The reconditioning of high-tech products carried out in France, an ecological asset

The problem with our smartphones

We all have laptops, smartphones, tablets and a whole host of electronic objects in our homes that we forget even exist, as they are an integral part of our daily lives.

But do you know what each of these devices is made of? Do you know the materials used in their manufacture? Have you heard of their manufacturing process? How did they get to you?

Let’s take an Android smartphone, the most classic. This consists of a touch screen, electronic chips, a battery, a microphone, speakers, a vibrating module and of course an essentially plastic shell. For tablets and laptops, it’s exactly the same thing.

Each of these elements was imagined by hordes of engineers who, to bring them to life, drew from nature the building blocks essential to their design. Thus, there are metals that you know such as nickel, copper, magnesium, cobalt or lithium. But also a whole bunch of other rare metals which are also called “rare earth” and whose existence you probably do not know: tantalum, indium, hafnium, cerium, neodymium, lanthanum, yttrium, praseodymium, terbium and many others. ‘others. The list is long !

Only, here, there is a catch! These rare earths have a particularity that escapes many: they are rare. Less than 100,000 tons are extracted per year. When we know that a recent hard drive can contain up to 4.5 grams, we can see the challenge that manufacturers always want to extract more and more.

But they are part of the finite resources of our planet and in addition to being sometimes extracted from mines in deplorable human conditions, they also have a significant ecological weight. Indeed, these rare earths have the particularity of being mixed with other minerals. They must therefore be separated from the rest and this requires a lot of water as well as many polluting chemical processes.

And all this is not likely to get better since the global demand for electronic devices continues to increase exponentially. We are collectively addicted to electronics. The proof, in 2021, the French alone bought more than 25 million new smartphones.

So what do we do ?

Well we recycle!

And yet, even if it is sometimes complicated, we know how to recycle all these electronic objects. Only 10% of our smartphones enter this recycling circuit.

You have all heard of these people in India or China who receive whole shipments of our electronic waste to extract gold or copper, once again in deplorable working conditions.

Whether in India, China, the United States or Europe, sectors are developing to precisely extract all these metals from our objects in order to reuse them.

But there is also another way which is still too little talked about: Reconditioning!

The reconditioning

When you buy a second-hand smartphone or laptop on Le Bon Coin, you inherit the faults of the device. A scratched screen, a sizzling speaker, a battery out of breath…etc. With refurbishment it is different since the device is refurbished before it is sold to you.

This is because companies that refurbish electronics have rigorous repair and testing processes. Defective components are replaced and their performance assessed before being placed on the market again. It is therefore perfectly reliable devices that are put back into the circuit.

Apart from the quality of the product, for the consumer, it is also very beneficial, since the prices of refurbished devices are much lower than those of devices sold new. It is not uncommon for people to approach -50% on certain refurbished devices. On an Android smartphone or Refurbished iPhone in France, it’s still super interesting to have widely reduced prices. And obviously at the level of ecology, it is unstoppable.

Rather than ending up in a landfill, in favor of a new device, thanks to reconditioning, the product begins a second life. The ecological footprint of manufacturing, marketing or transport is therefore smoothed over time and this reconditioned object will take the place of a freshly manufactured object. And that is beautiful.

Also, if you like older models, it’s also the only way to get a “new” one as it will no longer be sold by the manufacturer.

But then how does it happen?

Refurbishing a device is a time-consuming process. Different technicians take turns on the object to evaluate it, dismantle it, replace the defective parts, reassemble it and finally carry out a battery of manual tests. Finally, if everything is conclusive, resell it to the consumer. It is therefore a process that requires labor and time. Much of the time.

However, the company Largo, French reconditioner, has recently evolved its entire refurbishment process by automating a large part of it. It is the first on the French market to automate several key phases of reconditioning.

Apart from saving time, this automation reinforces the level of quality of the reconditioning of electronic devices and makes it possible to absorb the peaks of activity required by customer demand.

Automation of reconditioning at Largo

The diversity of refurbished devices means that humans remain essential for replacing components, but the entire “testing” phase has been made fully automated thanks to 6 eTASQ Motion robots co-developed by PONANT Technologies and Largo.

These rather unique and fully programmable robots can thus work on different phases related to the testing of HMIs (Human Machine Interfaces) of refurbished smartphones and tablets. As these tasks are quite repetitive, it allows the humans present in the workshops to work on more complex and interesting tasks.

Placed under the watchful eye of their operators, these robots then carry out very precise and perfectly objective tests on 37 control points: Connectivity, audio, buttons, sensors, screen, cameras, battery and security.

Their “touch”, their “sight” and their robotic “hearing” make it possible to avoid any notion of subjectivity that a human technician might have, for example on the quality of the screen or the sound.

And above all, they are hard workers. These 6 eTASQ Motion are capable of evaluating up to 20 devices per hour.

However, rest assured, after passing through the expert “hands” of the robot, the smartphone or tablet is visually checked one last time by a human, before being put back into the distribution circuit for consumers.

Go Largo!

Thanks to this unprecedented reconditioning approach, Largo can thus accelerate its growth and recondition many more smartphones, tablets and PCs than before. And that is good for the environment.

In addition, this automation further enhances the quality of Largo’s 100% French reconditioning. Their customers will be happy.

Click here to visit the Largo website.

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SAKHRI Mohamed
SAKHRI Mohamed

The blog of a computer enthusiast who shares news, tutorials, tips, online tools and software for Windows, macOS, Linux, Web designer and Video games.

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