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Preventing Recalls with a Warehouse Execution System

By Contributing Author | 05/29/2018 | 6:00 AM

By Dave Williams, Westfalia Technologies

According to a study by Consumer Reports, the Consumer Product Safety Commission conducted 295 recalls involving approximately 32 million units of goods in 2017 alone. Over the past five years, however, the CPSC has conducted 300 to 400 recalls annually.

How can recalls be avoided?  By connecting a warehouse execution system (WES) to external systems both upstream and downstream in the supply chain. This communication allows companies to respond to problems within the manufacturing process faster, often preventing contaminated or malfunctioning products from ever leaving the facility. 

Finding the Root Cause

By providing a high-degree of product traceability, an integrated WES can help manufacturers discover and act upon issues that have caused the malfunction or contamination sooner. Earlier detection often allows manufacturers to better understand what product is to be recalled, thus possibly reducing the scope of the recall effort and targeting the affected inventory. 

Identifying Recalled Products

By utilizing a WES that is tightly integrated with other supply chain systems, manufacturers are able to more quickly and easily identify products that are part of a recall. Further, companies can utilize the information from the WES to provide their customers with all of the necessary information needed to identify and return the recalled product efficiently, saving both the company and its customers time and money.

Handling Returned Items

A well-managed recall process is a must to process recalled product accurately and efficiently. There are many different recall scenarios that a manufacturer must be prepared to handle. Should the products be discarded? Is special handling required? Do the products need to be quarantined for further inspection? Are there specific reporting requirements that need to be completed? Many of these processes can be automated within a WES to guide individuals through the process, thus ensuring a complete, well-organized, well-documented, efficient handling of the affected product.

Avoiding Future Recalls

A WES that is integrated with manufacturing processes can also be used to recognize issues and provide automatic alerts to the warehouse when products are contaminated to keep the product in-house, thus eliminating the recall process. This allows the manufacturer to more easily identify and locate affected products before they leave the warehouse, which also saves time and money.

It is common sense that contaminated or malfunctioning products are potentially hazardous to the end customer. However, these products can also be extremely detrimental to a company’s financial health. The implementation of a tightly integrated WES into the supply chain process allows manufacturers to quickly identify, track and efficiently recall contaminated or malfunctioning products, which saves time, money and ultimately their reputation.


Dave_Williams_headshot 2017Dave Williams, vice president of software, spearheads Westfalia Technologies’ software and solutions delivery operations. In his role, Williams provides leadership and guidance for the design and implementation of solutions that contribute to strategic business goals while aligning with the overall information systems architecture.

In his tenth year with Westfalia, Williams has extensive experience in software, logistics and management, all which have provided him a comprehensive foundation for this important position.  Prior to Westfalia, he worked in a variety of leadership positions with leading organizations such as Proctor & Gamble, United States Fidelity and Guaranty Company (USF&G), Rite Aid, Nationwide Insurance and Donegal Insurance.

Williams received his bachelor’s degree in Computer Science with a minor in Business Administration from the University of Scranton.



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Welcome to "One-Off Sound-Off," a blog page devoted to guest commentary on all things supply chain. This is a space where industry leaders can share their opinions and expertise with the logistics and supply chain community. If you have an article or commentary you'd like to share, please consider sending a guest blog proposal to feedback@dcvelocity.com.


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