Waste not, want not…
14 November 2017
Electronics are everywhere: in our homes, our workplaces, our cars and on our person – they have become pervasive throughout our everyday lives. But while electronics manufacturers typically focus on sourcing, they tend to neglect the end stages of the production lifecycle: repair, refurbishment and recycling.
This piece originally appeared in the November 2017 issue of Electronic Product Design & Test; to view the digital edition, click here – and to register to receive your own printed copy, click here.
This article from excess inventory firm CCL discusses how soaring demand for electronic products is fuelling electronics waste – and what manufacturers can do to address this challenge.
As the world embraces the Internet of Things, and manufacturing becomes the Internet of Manufacturing, we may be increasingly smartly connected, but as a result, electronic waste, or e-waste, is steadily rising. In fact, the soaring international demand for electric and electronic products is currently fuelling a global increase of this waste – set to reach 65.4 million tons annually by the end of 2017.
Large electronics distributors work much more closely now with their original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) than they did 20 years ago, which has helped to reduce the excess positions of their customers. But excess inventory will unfortunately always be an issue that all OEM and electronic manufacturing service (EMS) customers face. Excess electronic inventory can result from a variety of situations, and in the majority of cases, the component manufacturer will not accept returns. Manufacturers could try to sell the inventory themselves – or outsource the problem to a specialist.
CCL plays an active role in supporting OEM and EMS customers, enabling them to receive a financial return on excess component inventory they may hold. Offering a consultative service, CCL helps educate its OEM and EMS partners to consolidate their excess inventory for resale or recycling, freeing up valuable warehouse space and providing cash flow.
Lauren Costello-Fox, Marketing Manager at CCL explains: "In our day-to-day lives, we are conditioned to recycle. We place our garden waste into the appropriate bin and do the same with our plastics, cardboard, aluminium and other general waste. However, not all electronics manufacturers are aware of the options open to them when it comes to excess component inventory. CCL educates its customers to enable them to either sell or recycle excess electronic components."
We live in a fast-paced world, with rapid innovation driving technology advancement at an unprecedented rate. Many electronic devices are consequently becoming 'waste’ after only a few years of consumption. Cannibalisation and convergence in the market have seen shifts in electronics manufacturing; for example, VCRs have been replaced by DVD players, and DVD players have been replaced by Blu-ray players. The smartphone is now your camera, satellite navigation system, and – in some cases – your mobile office! This fusion of technologies has created a significant increase in e-waste for electronic equipment manufacturers.
Another contributing factor is the shortening lifecycle of consumer electronics. Manufacturers are facing the continuous challenge of accurately forecasting demand, as the production lifecycle changes to meet the needs of either the product’s next generation or its competitor’s market entry. In many instances, this leaves the manufacturer with excess component inventory, as they move onto their next generation at a pace determined by speed-to-market and time-to-profit.
In these volatile scenarios – such as new product introductions, production demand fluctuations, product specification alterations and/or economic issues – CCL can help its OEM and EMS partners.
The ability to market materials to a vast international audience via online trading platforms enables CCL to put OEMs’ overstock in front of thousands of potential buyers, while powerful software allows it to match excess inventory to live market demand. With close partnerships with OEMs and contract electronics manufacturers (CEMs) across the globe, CCL matches excess inventory to OEM and CEM bill of materials requirements, resulting in competitive prices for excess stock.
CCL can also handle items other than components, with no need to separate PCBs, plastics or metal. It can deal with all stock, sorting it into saleable items and identifying the recyclable waste. Any recycling can then be handled through a fully accredited WEEE-compliant company.
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