Drive Safe

March 21, 2022

Drive Safe

Protect Quality & Proactively Manage Recalls in the Automotive Industry

By Garth Zambory

Today’s consumers are more informed than ever and want to know the history of the products they are buying. From where the product originated from to which manufacturer made individual components, consumers want organizations to be transparent about their product’s authenticity, safety, and reliability. And using traceability solutions that have the ability to create a unique ID for every component, product, and batch, can provide critical genealogy data to ensure a verifiable and efficient supply chain.

This helps organizations make sure all approved sources of raw materials, intermediates, and finished products, as well as their paths, are able to be fully tracked and provide the traceability needed to protect the product quality. And better traceability means a lot of money and time saved preventing recalls—which can happen frequently. For instance, tens of millions of vehicles in the U.S. are recalled every year—more than 31 million from 786 recalls in 2020 alone.

The automotive industry has, by nature, high complexity and specificity towards its products and supply chain. Today, the distinct need for traceability in the automotive industry to track and trace parts and subassemblies has increased vehicle manufacturers’ focus on traceability. Let’s discuss how traceability solutions like Ashton Potter’s ProLinc® can protect quality and proactively manage recalls in the automotive industry.

More than 31 million vehicles

in the U.S. were recalled in 2020.

Traceability for the Automotive Industry

The automotive industry sets some of the highest quality standards in manufacturing, driven by a need to ensure safety and a desire to control costs. Increasingly, car makers are asking their suppliers to provide full traceability of parts as they move through the supply chain. Utilizing ID technologies like barcodes and RFID allows sensors to track critical variables that help pinpoint whether a variance occurred throughout the network. Especially in the automotive industry where production processes are divided among multiple stakeholders, the linking of ID systems is of major importance.

All of this data can be accumulated and combined into individualized, serialized identities and matched to the part. These IDs then decode the data throughout the part’s lifecycle and reliably transfer the information into a software system like Ashton Potter’s ProLinc® ensuring full traceability for each part of a finished vehicle.

This integration increases dependency and raises the importance of disturbance management, minimizing effects by proactively reacting to any issues in upstream processes. By applying individualized, serialized identities to every component, product, and batch, automotive manufacturers can isolate compromised batches and resolve issues—both in real time and retroactively.

Protect Quality of Product

Process and logistics control is an essential application of traceability in the automotive industry with traceability becoming a foundational element of quality protection. For safety-relevant components such as brakes, airbags, and steering columns, traceability plays a particular role in quality control.

Product piracy primarily affects the automotive aftermarket and the used-car market, as defective compounds are exchanged, and counterfeit compounds may be installed. This damage can be restricted with appropriate identification technologies and traceability. Better protection against counterfeits will improve customer safety as these products are often of lower quality. To prevent “B grade” parts from making their way to the road, automotive manufacturers must be able to prove that each vehicle and subcomponent upholds all relevant standards for safety and integrity.

The automotive industry heavily utilizes the just-in-time principle and logistically integrates its suppliers to minimize issues that could cause harm to the product or the consumer. They need technology that tracks the full chain of custody for every item, providing visibility into raw materials and product parts in real time.

When it comes to automotive manufacturing, a single faulty component can be the difference between life and death. Integral to driver safety is the manufacturer’s ability to track and verify the integrity of all components at every stage in the supply chain. Integrating Blockchain-enabled databases like ProLinc® helps to satisfy requirements for ongoing monitoring and testing while putting consumer safety first by confidently validating the integrity of every product and subcomponent they use.

Proactively Manage Recalls

Product recalls affect almost every industry, from food and pharmaceuticals to furniture and automotive. In fact, over the last 20 months alone, the FDA has reported and tracked nearly 1,000 product recalls across sectors. Complete part traceability is essential to protect your company against liability in the event of a recall. Automotive recalls come at a high cost for both a manufacturer’s reputation and bottom line. By allowing manufacturers to identify compromises in real time, the risk of liability and substandard parts making their way onto the road significantly decreases.

In the event of a recall, time is of the essence in determining the source of an outbreak. If a batch of components proves to be faulty, it should be traceable back to its original manufacturer, and forwarded to the cars that may ultimately require repair or recall.

In the past, Toyota had to recall 2.9 million vehicles due to defective airbags and Audi had to recall over 1 million cars on safety grounds. Today, global enterprises know that when it comes to product issues, especially recalls, they need to:

  • Act immediately and open up communication channels
  • Rapidly identify the scope of the problem
  • Precisely locate specific product lots and impacted locations and alert consumers
  • Initiate the recall and execute recall logistics
  • Identify the source of the problem and fix it
  • Work to repair and instill confidence in their marketplace and consumers

By enabling automotive manufacturers to identify and isolate compromises in real time and rapidly extract only the affected product in a recall at the precise locations in the supply chain, companies can minimize the impact on consumers, preserve their reputations, and reduce costs. In the event of a recall, highly detailed records can be instantly accessed for rapid product recall management with solutions like Ashton Potter’s ProLinc®.

Utilize a Traceability Solution for your Automotive Supply Chain

Automotive companies need to employ a portfolio of reliable and flexible IT tools. This type of technology provides visibility across materials in real time from their source, across trading partners and to the end consumer. Most importantly, by enabling everyone in the supply chain to share relevant information in real time, organizations can avoid the devastating effects that product recalls can have on customers, brands, and shareholders.

Ultimately, faulty vehicles can have deadly consequences.  Ashton Potter’s ProLinc® helps organizations to fully track and trace components, products, and batches throughout the supply chain in real-time while housing insights in a tamper-proof, blockchain-enabled database. We empower manufacturers to protect their customers by confidently validating the integrity of every product and component they use.

Speak with an expert today to learn more about how ProLinc® can help auto manufactures ensure efficiency, quality, and safety.