Crib Recall – New Product Development meets Supplier Involvement

Recalled_crib_from_cpscWalk into any furniture store in the US and almost all products are
made in China. You order anything and the boxes arrive with
instructions and you do as best as you can. I , for example, have a
desk with a hutch that I could not install very well and just did not
want to spend money on a professional installer and a rattling hutch is not a problem. But what happens if it is a crib
or a rocking chair for the elderly? Serious injury or even death can

The recall of one million, yes one million cribs puts the focus on New Product Development and Early Supplier Involvement and the core of this blog i.e. Business to Business Relationships. According to the Chicago Tribune , 3 deaths , 7 entrapments and 55 incidents are reported where tiny infants are involved.

Apparently, the cause of the problem, is that customers might install the drop side of the crib upside down. This is because the design fault allows such an installation.
Once wrongly installed, the hardware can weaken and can allow the drop side to detach. The gap so created in the crib could entrap the infant.

Was adequate product "in-use" testing done before launch of this product? Obviously not – because design flaws would come up straight away if even simple consumer product  tests were conducted before large scale market launch. For example, if you tried a testing with a large demographic of good and bad handyman Dads with infants almost certainly the wrong way installation of the drop side of the crib would have come up. Then obviously the designers could have eliminated the wrong side installation possibility. Such research would have cost a paltry amount and would save infant lives not to speak of the the organizations involved including Simplicity and its Chinese suppliers.

And if you ask the supplier, they’ll tell you that they work off the drawing and the drawing is part of the contract. And off course the supplier has absolutely no idea,interest or concern about the product’s actual in-home use  in classic B-to-B style. Also partly because the marketing company keeps the suppliers completely guessing about what’s happening in the consumer market. Nothing wrong with that because the crib company has probably many suppliers and would not like to discuss too many market issues lest the suppliers become competitors at the consumer end.

But then could the crib maker have ordered a 100 samples for a consumer "in-home" product test – with no reference to the actual market?  The Chinese suppliers would have supplied them free!  But it was probably from the drawing board to the overseas manufacturer and then direct to consumer. Pretty neat and virtual as a new product process , with very messy and real consequences. 

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