1. Sourcing cores
A core is a laptop or desktop and its components that come into the assembly line of refurbishment. Wondering where do they come from? Here are the various channels from where refurbishers source the cores:
(b) Their existing device is thoroughly used and reaches a stage when it can be disposed off. Consumers dispose their devices through retailer-sponsored exchange programmes or sell to refurbishers directly through their online portals. Whichever the case, those devices find their way to refurbishing and recycling facilities.
Once the core enters the assembly line, it first goes through a sanitization process. This involves removal of stickers, cleaning the exteriors and panels with special chemicals to remove accumulated dust. On the inside, high pressure air is blown to remove dust accumulated in cooling ducts, cooling fan, processor, and on the inner walls of the casings.
Since all qualities of cores land in a refurbishing facility, every lot of cores undergoes the triage. It is the process of sorting and grading the cores based on the physical damage and the degree of functionality. Some may be in good working condition, while others need repairs and/or parts replacement. A small percentage may be in dead condition and could be sent to recycling facilities after salvaging useful parts from them.
Refurbishers make it mandatory to wipe out any existing data on the hard disks. A simple formatting is not sufficient to remove the data entirely, as data still stays on the hard disk after formatting. Hence, refurbishers use high level data erasing software to accomplish this task. Hard drives that are intended to be reused should be reformatted in accordance with the Guidelines for Media Sanitization published in the National Institute of Standards and Technology or similar standard. They ensure that no PC leaves their facility without the data wiping, which otherwise could damage the reputation of the refurbisher.
This is the most critical step of PC refurbishing. Cores that could be repaired call for small to medium repair works and replacement of parts. Hardware issues like loose connections, troubleshooting, and dry soldering are repaired and fixed, while missing/defective components are replaced and such parts may include RAM, graphic cards, capacitors, ICs and even hard disks in some cases. Once through with repairs and replacements, the core is reassembled and switched on to reset the BIOS to factory default settings.
A comprehensive testing of the refurbished PC is a must, as this step plays a crucial role in the improving the reputation of the refurbisher. Each PC is shaken to check for any rattling sounds indicating loosely held components or any small components/tools left inside by mistake. CPU, RAM and HDD are tested thoroughly to deliver optimum computing power. All the tests are logged, printed and attached to the respective devices. If any flags are raised during testing, the product is sent back to address the issues.
Microsoft provides licensed Windows OS and MS Office at special prices for refurbished PCs. However, this licensing is available only through Microsoft registered refurbishers. This way customers buying from such refurbishers benefit from the authentic OS and software. Once the OS, tools like MS Office and all the updates are installed, licenses are activated making them genuine.
Finally, the device is re-packaged under the brand of the refurbisher or private labeled for re-commerce service provider and shipped to market for re-sale. This approach ensures that refurbished computers are as good as new computers and get ready for another innings with another customer. Of course this industry is in need of sound business processes, industry standards, accreditations and benchmarks for quality, regulations by Government which may happen with the evolution of industry.
By using a refurbished computer, customers extend their support in two things:
(a) reducing the huge carbon footprint in the manufacturing of new laptops and desktops,
(b) employment and livelihood to skilled and semi-skilled people, who could otherwise end up unemployed.