supply of parts, a quick report of stock-on hand of the concerned parts would be required from the ERP system. Based on the severity of the recall, decisions such as deciding their end-of-life, whether to scrap them or do a rework, alternate parts and ensuring ongoing supply of the revised parts would need to be taken in the PLM ecosystem to avoid any supply chain disruptions.
- Updates to repair manuals - Networks of repair shops across the country need to be informed about changes to parts and repair procedures. Having PLM as the one source of truth can ensure that changes to part information percolate all the way down the value chain to the repair shops. Products in Dassault Systemes' suite of solutions like 3DVIA Composure can ensure that design changes to products are seamlessly integrated into technical documentation.
- Documentation of root-cause, corrective action, preventive action - Valuable lessons can be learnt from such recalls and the system should ensure procure capture of the information for future consumption - are Reliability/Warranty models kept updated, are there proactive alerts in place to avoid a repeat of such errors in future?
- Decision making for the CFO - A CFO would want to understand the enormity of the situation with a what-if analysis and be better prepared - what is the immediate impact on the bottom line due to the logistics and part replacements, what is the medium to long term impact on warranty costs, is the situation under control and what should be the message sent out? If the above systems are well in place, the senior management can be given comfort that the situation is truly under control.
PLM solutions available in the market today have the capability to handle product recalls efficiently, provided the design and implementation and its integrations with other enterprise information sources are done with due diligence, a long term perspective and keeping the entire value chain in mind.
- Asia/Pacific Manufacturing 2013 Top 10 Predictions (IDC Manufacturing Insights , November 2012)
- Business Strategy: Business Drivers and Process Improvement Imperatives in the Asia/Pacific (Excluding Japan) Product Life-Cycle Management Market, 2011-2012 (IDC Manufacturing Insights , March 2012)
Sources: SIAM's press release: http://www.siamindia.com/Media/Release/SiamViewMediaRelease.aspx?id=316