Traceability and Accountability: A Study on the Galaxy Note 7 Fiasco


There is an increasing need for tech companies and manufacturers to be held fully accountable for the products they dispense to millions of digitally connected consumers worldwide. One way to ensure that is to maintain 100% traceability of all their released products.

Case in point: in August 2016, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was revealed to the world by Samsung Electronics. It was touted as “the smartphone that thinks big”, and received an overwhelmingly positive response all over the globe.

The specs of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 were very impressive at the time. The device featured expandable storage capacity, IP68 water resistance, and inherited most of the hardware featured from the previously released Samsung Galaxy S7. The device brought with it new features such as an iris recognition system as well as being the first smartphone to employ a USB-C port.

Weeks after its release however, the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 was marred by a manufacturing defect that caused Samsung to issue a recall of the units, first in the United States, then a worldwide recall afterward. The hardware defect saw the phone’s battery generate excessive heat, with some users reporting that their devices went up in flames.

After an exhaustive fourth quarter for Samsung, they submitted their findings to the press later that revealed why the Note 7 kept exploding. With the issue finally put to rest, Samsung could finally move on to making safer devices for its patrons and loyal consumers.

One important lesson to take away from that fiasco is how Samsung deduced that the issue with the device lay in the batteries it used. Out of the millions of components that could have contributed to the combustibility of the Note 7, Samsung was able to pinpoint the problem and trace it back to its source. This was because every component of the device was tagged with serial numbers and identifiers.

Hundred of production lines are on the lookout for a laser machines manufacturer that produces a laser marking system that ensures part traceability. With multiple parts sourced from different plants, it’s very important to use a marking method that allow manufacturers to retrace parts from the moment they were created. The story of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 is one example of how traceability is very important in today’s world.

How a product or component is marked plays a vital role in situations such as product recall and fault analysis. Without the right marking procedure, traceability could be deemed impossible. In the case of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, the phone’s issue may not have been traced back to the battery had they simply placed an identifier on it using a crude method such as stickers or plastered the serials with industrial-strength paint. In such a case, the laser marking method was the best way to ensure that the serial numbers would not be easily removed or tampered with.

A laser marking system can prove invaluable in manufacturing products or components, not just with tracking a product, but also with data storage. Lasering barcodes into the component makes it easier to scan, store, and retrieve information about a manufactured item in a short amount of time. Traceability is not just about tagging every item, it is also about ensuring that full accountability and responsibility is taken to ensure product quality and user safety.


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