A product deemed likely to catch fire is almost certain to spark the interest of the media and the public. Issues with lithium-ion batteries are no exception. In addition to the attention, the logistics behind these recalls are highly complex. While preparedness is always a good idea, it is especially true for products containing these batteries. Without a robust recall plan in place, by the time consumer complaints come in to call centers and begin to broadcast on social media, you’re already behind the ball.
With any recall plan, it is important to consider each step of the recall life cycle, including notification, response management, product processing, and remedy distribution. But there are special considerations for recalls involving lithium-ion batteries. As explained in our recent white paper, there are many regulatory agencies involved – regardless of whether the recall is limited to one country or global in scale.
One of the biggest challenges with such recalls involves transportation. The rules are shifting, and on top of that, many carriers may have their own guidelines and may offer certain services only to specific countries and regions. In addition, highly specialized boxes, packing tape, and labels are required. And a massive staffing ramp up may be needed to assemble the boxes and manage the influx of calls.
All of these steps must be achieved at lightning speed to meet the expectations of both regulators and the public. That means outside suppliers and partners should be identified and secured in advance so they are ready to spring in to action right alongside your internal staff. That includes companies that will supply the necessary materials specific to a lithium-ion battery recall and those who will help fill gaps in contact center staffing, product processing, and data collection for regulatory reporting.
Even medical device and consumer product companies that have a detailed plan in place should update those plans if they manufacture products with these batteries. And if it has been awhile since a mock recall was held, it is a good time to go through that process again with this specific issue in mind.
Companies that make products with lithium-ion batteries but have only an outline of a plan – or no plan at all – should make developing one a top priority. When it comes to preparing for a negative event, it is easy to delay the discussion. As with any contingency plan, the hope is that it will never be necessary. But a recall can strike suddenly and without warning. Being prepared will help improve the odds of getting through the situation without serious financial, legal, and reputational damage.
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