For this design project I want to detail the Access model using a vending machine.
The system makes profit by charging the batteries. The vending machine charges the bicycle lamps by induction. When the bicycle lamps are charged, the quality needs to be checked. This could be done by the bicycle repair men but the user could also check this. Since this bicycle lamp is a relatively big investment for the user, it is important to have a trustworthy relationship. Only when the user only receives high quality bicycle lamps, this will be worth it. In this system I choose to for a more complex vending machine to enable this instead of having the user to this.
The vending machine needs to enable the flow: When products come into the system they need to be as soon as possible be charged, checked on quality and whether that the lamp passes the quality check or not, go directly back to the user or go to a repair/recycle facility and then back to the user. How successful the vending machine creates this flow the more profit will be generated. To enable this flow, it is important to have enough stock within the machine. This is increase by making the bicycle lamps modular: they can both be used as a red or a white lamp.
The product needs to be durable (have a long total life span): the end of life of 1 bicycle lamp should be for the user whenever the battery needs to be charged. All the parts that are vulnerable should be protected within the product against the user and the environment. That is why the product will be waterproof – integrated O-ring between the two parts of the housing. The battery will be charged through induction to avoid a vulnerable point of connection and a permanent magnet will be used to attach the product to the bicycle instead of an elastic band. In order to protect the product, it should also be challenging for the user to open the product. In that way the user cannot break anything internally and the parts (such as the battery or copper) cannot be harvested. In contradiction to that: the repair centre needs an easy disassembly. Using an industrial snap joint within the housing that consists of 2 parts, the product is easy separable with the right tool that can pop open several snap joint within the housing at one time. When the product is opened, the product needs to be easily repair and maintained. This is done by the stacked parts that are easy separable since no permanent connections need to be broken.
Based on the six Circular Design Strategies, there are two sides that the concept can go to. One side is about product life extension by repairing from the consumer. When the product is easy accessible by the user, and all the different parts are stacked together (no permanent connections), every part that reached the End-of-Life can be directly replaced. A major challenge to be encountered within this direction is product attachment. Since the product has such a low value to the user, in which case will the user be motivated enough to take action by repairing and maintaining. This product will be a durable product (since the user phase will be extended) and would therefore fit within the Classic Long-Life model. But how circular is the Classic Long-Life model exactly? Isn’t this a high segment, high quality linear product?
The other side to go to is about accepting this fast moving consumable as it is and design a product for it. This design needs to embrace the short life span of the product, but needs to increase the lifespan of the separate parts. This can only be done by having multiple users during the lifespan of a part. The product needs to flow between the company and different users and in between these locations maintenance and repair is needed. Besides designing a product to enable this, a service is needed to create the ultimate value for both the company and the user.
From my point of view, within this specific case, these two design strategies go hand in hand. It is hard to give this a good place within the bicycle lamp design since this is a fast moving consumable (at the moment). For upgrading, adapting, disassembling and reassembling, the user needs a form of attachment to the product that motivates him or her to take action. This won’t be the case for something as disposable as a bicycle lamp, at least not at the user side. When a fast moving consumable moves back to the company, the value needs to be restored.
Every form of effort that is needed to dis-and reassemble the product, will be expensive. Especially since this bicycle lamp is a low-segment product that needs to be cheap for the consumer. On the other hand, if the product is too easy to disassemble the user is exposed the fragile parts (LED, PCD, battery and connections to create a closed circuit). When a company maintains ownership over a product, it is important to give all the separate parts the longest lifespan possible. This way, all these different parts can be used in different product over and over again. There is a tension field between the company manufacturing side and the material and component conservation side.
A possibility is to create a connection in which the housing is closed which the user cannot open at all without specialized tools (that only the company owns for example). The downside of this is that the user will not be able at all to open the product, so if there is in any case a user that has an intrinsic motivation to repair, this will not be possible. On the other side, it will be very easy to make a very good waterproof connection that protects all the different components creating a longer lifespan for the product.
Whenever the product is broken or a part has reached the End-of-Life, the user should be able to return the bicycle lamp. When the lamp has reached the company again, is should be easy to open with a custom made disassembly tool and easy to identify the error. When all the different parts are separable without damaging, these can have a second life within another product, creating value for the company over and over again.
Integrating standardization and compatibility in the product can be done within different levels. The lamp could for example also be used within another product when it is not used on the bicycle. Or the housing could at the end-of-life be used in a second life in the different product. This would be more interesting when designing for a specific company with an entire product portfolio. It would be very efficient for companies when different components could be used within different product (and could fulfil different function within the different products?).
For the bicycle lamp, within this context, I want to look at the two lamps together as a system. At the moment, when one lamp breaks down, the user needs to buy a package with two new ones. For the user it would be more efficient when within the product of a bicycle a feature could be integrated that would enable the user to change colours of the lamp from red to white or reversed. When one lamp breaks down, the user buys a new one. Before he or she attaches it to the bicycle the colour is adjusted to the desired one.
This design strategy aims to facilitate a longer lifespan for the product. For the bicycle lamp the rule is: the lifespan is as long as the first thing that breaks down.
The longer lifespan will be created by creating a longer lifespan by eliminating the battery as the weakest link. That is why induction charging would be good possibility to facilitate an “endless” amount of electricity without replacing the battery. But because of the scope of this project that aims at only lower-segment bicycle lamps, this will not be considered. In a low-segment bicycle lamp a standardized (AA or AAA) battery would facilitate easier replacement for the user. It is also possible to recharge batteries instead of replacing them, when this can be done by a standardized micro-USB charger, no extra products are needed to facilitate this.
The durability of the design also relies on the degree in which the product is waterproof. When rain enters the product, this could cause permanent damage in the circuit of the lamp that the user cannot repair. A waterproof solution could mean an O-ring in the connection between one part of the housing with the other. A challenge within this solution would be ease of maintenance and repair and the integration of the on-off button.