In 2007, the CRR funded five cutting-edge feasibility projects. One of these investigated commercial remanufacturing business models and product design for a mobile broadband handset (MEOS), led by forward-thinking product design consultancy Wax RDC.
Working alongside Wax RDC were project partners Exoteq, manufacturers of the Meos handset, and the world renowned Centre for Sustainable Design, based in Farnham.
Prior to work on 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. Exoteq’s CEO, Ilkka Martikainen, jumped at the chance to innovate, saying that “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.
Meos itself 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. Key considerations for both the business model and the detailed design of Meos were also made at this point.
In the second phase, the team engaged in a detailed evaluation of business models that would enable remanufacturing, optimise the multiple revenue streams and take 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 be able to 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 strategies that can be applied to the product, including;
- Design for Disassembly;
- Design for Durability; and
- Design for Upgradeability.
n 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 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.”
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 with assistance from the CRR. In the long-term, the knowledge generated by this project will influence Exoteq’s ongoing design work, in collaboration with Wax RDC.
The final report for this project can be downloaded on this page. If you would like further information on this project please contact firstname.lastname@example.org