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How to Sustainably Optimize Your Reverse Logistics and Repair Cycle

By | June 28, 2024 | 6 minute read

Your customers are pleased with their technology investment. It’s benefited their operations, performing as promised and delivering the results they’d hoped to achieve. Their replacement horizon is quite long and the product is engineered for long-term use. That said, even the best-designed equipment with the highest-quality components sometimes fail. 

The moment the product failure happens — and all the following moments — can make or break your customer relationship. While some degree of disruption is unavoidable, customers expect the repair cycle to be prompt, professional and effective to keep their operations flowing as smoothly as possible — but that’s a tall order when original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) don’t have a rock-solid global depot repair service strategy in place. Product failure also puts a spotlight on an OEM’s sustainability practices. That rock-solid depot repair strategy isn’t just about timeliness and technical prowess; it’s also about your ability to provide depot repair services in an environmentally responsible way.

With more attention being paid to companies’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices, OEMs that sell products around the world must also be concerned with providing repairs around the world. But this can be challenging. There are tradeoffs at every turn. For instance, shipping products to and from out-of-region repair depots increases your carbon footprint, but building your own in-house depot repair structure is rarely feasible or sustainable. Lifetime buys of older components can provide peace of mind, but they can also be costly and bloat your square footage — think of the environmental impact of warehouse operations — and give rise to disposal conundrums in the likely event that lifetime buy forecasts don’t pan out.  

When equipment is in use beyond its components' expected lifespan, repairs and replacements will be necessary at some point. A key element of an effective repair strategy is designing with the end in mind to ensure you have a reliable way to handle products as they approach end of life, whether that’s repairing a failed part or swapping out parts that are no longer repairable. Designing with the end in mind also requires that you have sustainable processes in place to dispose of parts that are technologically outdated, physically damaged or deemed unreliable for whatever reason. It gives you a cost-effective way to deal with the waste inherent with innovation, when demand for older equipment wanes as more sophisticated products become available.

A well-rounded, sustainable repair strategy that takes a proactive approach — including trade-ins and hardware recovery programs, which then become a rich source of replacement parts — benefits your customers, your business and the environment.

Depot Repair Case Study: Cohesity

Maintaining Trust Through Quality, Reliability and Sustainability

Data security and management company Cohesity was thinking broadly about its repair cycle when it tapped Shyft Global Services to deliver depot repair services at scale. Cohesity prides itself on high-quality products manufactured to exacting standards, and their customers expect that same expertise and attention to detail when it comes to repairs. Shyft’s comprehensive suite of flexible, scalable repair depot services centers on quality, availability and expertise — all critical to maintaining customer trust. Their forward and reverse logistics expertise ensured the repair cycle would function seamlessly for Cohesity and its customers.  

“When a customer contacts our service team with a hardware issue, they are already experiencing a negative event. Delayed delivery or replacement hardware that fails will significantly add to their dissatisfaction. Cohesity measures repair success in two main ways: the percentage of time the part is available at the time of the RMA and the ability to deliver it within the agreed-upon SLA. Shyft Global Services is an excellent partner in both respects,” said Rob Horne, Manager of Repair and Service Parts Planning at Cohesity.

Shyft’s component-level diagnosis and repair capabilities — something few repair providers can offer — also intrigued Cohesity. Shyft engineers and technical specialists are highly skilled in failure detection and root cause analysis down to the component level on the board, which reduces service costs, improves repair yields and extends the life of legacy products. That’s something both Cohesity and its customers could appreciate.

Planning for a Sustainable Future

Cohesity is committed to evolving and growing its business, software and products in a responsible and environmentally sound manner. Thinking about the entire product lifecycle from the outset ensures that products are designed for ease of repair and making the most of the circular economy, which thrives on the six Rs of sustainability. Customers are becoming savvier about such practices and may prefer to purchase from a company offering trade-in/trade-up programs, recycling options and eco-conscious disposal practices — all of which an expert global repair services provider can offer. A regenerative system that extracts maximum value when products and components are no longer viable is good for the business, the brand and the long-term health of the planet.

“Repeatable repair and testing processes, including component-level repair, allow us to purchase less new material and carry less inventory,” Horne said. “It benefits our customers and our bottom line while significantly reducing the amount of material we scrap or put into landfills.”

Additionally, as part of its hardware recovery program, Cohesity relies on Shyft for parts harvesting. This entails repurposing usable mechanical parts and active components from a failed unit to repair other units that are coming in, rather than buying new repair parts or scrapping altogether. Shyft also repurposes or recycles all the packaging materials and shipping boxes received with Cohesity’s products, and the repair program is expanding to Europe, too, further reducing Cohesity’s overall environmental impact.

Beyond Fixing Components: The Value of Comprehensive Repair Services

Outsourcing non-core capabilities is a tried-and-true strategy for OEMs focusing on technology production and innovation. Enhancing repair quality and service delivery through a well-vetted, expert depot repair services partner can increase profitability and give OEMs the flexibility to adapt quickly as preferences, products and production run change. Spare parts planning, stocking-level maintenance and flexible supply chain modeling help reduce e-waste, too, one key to greater sustainability. OEMs can also differentiate themselves via the forward and reverse logistics expertise, depot repair experience, supply chain agility, global sourcing and supplier relations that an experienced partner offers.

“When companies outsource their depot repair services to Shyft, they’re trusting us with one of the most valuable and irreplaceable aspects of their business — their customers. It’s incumbent on us to deliver exceptional services that enhance customer loyalty while strengthening their bottom line,” said Ken Ueltzen, Sales Leader at Shyft.

Learn more about the Shyft-Cohesity partnership and find out how your company can streamline repair services, lower costs, prioritize sustainability and build long-term customer relationships through global, expert depot repair services. 


About the Author

Ken-UeltzenKen Ueltzen is a Sales Leader within the repair services organization of Shyft Global Services. His professional experience spans more than 40 years, including key roles in sales and marketing, business development and strategy, manufacturing operations and engineering. He works closely with service delivery experts in Shyft’s state-of-the-art Roseville, California facility, which is home to a wide range of depot repair service capabilities.