Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Mattel's and Dell's approach to supplier problems
After reading about Dell’s problems caused due to faulty chips on its computers, I looked for other major supply chain disasters and found this article online. I further read about Mattel’s 2007 large scale recall of its toys in this New York Times article. Some of the toys recalled had lead paint on them and a large number had used magnets which could harm the kids.
The comparison to be noted between Mattel and Dell is about the quality of components used in their products, and how they realized it after a large number of products had been shipped to users. Over 215,000 toys were recalled because of lead paint, while over 9 million were recalled because of the magnets – in the United States alone.
I also looked for what steps did Mattel take after the recall, to control the damage, and avoid similar issues in the future. I found some interesting points in this study about how it fixed the problem with the toys with lead-based paint. It first started with a public announcement, and a video apology by the CEO Robert Eckert. They also set up strict procedures for inspections of their suppliers in China, and also promised to increase the frequency of the existing inspections – “by testing every batch delivered to the suppliers”. It even supported its direct supplier by referring to them as a victim of the supplier’s subcontractors. This would have obviously Mattel’s relationship with the supplier, which would have been glad to submit to new procedures and stricter inspections in future.
Compared to Dell’s hide and ignore policy regarding the faulty OptiPlex computers, Mattel comes out ahead in terms of corporate image and consumer trust.