Ideas Point of view

Car manufacturers and recall campaigns: where does the problem lie?

Periodically, one or another car manufacturer is involved in a recall campaign for problems of varying magnitude. And so I found myself reflecting on this matter:

analysing an evolved quality system such as that of the automotive industry, you could almost think that – if fully respected – “zero waste” should be an achievable goal. Yet, as we said, recall campaigns are quite frequent. Why does this happen?

I’ll take a step back to contextualise my argument.
As you know, the automotive sector is subject to specific regulations of reference concerning quality. These are the so-called ISO/TS 16949, which are extremely strict standards for each of the stages of a product, with the aim of achieving a near absolute quality with a tolerance of error that is ever closer to zero. This fact has resulted in the birth of a generation of companies that are completely (or almost) dedicated to the automotive industry.

If that is the case, then we should imagine that the automotive sector has put in place a perfect system where it is almost impossible to make mistakes. Instead this is not the case.

Why then – I ask myself over and over – do recall campaigns continue to happen? Probably because that are some flaws in the system.

But where are these flaws? In my opinion they are NOT at the design phase, also because we are talking about a step in which the FMEA (analysis of the modes and effects of faults) is carried out, in fact with the aim of listing all the possible types of fault, and – for each of them – also all the possible causes, effects and controls in place. If, therefore, this analysis is carried out correctly and completely, it is difficult for the error to actually occur at the design stage. You could even hypothesise that the FMEA is incomplete but I believe that in the automotive field this is highly unlikely.

That’s why I’m more inclined to think that the flaw is at the production phase. That is, despite the fact that the ISO/TS 16949 imposes a strict control of the production process, in reality then – for some reason – this does not happen. Perhaps then the problem is not in the component but in the assembly.

The other question I have is:

Is it therefore easier for the third party or the car manufacturer to make a mistake?

That depends. It should however be considered that if the subcontractor makes a mistake, they pay, also risking, in cases where the extent of the damage is greater than the value of the company itself, going bankrupt, as was the case, for example, with the Japanese manufacturer of Takata airbags.
That is why, putting myself in the shoes of a third party, as MICROingranaggi could be, the control phases can in no way be underestimated.

I would however like to know your point of view…

By Stefano Garavaglia

È il CEO di MICROingranaggi, nonché l'anima dell'azienda.
Per Stefano un imprenditore deve avere le tre C: Cuore, Cervello, Costanza.
Cuore inteso come passione per quello che fa, istinto e rispetto per il prossimo. Cervello inteso come visione, come capacità a non farsi influenzare da situazioni negative. Costanza perché un imprenditore non deve mai mollare.

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