Time for some consumer-facing quality control software
For all of the software ideas we see each and every year, I’m trying to think of one that serves as an ERP system for manufacturing operations. Think quality control, production tracking and post-production piece monitoring. We’ve seen plant monitoring, and profit optimization, but they usually tie into the financial system, rather than quality control or a validation system for use by a customer.
This is highly relevant this week in light of the following:
RC2, of Illinois, recalls 1.5 million Thomas The Tank Engine pieces due to the use of lead paint in two dozen play pieces. (btw, I’m happy to sign up to a class action lawsuit on this one).
Hershey’s recalls tens of thousands of chocolate bars over salmonella fears and sends them to a landfill last November, only to have an employee of the recycling facility allegedly try to load the product into a rental truck and sell them back to unwitting consumers.
And, just this morning, someone is trying to distribute and sell fake – or illegally imported – Colgate (Tony Soprano in the afterlife?).
Now, not wanting to be alarmist, it seems like a great time for a couple of entrepreneurial programmers to start working on a new quality control software application. Then go to the Provincial Ministry of Health first, before the VCs, and get their warm and fuzzies about the need for their officials to be able to immediately track consumer products once they’ve left a local plant.
While each product we buy seems to come with a special multi-digit code, identifying which plant it came from and when it was made, one doesn’t get the sense that factories know where their products are shipped. Consumers are given a code, but have no way to check the authenticity of the product.
Each manufacurers website’ could have a product validation input screen. Buy some Becel margarine? Why shouldn’t consumers be able to just go to the website and type in the production code to verify that you’ve got the real McCoy?
Under the present system, manufacturers are able to determine information about a product by virtue of the multi-digit stamp, but it’s useless to consumers.
How else can we check if something really was made in South Africa (as with the Colgate tubes), or if our chocolate bar was actually recalled and disposed of, but then liberated from the Turtle Island facility and put into a local variety store?
Time to write some code.