Behind the scenes of the Refurbished StoreWater
This week, we sat down with Philipp, our Senior Supply Chain and Logistics manager, and Chenming, our Senior Mechanical Engineer, to tell us more about how our Refurbished project started and what it is all about.
Where did the idea of selling refurbished devices come from, Philipp?
As a company, we wanted to find a way to extend the lifespan of our Mitte Home device, become more sustainable, and reduce costs at the same time. The amount of waste from electronic devices nowadays is very worrying. Our goal was to reuse and refurbish our returned devices, so they would not go to waste. Of course, this wasn’t an easy task at hand. At first, we were not sure if it was possible to carry it out and what exactly it would entail. After a lot of work, we have found a way to reuse more than 90 percent of the device parts!
Chenming, you have been involved since the project was just an idea. Can you talk us through the steps taken to determine if it was feasible and your current role?
First, since our product comes into contact with water, we had to find out how the device could be reused. Alongside the Water Science team, we did investigations to see what needed to be replaced for the devices to be functional. We concluded that all pieces that had previously been in contact with water needed to be replaced. Then, I worked to calculate how long it would take to disassemble devices, replace certain pieces and put everything back together. After a long process of investigating, we concluded that it could be done feasibly and cost-effectively.
After this, I worked on writing clear step-by-step instructions for the temporary workers involved in the actual refurbishment process from dismantling till the refurbished device was tested. Now, as the refurbishment station is ongoing, I am the primary communicator on what they need to do until all processes are set. I also check that we are working in good timing, where bottlenecks are, and helping to speed up all processes.
And on your side, Philipp, what is your responsibility since the actual kick-off of the project?
I started working on the project last October. The Operations team and I visited our logistics company and saw that we had around 1500 used devices stored there that could be refurbished. Along with my colleague Lan, we planned the operations behind it all. Meaning, setting up the warehouse and entire supply chain, hiring and training the workers, and of course, the logistics part for the customer.
Why is this project important for Mitte?
It is an important step to have a circular model of production, reuse our devices and certain parts, and give a second life to devices that are practically brand new. It is the first step for Mitte to discover what in-house logistics would look like and what it takes to set up in-house manufacturing.
So, take us through what the full refurbishment process looks like.
- The devices are inspected to check that they can be refurbished and there is no major issue that cannot be fixed.
- The device is taken apart to be able to replace the specific components that have come into contact with water; some tubes and a small part of the pump.
- The device goes on to be manually tested. This entails a full inspection with functional testing done by a service technician.
- The refurbished device is thoroughly cleaned, reset to factory default, and updated with the latest firmware.
- Finally, the device is re-packaged alongside a new PET bottle and cartridge in a recycled box, ready to be shipped to its new owner!
What did you enjoy about working together on this project?
A highlight was working all together cross-functionally to find the right answers and bringing every team’s area of expertise together to bring the project to life. Also, it was a first step towards future potential business models that are exciting advancements for Mitte.
Chenming, maybe you can share what have been some challenges and learnings?
A big challenge was that things took longer than expected! You have to check every little detail is done properly and according to the correct standards to ensure absolute quality. No matter how much you calculate and prepare in advance, there are always little things coming up. For example the label printing, we had to print up to 5 different labels before getting the final version for the refurbished devices.
So, how did the launch day go, Philipp?
Well, we had a bit of a close one to meet the project launch date. We aligned in advance with the Marketing team on a specific launch date for the refurbished store to go live. Coming up to the launch date, we weren’t sure our end-of-line test was fully ready and working. Luckily, and thanks to the team working extra hard, on the same day of the launch we were certain that the end-of-line test was ready and working properly to test all refurbished devices before they were shipped out to the new customers. It was quite intense, but we had a plan B, which involved driving 9h across Germany, so luckily we didn’t have to do that.
“Our goal was to reuse and refurbish our returned devices, so they would not go to waste. Of course, this wasn’t an easy task at hand. At first, we were not sure if it was possible to carry it out and what exactly it would entail. After a lot of work, we have found a way to reuse more than 90 percent of the device parts!”
Philipp Fuhs – Senior Supply Chain & Logistics Manager
So können wir den Wasserwandel unterstützen
Zur diesjährigen Europäischen Nachhaltigkeitswoche wollen wir die Frage in den Fokus rücken, wie wir den Konsum von Trinkwasser noch nachhaltiger gestalten können. Seit der Entwicklung unseres Wasseraufbereiters dreht sich bei Mitte nämlich alles um zukunftsorientierte Lösungen in diesem Bereich. Weißt du eigentlich, wie nachhaltig dein Trinkverhalten ist? Hier findest du ein paar interessante Fakten –