Reuse of Components and Products: “Qualified as Good as New”
Apart from benefits for environmental protection, reuse of components and products offers attractive economic advantages, provided that components are “qualified as good as new,” which (in this chapter abbreviated as “quagan”) entails a new concept first introduced in the international standard IEC 62 309. This standard has been initiated by the authors of this chapter, who have worked out the quagan concept to overcome prejudices against and to promote reuse of components and products.
Manufacturers can make a profit by taking back used products and making them “quagan” (a process we call “quaganized”), using the same test procedures as they have for the new ones and, at the same time, fulfill legislative requirements concerning environmental protection.
Consumers get updated products for a lower price with the warranty granted for new products.
Government achieves higher recycling rates.
To convince quagan consumers of getting a technically up-to-date product, the quality procedures, including the ones to fulfill the safety requirements, and their documentation must be visible. The purpose of this chapter is to provide guidelines in accomplishing this.
As a first step, quality requirements for “qualification as new” are discussed. This is not trivial because of the necessity to extend the common perception of “new products” to those products containing “as good as new” components. It is likely that this will also lead to changes in the state of the art of legal understanding of the notion “new” because it usually implies using only new components in new products. However, the fact might help here that some products, for example those in the electrical and electronic (E&E) industries, have long contained not-new components that have been already artificially pre-aged due to accelerated testing to avoid early failures.
As a next step, this contribution explains how a manufacturer has to plan for several product generations in advance because, the products sold – if required by law or voluntarily – will return to the plant at some point after the end of their lifespan. Many processes have to be installed and planned in advance; for example, a tight connection to customers, value analysis of attractive, high-value components, their cleaning, restoration, and qualification. Last but not least, these processes have to be documented to inform all parties involved.
This chapter explains also how “design for recycling” can work and what should not be reused. Recommended for recycling are the simple and easily testable, modular components. Up to 25% of a product can be reused, but often only a single component makes up the core of recycling because of its monetary value. However, the value chain should also include spare parts that can be extracted, and materials to be selected for high-quality recycling.
Finally, the state of the software of more complex product systems and their upgrading process is also important. Therefore, refurbishment rules that necessitate hardware and software upgrading should best avoid environmentally contra-productive instructions, for example, the unnecessary charging of batteries or energy consuming load/store instructions in programs. A corresponding standard to the IEC 62309 for software reuse is in the planning.
To sum up, the reader of this chapter will learn that a good concept such as refurbishment is not enough to achieve sustainability. Sustainability includes the trust of all participants in the process and assistance with potential legal problems, thus bringing advantages to all participants.
KeywordsSpare Part Environmental Management System Reusable Component Legal Situation Remanufactured Product
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