How Samsung Could Have Avoided the Note7 Blast with Quality Control and Facility Inspections

By November 4, 2016Audits and Compliance

Samsung had a sizzling blast in the aftermath of its Note 7 launch, but not exactly the type of blast it wanted. The Note 7 has burned down an SUV, wrecked houses, and threaten to blow up aircrafts. Internet memes portray it as an excellent substitute for hand grenades! As much as 96 devices have exploded or caused a fire in the few weeks, the Note 7 was in use. The US regulator records the phone causing 26 instances of burns and 55 instances of property damage, as on September 15.

Samsung made a recall of 2.5 million devices in early September, but it’s cup of woes ran over when even some of the replacement Note 7 apparently caught fire, forcing the company to halt sales and advise users to shut off their phones. As Samsung awaits results of the probe by U.S. safety regulators, the direct loss for the company is pegged at $17 billion. Far worse is the indirect loss in terms of reputation. The fallout will certainly extend to the brand’s other phones, and even other lines of business, such as the component business. The company is also certain to face lawsuits, claiming compensation for damages.

The fiasco could have many causes. While defective batteries are a possible cause, there is an outside chance of the US investors declaring the product as fundamentally flawed and ban the sale of the product. While many predict a replaceable battery could have saved the day, such speculations ignore the root-cause of the problem – inadequate quality check. Regardless of what causes the problem, an extensive quality check could have unearthed the issue. As Samsung’s case proves, for want of a shoe horse, the kingdom could be lost.

The business case for rushing the product was obvious. Samsung was in a race against time to launch Note 7 before rival LG V20, and iPhone7 hit the market. In any case, quality checks on the devices are reactive, but a facilities inspection could have made a proactive difference, and pre-empted the creation of such a defective product in the first place.

Enforcing strict quality control throughout the supply chain, and at every step of the product development cycle is an effective safeguard against such debacles.

Foolproof facilities inspection is a complex task and requires keeping track of many variables and an extensive checklist. Inspection software is a must to do a good job.

Good Inspection software offers:

  • A powerful scheduling tool to plan inspection, assign specific tasks to inspection teams, manage workloads and keep track of the tasks
  • Ability to define and implement an inspection route within a facility, to improve process efficiency.
  • Ability to define inspection locations, along with appropriate items to be inspected at each location
  • Dashboards with performance view and key metrics such as facility inspection state, corrective actions initiated and closed, and so on.
  • Checklists, defined and associated with the item to be inspected.
  • Ability to capture essential information, such as figures, dates, images, and more during the actual inspection process, and upload the same to the cloud
  • Ability to manage the inspection and ensure high levels of productivity.
  • Elimination of paperwork streamlined process, and app-based delivery of the inspection software

Samsung’s internal post-mortem reveals a flaw in the manufacturing process of the batteries, causing positive and negative electrodes come together. When energy-packed batteries, laden with combustible components separated by ultra-thin walls are subject to stress or overheat, the separators between positive and negative anodes fail, triggering a chemical reaction that spills out of control.  Tests at Applied Energy Hub battery laboratory in Singapore corroborate the same, showing the Note 7 exploding on the application of pressure to its fully charged battery.

Inspection and quality control at the manufacturing facility could have unearthed this issue or any other issue associated with Note7. Samsung could then have gone in for thick separators or other measures to prevent overheating, before releasing the product to the market, sparing itself the disaster. In fact, deployment of enough safety elements would have overcome even small manufacturing mistakes.

Avoid Samsung Note 7 explosion with Inspection App

It still requires carrying out facility inspection and quality checks in a thorough and professional manner. Reach Out is a simple yet powerful and comprehensive platform that allows you to manage inspections and audits. The suite comes with many intuitive features that allow facility managers to ensure high levels of accuracy and quality, and ship out totally error free products. Furthermore, our team of competent and experienced professionals partner with your product development team, and render valuable end-to-end assistance in all inspection and quality control matters, allowing you to focus on your core business.

Don’t let incidents such as the Note 7 fiasco take the wind out of your business. Reach out to us today to strengthen your inspections and testing, manage work orders and jobs, and process customer requests with ease.

 

Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay

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