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Avoiding total recall

Product recall is an unwanted and costly exercise, underlining the importance of seeking compliance advice from the initial design stage. By Andrew Was.

According to figures from the DTI, the number of consumer product recalls is increasing and most of the items recalled (47%) are electrical goods.

Manufacturers can spend anything up to £1million or more recalling a defective or unsafe product from the marketplace and the costs are rising. Inadequate design is cited as the main cause of defects, leading to nearly 60% of products being taken off the shelves. Customer complaints are the main trigger for 71% of recalls and a single complaint is sufficient for the recall process to be put into motion.

Whilst some of the costs associated with managing a product recall are measurable – the average cost is £39,000 – others are not so easy to put a figure against. There are redesign and retesting costs, loss of sales, and damage to a company's reputation, market share and brand image; add these in and the 'real cost' of the recall spirals upwards.

Yet many recalls could be avoided if compliance issues were considered and addressed at the early stages of the design and development process and monitored and managed after product launch.

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Graham Pitcher

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