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2018-04-24 [

Sebastian Glaser


The redesigned Philips Digital Voice Recorder for a Circular Economy

Our research area is proud to present some of the results from the sustainablySMART research project.

Within the sustainablySMART project, the Austrian project partners Speech Processing Solution and the research team ECODESIGN from the Vienna University of Technology developed a new product concept for a Digital Voice Recorder based on the principles of a Circular Economy. The digital voice recorder is typically used for professional dictation in hospitals or by lawyers.

The Product Concept: The lifetime of the different components of a voice recorder differ quite a bit, while the printed circuit board could serve up to 3 product lifetimes, the housing cannot. As such different strategies need to be applied once the product is exchanges. The housing should be designed for recycling and the PCB should be designed for remanufacturing. In order to enable the distinction of the different end of life strategies in the new product concept components with the same end of life strategy (recycling, reuse and remanufacturing) are bundled into modules. The modules are designed for easy dismantling from the product and are optimised for the corresponding end of life strategy.

The Business model: One of the major difficulties in a Circular Economy is to get access to the used products as a source of valuable modules, parts or materials. Through a new business model, a rental concept, a simple product take-back is possible. It enables to extend the lifetime of the whole product, the lifetime of different modules and it supports efficient material recycling. This leads to a 35% reduction of the environmental impacts. In other words within three product cycles the environmental impact of one entire product can be substituted. Next to the environmental gains the economic analysis shows that the refurbishing or updating of used devices leads to an economic advantage e.g. as the refurbished device costs only 70% of a newly produced digital voice recorder (inclusive shipping costs for take back…) or as new customer segments can be targeted. It can be highlighted even if the product is designed for circular economy it will not automatically lead to a reduced environmental impact, it also needs a suitable business model, where the product can be taken back easily, where the full environmental and also economic gains can be utilised.