Question Adrian Business & Management

Risks of the Supply Chain - Smartphones Burning into Flames

With regards to the risks of the supply chain, what might be the causes of the recent cases of newly released Smartphones bursting into flames?

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Answer Expert #27321

A worrying trend of battery overheating and ignition is currently causing concerns surrounding both the safety, and the quality of the latest smartphones, with many being recalled as a result of such (Jinks, 2016). Clearly, the cause of these risks can be traced back to production, where it is assumed that such events should have been tested for extensively prior to product release. Within the production processes, a number of unmitigated risks in the supply chain could be attributable to the safety hazards.

An obvious risk that may be apparent in these supply chains is a process risk, specifically with regards to the manufacturing processes (Christopher, 2011). There is clearly a shortfall in the process of manufacturing given that the occurrence of combustion is not an isolated case in the smartphones produced, and is happening on a wide scale. This indicates the supply chain of producing companies of the smartphones are at risk because of inadequate methods of manufacturing at any stage of production (most likely battery production in this case), which causes a direct threat to the safety of consumers.

A second source of risk that may be accountable for the unsafe devices is the supply risk of poor supplier quality (Christopher, 2011). If parts for the smartphones are sourced from a third party, there is a lack of control over the quality of parts from the supplying company, and hence the standards may be lower than that of the parent company. Similarly, external risk may affect smartphone supply chains in the form of host country policies, which may mean that production quality standards and processes are significantly lower than that of the parent country.

Overall, a number of factors are likely to have contributed to the evident failure in the most recent smart phone models. However, in spite of this, looking to the supply chain risks and mitigation of such may be a good starting point in rectifying these faults.

References

Christopher, M. (2011) Logistics and Supply Chain Management. 4th eds. Harlow, Essex: Pearson Education.

Jinks, B. (2016) ‘Samsung targeted by U.S. Activist Elliot Demanding Separation.’ Bloomberg. [Online] 5th October [Accessed on 6 October 2016] http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-05/samsung-targeted-by-activist-investors-to-restructure-company