Netbit Electronics is the only major power supply company focusing exclusively on customer premises equipment (CPE). Broadband TV News speaks with Global Sales Manager Sandy McLaren about its activities, the importance of eco-design and plans for the future.
When was NetBit established and what is its main business activity?
NetBit Electronics was established in 2000. We are the only major power supply company that focuses exclusively on customer premises equipment (CPE). This includes: broad gateways, video set-top boxes and smart home devices. Our ethos is to create customizable power supply designs that feature industry leading efficiency and power density and competitive prices.
Why is it now so important to consider how electronic devices are disposed of responsibly?
There is a huge demand for new products and consumers are becoming more environmentally conscious. It has never been more important to consider how electronics are disposed of after their lifecycle. The UN reported that in 2019, a staggering 53.6Mt of e-waste was generated.
Electronics contain valuable elements, such as gold, silver, copper, platinum, aluminium and cobalt. When you think of it that way, when we dispose of them without recycling, we are actually throwing away precious materials. We can be more efficient by using recycled materials opposed to creating new ones. An example of this: recycling aluminium requires only ~5% of the total energy required for mining, processing, and manufacturing virgin material.
NetBit has made eco-design its number one priority in 2021. What are the main areas you are focussing on?
We’re focusing on four key areas that cover how we design, develop, and deliver CPE power supplies to global OEMs and operators and improve our power supply’s eco-credentials. These four areas include: Design Optimisation, Post-Consumer Recycled (PCR) Materials, Eliminating Single-Use Plastics and Sustainable Eco Packaging.
Can you give examples of how some of these areas can make a huge impact on the eco-credentials of the PSU?
Two key areas that will have a huge impact on our power supply eco-credentials are ‘Design Optimisation’ and ‘PCR Materials’.
If we look at the first, Design Optimisation, this deals with the energy consumed by an electronic product during its use (the most significant environmental impact an electronic product has!) However, three simple steps can mitigate this. Through optimising nominal power output for the application, making the device physically smaller to use less materials and by increasing the efficiency and reliability for lower total cost of ownership. We believe the optimum eco-design lies in the right balance of these three factors and work closely with our customers’ engineering and product teams to help optimise their design.
The use of PCR Materials eliminates the need virgin plastics. Virgin plastic consumes a lot of energy from the extraction and transportation of crude oil all the way through to processing and formulating it into plastic pellets suitable for injection molding.
We are currently trialling various grades of PCR materials for both existing and new platform designs and can now offer our customers a choice of PCR grades and types. We can also provide test data showing the strength between PCR and virgin materials.
Looking to the future, how do you see the field of eco design evolving in the next few years with respect to new products that NetBit is planning to develop?
At NetBit we develop both standard and custom platforms in parallel. Eco-design features will be a fundamental part of how we develop both these platform in the coming months and each will require a different approach. Let us quickly explain the difference.
Our standard platforms are designed to cover the majority of our customers’ needs. We have platforms ranging from 5W to 150W which can be quickly configured to meet the needs of the customer CPE hardware. We intend to harmonise as many of the eco-design changes across all our platforms so that as many customers as possible get the benefits.
When a customer needs a special solution, we develop a custom platform to give them exactly what they need. If they can think it, we can build it! With respect to eco-design these custom designs present the perfect opportunity for customers to have the biggest influence on the total lifetime impact of the product if they are designed in from the very beginning.
For example, optimising the power output and using recycled materials can make a huge difference to the total energy consumption. Or using halogen free materials makes it much easier to recycle the device at the end of its service life. We see it a key responsibility now to add eco-design features to any custom project and build it in from day one.
1. United Nations & ITU & ISWA ‘Global E-Waste Monitor 2020’ report
3. Design + Environment, a global guide to designing greener goods; 2001, Lewis, H.; Gertsakis, J.
4. LG Chemicals Sustainable Strategy (Advanced Materials Group); 2020