News: Wax RDC completes feasibility study on business models and product design for remanufacture
In 2007, the CRR approved funding for five feasibility projects, one of which investigated commercial remanufacturing business models and product design for a mobile broadband handset, Meos. This project has now been completed.
Thursday, 1st May 2008
The full report can be downloaded from this page. The project team was led by Wax RDC, who worked alongside project partners Exoteq, manufacturers of the Meos handset, and the Centre for Sustainable Design, based in Farnham. Prior to the feasibility study Wax RDC Director Damien Jones worked with Exoteq designing and developing the first generation of Meos. Meanwhile Casper Gray, Co-Director of Wax RDC, worked closely with the Centre for Sustainable Design investigating Design for Remanufacture, resulting in a number of presentations worldwide and a report "Remanufacturing and Product Design: Designing for the 7th Generation." Founded in 2005, Exoteq is an international group with extensive experience in high-tech communication, entertainment and consumer electronic products and learnt about the concept of remanufacture through collaboration with Wax RDC. Exoteq's CEO Ilkka Martikainen, enthusiastic at the chance to innovate, says "the chance to use remanufacture to comply with legislation while at the same time generating tangible revenue streams was an opportunity too good to miss". The Centre for Sustainable Design, led by Martin Charter - a leading figure in the world of sustainable design - supported Wax RDC on the strategic aspects of the project to develop business models and review environmental assessments of the handset to ensure that the best environmental option was applied. The product itself, Meos, is a world first. The compact, pocket-sized handset provides users with high speed internet access on the move. Meos offers truly mobile broadband and features a large LCD screen, a simple intuitive interface and a unique patent-pending touchpad. The first phase of the project comprised of a scoping study. Investigating remanufacturing practices across various industrial sectors, it was established that remanufacturing is rare in consumer electronics. The study also identified the key considerations for both the business model and the detailed design of Meos. In the second phase of the project, the team engaged in detailed evaluation of business models to enable remanufacturing and optimise the multiple revenue streams whilst taking into consideration the commercial realities of a start-up business. The combination of knowledge gleaned from research and the use of a unique business model simulation tool, designed by Wax RDC, led to the generation of a number of viable business models. In one of these, customers would be empowered to take control of the remanufacturing system. Users would test and repair the handsets in their own homes, with support, advice and new parts supplied by Exoteq as required. In reality, Meos would need to be designed for a variety of end-of-life strategies including remanufacturing, reconditioning, recycling or re-use in order to achieve realistic environmental and economic outcomes. Focusing on the product design stage, there are a number of key Design for Remanufacture strategies that can be applied to the product. These include: � Design for Disassembly During remanufacture the handset must be fully disassembled before many other essential processes can begin. It is therefore crucial that the handset can be disassembled quickly, reliably and cost effectively. Active Disassembly, essentially a process in which the product disassembles itself under a specified stimulus, was investigated.
� Design for Durability Meos will go through many lives and as a result needs to be durable. Wax exploited various Design for Durability techniques to anticipate all the handsets' future 'lives' and the conditions that may be encountered. These included the use of tougher materials, offering components better protection from the elements, and allowing more cushioning for sensitive components. � Design for Upgradeability Meos will enter a sector subject to fast technological change; therefore forward planning to upgrade product performance (software, advanced features, energy consumption, etc) was taken into account at the design stage. Potentially, this could be achieved by designing an 'expandable' main circuit board for Meos; this PCB would have all the necessary ports for connections to future technology additions such as a camera, Bluetooth and touch screen. Modular design could also complement this flexible electronics architecture. In order to reduce the complexity of the design challenge, Wax RDC developed a technique to support concept selection in a variety of fields, by evaluating relative and weighted economic, environmental and social benefits. This emphasised simplicity and accessibility for both designers and non-designers alike, enabling easy integration of Design for Remanufacture strategies in product design and development. Talking about the project Casper Gray comments, "The project has resulted in a number of feasible, innovative remanufacturing concepts that Exoteq are interested in pursuing. Not only did it make Exoteq aware of the compelling business case for remanufacture but also gave Wax RDC an ideal opportunity to implement feasible environmental solutions for a mainstream electronics manufacturer." Casper continues "Without the financial support of the CRR, it would not have been feasible for Exoteq to consider the possibility of remanufacture. Through this funding, the work done by Wax RDC has given Exoteq a comprehensive knowledge of remanufacture as well as broader environmental business strategies. These are likely to result in significantly reduced environmental impacts from Exoteq's activities along with substantially increased profits." For Exoteq, remanufacture definitely makes sense; the drivers are certainly compelling. In the short term, funding for the lease model that will support remanufacture, is being sought. In the long-term, the knowledge generated by this project will influence Exoteq's ongoing design work, in collaboration with Wax RDC. Casper Gray will be presenting a workshop on Whole System Design for Remanufacture alongside Fiona Kelday and Dr Andrew King from the CRR at IDEA 2008 which is being held at the Woodland Grange Hotel, Leamington Spa on Wednesday 14th May 2008. For more information visit the website linked to this page.
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