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Samsung still doesn't know what went wrong with the Galaxy Note7

By Cookie Monster - on 16 Oct 2016, 11:10am

Samsung still doesn't know what went wrong with the Galaxy Note7

Note: This article was first published on 13th October 2016.

When Samsung stopped the sales of the Galaxy Note7 last month, the company revealed that an issue with the battery cell caused the overheating and explosions. The second wave of exploding units led to Samsung halting sales again and eventually ending the production of the device. However, it did not share information on the problem(s) affecting the replacement units. The New York Times (NYT) claims to have some insights on the problem.

Based on information provided by an individual briefed on the test process, the publication reports that hundreds of Samsung engineers and employees were unable to reproduce the explosions for the first batch of Galaxy Note7 and the replacement units.  The company thought that switching to a different battery supplier would address the problem, but it backfired. 

The NYT spoke to Park Chul-wan, the former director of the Center for Advanced Batteries at the Korea Electronics Technology Institute, who felt that the problem is more complex than it seems. 

The NYT - “It was too quick to blame the batteries; I think there was nothing wrong with them or that they were not the main problem,” said Mr. Park.

Mr. Park also claimed to have spoken with several Samsung engineers who did not know the cause of the problem with the Galaxy Note7. Given his knowledge on the matter, Mr. Park felt that replication of the problem should have been quick and easy if the issue lies with the chip board and designs.

The Galaxy Note7 crisis might have exposed Samsung's weakness in its product recall and supply chain management. Mark Johnson, an associate professor of Operations Management from Warwick Business School said that Samsung's product recall could be improved.

Dr. Mark Johnson - "In Samsung’s case, the recall was very passive. It was only when the second batch of phones began to fail that they began to show that there were more serious issues at play. Shareholders rightly get twitchy when firms are seen not to care about customers."

Echoing the same sentiments as Mr. Park and a Bloomberg's report, Dr. Mark Johnson shared that Samsung attempted to bring the Galaxy Note7 to market ahead of the iPhone 7 which could have led to the company rushing through several critical testing stages. He also highlights how Samsung had no oversight of its end-to-end supply chain.

Dr. Mark Johnson - "The recall also indicates that Samsung is not as agile as some of its competitors and process-rigidity can mean a loss of flexibility. The process of the recall also indicates that Samsung has very little traceability or integration through the end-to-end supply chain. It was asking customers to identify affected phones in the first round of recalls by examining the colour of the battery signal on the screen.  In the 21st century many companies can trace where items are through linking information processes with distributors and vendors."

Source: The NYT via Engadget

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