A brief overview of all the improvements within different circular design strategies.
1. Attachment & trust
- Quality check within the machine
- Waterproof housing
- Induction charging
- Improve all weak components
- Permanent magnet to attach it to the bicycle
3. Standardization & compatibility
- Two LED’s per lamp (each lamp is both a red and a white lamp)
4. Ease of maintenance & repair
- Logistics to repair the product or recycle the components
5. Dis- & reassembly
- The internal components (induction charger, PCB, batteries and permanent magnet) are stacked. When the housing is disassembled all these components are easy accessible.
Life Cycle Assessment redesign
Material Impact Redesign
We assume that the return rate of the bicycle lamps is 90% and 85% of the returned bicycle lamps passes the quality check. In total each bicycle lamp gets charged 4 times in its lifespan without intervening of the repair centre. Each time charging costs about 0.0036MJ and the CED within the Netherlands (domestic use) of 4 times charging is 0.04608 MJ.
The database of Idemat is to narrow to know how much value is truly created by all the different components.
The average amount of times that the redesign get recharged is four. The lifespan (4 months) is the same as the original design since the battery is also a 3 Volt lithium battery.
Per bicycle ride original design: 0.063439431703125 MJ
Per bicycle ride redesign: 0.0317848076171875 MJ
Is this more circular?
Before we can say something about the improved circularity, we first need to figure out what circular is. In my opinion this is creating a flow of materials that continuously comes back to a place where the value can be regained. This can be done preferably on a product level, but if necessary this should be done on a part, component or material level. Since there is hardly anything published about what circular truly is, this is a topic that can be debated. For me circularity also means that the total impact per product could be higher in the improved design, but because it circulates the function unit should be lower. It is hard to make exact calculations because the calculation of a LCA is designed for linear systems.
What I have seen in my design is to create a product durability, I needed to put more (critical) materials in – a permanent magnet and the copper for the induction charging. Because the product could stay waterproof and the user cannot break any components such as the elastic band, this created a longer lifespan of the product. These materials were important to make the vending machine able to regain the most value on a product level. This way, an efficient flow was created between the user and the vending machine. Since no logistics were needed to transport broken bicycle lamps to a recycling facility, this was also more effective. On the long run, this makes it also cheaper for the company – but to enable this extra added materials are needed. Since these materials are very easy to separate from the rest of the materials, it is possible to recycle those as a last resort option. But is it more circular when you need to use more (critical) materials to make things flow more circular?
Besides that, I choose for lithium batteries because those are more durable – making the flow more effective because it will stay more between the vending machine and the user. Lithium is a critical material (EU21) and is hard to recycle. These batteries can be used multiple times and will create a longer product life span – but is this circularity? We can say that this choice is more circular than the old design since these lithium batteries are only used once (fully charged – uncharged) in the old design where in the redesign they will be used until their quality becomes too low.
And my last question is on the edge of my system boundary- but an entire vending machine system needs to be created to make this work. Within this machine a lot of (critical) materials are needed to keep it working. When implementing this product service system – we need to find a company that can make these vending machines circular before we can call this PSS “circular”.