What seems to be low-priced at first sight can be very expensive for all involved – user, environment and society – in the long term.
With a sustainable product concept, InoTec shows how to leave a small ecological footprint, how to produce social fair and how to keep the total operating costs for its customers low.
The life cycle of many IT-devices is getting shorter:
Every two years a new cellphone, every three years a new computer. And even document scanners within the B2B-field are not in use for five years or longer. A study of the German FEA (Federal Environment Agency) shows that lots of IT-devices are being exchanged before they have even reached 10 to 50 percent of their economic life-time.
A high price for environment and human being
The flip side of this evolution is a continuously rising wastage of valuable resources and significant damages to the environment. It needs 1.500 liter of water as well as 500 up to 1.500 kg resources to manufacture a computer with monitor.
What´s even more fatal: Despite legal provisions within the European Union a good portion of the resources doesn´t get back to the circle of goods and values. Less than 50 percent of the IT- and telecommunication devices sold per year get back to recycling, says the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Nuclear Safety.
About a quarter of it goes into the export. Like this, every single year more than 155.000 tons of partly dangerous electronic scrap is being shipped to Africa and Asia, where it gets disassembled regardless of human being and environment.
But this is only one side of the high price that lots of people have to pay for the production of IT-devices. For example, the important resource tantalum is mined in the Democratic Republic of the Congo under slave-like conditions. And a bigger part of the IT-production in China violates against employment regulations, like they are defined at the core labor standards of the International Labor Organization (ILO).
Sustainable product concept
Which alternatives to business models, which require a high product circulation, are there? Peter Schnautz, CEO of InoTec GmbH, has a clear response to this question: „Get better, focus on quality”.
Since the company was founded in 1992, the Hessian organization focuses consistently on a sustainable product concept, which shows four characteristics:
One central feature of the sustainable product concept is the use of long-lasting components. Also InoTec provides extensive upgrade- and update possibilities for its scanners, which are already in consideration during the development of the device. A long life cycle is also reached because of a user-friendly care and maintenance of the devices, which can mostly be done by itself.
The consumption of electricity of InoTec SCAMAX® scanner in stand-by mode is lower as permitted by the EU Energy-Star guidelines. In addition, InoTec GmbH guaranties an ecological and professional disposal if the scanner is returned by the buyer. The corresponding recycling program considers a close cooperation with a local certified waste management center, which especially supports the integration of disabled person into working life.
For InoTec, the understanding of a sustainable product concept does also comprise an environmentally and socially compatible way to manufacture the scanners. For Peter Schnautz this also includes fair wages and strict environmental- and safety regulations. That´s why ,Made in Germany’ is a major part of our philosophy. The total developing process – from development to the first prototype to the serial production – happens at the German Headquarter.
To prevent misunderstandings, Peter Schnautz emphasizes: „We don´t want to be seen as do-gooders in the market”. He rather directs the attention to the compatibility of ecology and economy. „Sustainable product concepts create a win-win situation for all involved: Provider, environment and customer”.
Total operating costs in focus
This approach helped InoTec to achieve a qualitative growth over the years. „Our economic success is founded on innovative products, which offers additional functional value, a long period of use and technological continuity – these properties create low total operating costs for the customer”.
The ‚Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)’ do not only include the costs of purchase, but all aspects of the further work, like repair and maintenance as well as the unproductive use of the device. More and more users know about the cost advantages of a sustainable product concept.
The company AdVision digital GmbH owns the largest media database of Germany and digitalizes trade and public magazines for it. During the selection process for the scan systems, the InoTec SCAMAX® 4x3-scanner was higher in price compared to the competition, but it had product benefits, which lead to a totally new cost analysis in the long term. „By using the currently engaged scanners we had to mark the edges of the magazines, so that they had been detected correctly. This work step ceases completely with the InoTec scanners, the automatic edge detection works without any problems”, explains Carsten Koster, CEO of AdVision.
The reliable input system as well as useful functions – like the automatic deskew of the documents – make an efficient and almost uninterrupted workflow possible. In addition Carsten Koster is very happy about low costs for wear and tear parts and a long expected useful life; one of the two InoTec scanners is on duty since more than 8 years.
The cost advantage per year adds up to over 11.000 Euro in total. The company health insurance fund “Verkehrsbau-Union” (BKK-VBU) equipped its mailroom with InoTec SCAMAX® 4x3 scanners to centralize the incoming mail. Besides ergonomics, the total operating costs of the infrastructure, including service & maintenance for four or six years, have been important selection criteria. In conjunction with a large test program, Peter Salathe, manager of the department ,Internal Service’ at the BKK-VBU, comes to the following result: “InoTec scanners provide the best combination of total operating costs and capability”.
He particularly appreciates the upgrade concept of the scanners. Both, increase of the scan speed and additional functions for the image optimization and processing, can be set up afterwards.
Furthermore in product development InoTec takes care, that possibly all users of one series benefit from new technologies in the form of upgrades. In this way it was possible for Peter Salathe to update the already used InoTec SCAMAX® scanner by installing a LED-light system and doing some more optimizations.
For the most positive ergonomics and to simplify working with the SCAMAX® devices, InoTec developed a work table which is height adjustable with gas pressure. In this way you can also use the scanner as a standing workplace.
Nowadays three InoTec production scanners complete the routine workload; in the past four SCAMAX® scanners in continuous operation did that same job. Quality improvements at the workflow have been reached by a lower technical error rate – like paper jam or the damage of the documents at the paper input – and less unplanned failures. The result: „98 percent of all incoming documents get to the responsible employee at the same day“, says Peter Salathe.
All these examples show, that sustainability and business success are not a contradiction, but go hand in hand. Or how Peter Schnautz says: „Sustainable product concepts are the first voice for those who think and act cost effectively“.