When product recall is required, a 3PL with robust warehouse management systems are able to extract the data that is needed.  However, garbage in – garbage out.  If you haven’t set up a customer correctly during the onboarding process, then extracting information later for a recall may not provide the data that is necessary to find the specific product in question.  If the product retains lot codes or serial numbers, this information must be available and trackable at all stages of the supply chain.  The capturing of this information when it arrives at the distribution center ensures the chain of responsibility for this information with the 3PL.

Recall processes must be detailed, documented and rehearsed.  When the show goes live, you want everyone comfortable with their part in the process with no adlibbing.  There should be little disruption to your supply chain and the reverse process of returned product needs to be seamless.  Product recall is the perfect example to a Shipper how efficient your 3PL performs.

So how can you ensure your 3PL can handle a recall properly?

  • Is expired product or product with quality issues flagged and segregated from your good inventory?  This should be visible on the floor but backed up systematically.
  • Does your 3PL have the technology to quickly extract data and process the impact of a recall? 
  • Does your 3PL have detailed, documented processes and workflows for recall?  This should start at the notification of the recall all the way to the return or destruction of products.
  • Does your 3PL have the space to handle returned merchandise on a shortterm basis, quarantined from other products?
  • Is there a resolution area where product can be inspected, repackaged, relabeled or destroyed?
  • Does the 3PL team have a sense of urgency understanding that seriousness of the situation?

But the real value comes with information.  3PL’s must have systems that ensure a steady and stable process during a recall.  The team must be aware and fully capable of executing on this process giving the Shipper a sense of peace knowing that it is under control. 

A high level of communication must occur during this process.  The 3PL tracking and recordkeeping should be shared and communicated constantly as to the process of tracking products, as to products returned and the resolution process.  The VALUE a 3PL can bring is performing the recall services like a well-oiled machine.

Pacific Coast Warehouse has performed services for the Food, Beverage and CPG industries for over 90 years.  We are that well-oiled machine.

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