The refurbishment of products aims to extend their lifecycle. It thus contributes to waste avoidance and resource conservation, but is still not widespread in Germany despite relevant resource and emission savings. This is not only due to the high manual workload in refurbishment processes, but also due to the high variance of products. This makes reprocessing complex and results in high requirements for the needed personnel knowledge and skills in refurbishment.
In this short-term project "ARETE" the Wuppertal Institute together with codecentric and AfB are going to explore options to simplify refurbishment through the use of Augmented Reality (AR).
The project is conducted using the example of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), one of the fastest growing waste streams in Europe. WEEE products contain valuable and scarce raw materials but often in small amounts per products which are lost though conventional recycling processes. Therefore, the extension of the product life cycle through refurbishment is an important element in a circular economy. However, WEEE products are highly diverse in their specific construction. There are many different manufacturers, devices and device types that differ either fundamentally or in their details. Thus, the treatment steps and refurbishment processes can differ per device. This requires a high level of knowledge and training of the staff. In addition, the high manual workload, among other things, means that reprocessing falls short of its potential in the circular economy. Hence, it is crucial to find efficient and economical solutions for the necessary refurbishment processes.
Moreover, remanufacturing often goes hand in hand with the inclusion and (re-)integration of severely disabled and long-term unemployed people into the labour market and can thus also strengthen social sustainability. Inclusion personnel sometimes requires additional higher work support. In this context augmented reality can offer solution approaches to not only fundamentally simplify and improve the processes in remanufacturing and thus make them more economical, but also to support inclusive employees in their activities.
The initial hypotheses on which this project is based are that AR can:
Identified options for AR in refurbishment will be analysed and evaluated for their technological and economic feasibility and sustainability potentials.