Many industries and verticals specify that the software used within those industries be compliant. These stipulations include traceability, regulatory standards, tracking, recall management, lot, serial and batch tracking, expiration dates, etc. Enterprise software vendors have done an excellent job in creating software that not only complies with regulatory standards but usually exceeds them.
Certain industries may have software designed specifically for that vertical. Vendors that have solutions that are industry- and vertical-specific would be a good area to start narrowing the focus for a software solution that provides reverse logistical processes. Sophistication resides throughout the software to unite all aspects of manufacturing, billing, partner management, location tracking, supply chain, transportation and retail store distribution. These software solutions provide a vital piece of the infrastructure required to support any type of reverse logistical process.
Recent recalls span various industries and their products. Consider: lead in paint, defects in certain cars, tainted food. The supply chains these products must go through face intense scrutiny. Whether the software used can track the necessary requirements has become a question that board members discuss when selecting IT.
Todayís software can contend with these standards easily. Often the disconnect within a reverse logistics process is the organizationís ability to coordinate its own systems, infrastructure, partners and supply chain in a cohesive process. Processes are usually disjointed and only address one portion of the recall process and not an end-to-end process.
Take food as an example: As products are sourced, they are sold to wholesalers and chains and distributed to individual outlets. The process to invoke a recall consists of reversing every step and procedure that the product went through to get to the customer; the product then has to be retraced at every level to facilitate a full and effective recall. The gap that organizations face is that their method to recall products through their supply chains down to retail levels are often not complete and not executed properly. Procedures need to be put in place for coordination of partners, suppliers, transportation and systems to work in unison, to successfully track and trace a recall.
Outside of the systems and the physical logistics, communications is a major area that is frequently overlooked. Communication breakdowns usually occur at the supplier and distributor level. To relay the messages to all the proper parties is one aspect, and ensuring that the message is transferred unchanged all the way down to the consumer is of utmost importance. The communication plan plus systems traceability will ensure that organizations are properly prepared to facilitate a recall should one occur.
Organizations must find a way to interpret the data they already own, bridge deficient business processes and follow up with proper execution. They need to devise a strategy that includes communication and coordination of the entire supply chain down to the manufacturing component to facilitate a successful recall procedure. Organizations should not only have these processes in place but must be able to execute on their performance and tracking.
Keywords: reverse logistics, product recall strategies, supply chain risk management, supply chain management, defective products, reverse supply chain