The technology company, Dell, announced on January 9th during the CES(Consumer Electronic Show) in Las Vegas that they would be partnering with the jewelry company Bayou with Love. The limited edition collection, The Circular Collection, is conformed by pieces made out 14 and 18 carat gold extracted from the motherboards of Dell’s recycling program. Any electronic device can be be dropped of Dell to recycle at any associated Goodwill Store.
This news, as frivolous as it seems, is directly correlated to Dell’s supply chain and process strategy. On our first class we learned that supply chain is the interrelated processes that produce services and products for a customer. This week, we studied process analysis which is the pattern of decisions made in managing processes so that they will achieve their competitive priorities. There are four process decisions to be made that directly affect the process itself and indirectly the service and the products that it provides. These are: process structure, customer involvement, capital intensity and resource flexibility.
- Process structure is the determination of the process type relative to the kinds of resources needed, how resources are partitioned between them and their key characteristics. In the case of Dell’s extraction of gold a small batch process is what fits them best since it handles moderate volumes and the gold reclamation process to extract gold from the devices is fairly repetitive.
- Customer involvement is the way in which customers become part of the process and the extent of their participation. High involvement from the customer is essential to make the jewelry. Without a conscious effort that comes from a customer’s decision to recycle an electronic device, the line would not be possible. Currently, only 12.5% of e-waste is recycled in other products.
- Capital intensity is the mix of equipment and human skills in the process. For the extraction of the gold fixed automation, a manufacturing process that produces one type of part or product in a fixed sequence of simple operations, is used. A partner company, Wistron GreenTech, is in charge of the gold reclamation process. The precious minerals are dissolved in eco-friendly chemicals and then the gold is filtered and separated from the chemicals.
- Resource flexibility is the ease with which employees and equipment can handle a wide variety of products, output levels, duties and functions. Unskilled workers can control the automated process of gold extraction, which means the workforce is flexible. But on the other hand, high equipment investment is needed since the process is very specific but repetitive.
These are just a few characteristics that go into this very interesting process. If you are interested in learning more about the Circular Collection a link to a video about the project is provided!