The regulatory and litigation environments in the United States require that potential safety issues and problems with mass-produced products be investigated rigorously. Assessment of the root cause of warranty claims and potential problems related to a particular product will help quantify the risk associated with that product, and the affected population, allowing the manufacturer to make informed decisions on continuing production, potential design changes, and any corrective action. Exponent’s multidisciplinary teams can address every aspect of product design, manufacturing, and use issues to develop information that equips the client to make appropriate business decisions.
We draw upon over 40 years of failure analysis and safety evaluation experience to provide a unique perspective on qualifying new products for market. We provide testing services to address a wide variety of common failure modes that are known to have triggered recalls, as well as critical analysis of proposed products from a safety perspective. Exponent’s database of more than 300 million accident and incident records enables us to quantify the performance of a particular product line. Our Human Factors consultants evaluate warning labels and instructions to ensure appropriate communication with the buyer and user of the product. We review manufacturing procedures to assess potential process risks. In fact, with more and more products being manufactured offshore, quality process is a significant concern among U.S. suppliers and manufacturers. Exponent’s China office addresses specific quality and design issues for U.S. and international clients with manufacturing facilities in Asia and the Pacific Rim. Part of our overseas work involves performing audits of manufacturers on behalf of our clients.
Our consultants work with clients to respond to regulatory agency investigations and have presented findings in front of the major U.S. regulatory bodies, including the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Our approach is focused on the robustness of the product related to particular safety concerns, so that if and when a failure occurs, it will occur safely.
Examples of Product Qualification and Recall Work
- Product failure investigations
- Incident scene investigations
- Statistical analysis of warranty data
- Design quality auditing
- Manufacturing quality auditing
- Safety qualification testing
- Regulatory support
- Qualification planning (testing at the manufacturer)
- Warnings, labeling, and instruction assessment
Selected Exponent Product Experience
- Kitchen appliances
- Coffee makers
- Building control systems
- Heaters and air conditioners
- Portable electronic devices
- Battery systems
- Electric blankets
- Medical devices
- Automotive and truck components
- Toys and children’s products