The first customer deliveries of the Nokia Networks' new GSM base station, MetroSite, got underway in autumn 2000. With the Nokia MetroSite solution operators can build a dense microcellular network with capacity of up to ten times that of a conventional macrocellular network.
Marketing and manufacture was preceded by plenty of planning work including work on the environmental aspects of the product. Heli Lauronen, who is responsible for Design for Environment at Nokia Networks and Eero Riekki, specialist, explain that MetroSite features several details that decrease environmental impact.
"Everything begins with material selection," says Heli. "We test the materials for long periods since the products have long service lives. We examine their environmental suitability and availability, for instance with our suppliers who often give us very good ideas."
"The use of recycled plastics is rather difficult in the components which have strict quality and color requirements. But they can be used for shielding units that replace transmitter-receiver units (TRX) in the cabinets. The cabinets must be filled up in order to ensure optimal cooling," says Eero.
There is a maximum of four TRX in MetroSite and when TRX are lacking, shielding units are used. Cooling is a challenge in the sense of energy consumption, which should be decreased. This is also a customer demand.
In MetroSite the use of materials has been decreased by thinning the material accumulations with better design. At the same time the product weight has decreased which has influenced product price and transported tons. The transportation has also been made more efficient by loading the large plastic parts from a supplier inside the end packages that are fetched from another supplier at the beginning of the logistic chain. This has reduced the transportation as well as warehousing costs.
In MetroSite there is only one type of plastic used, and it is recyclable. Also, exclusion of flame retardants, paints and coatings has improved recyclability.
"Recycling and disassembly have been made easier by molding several parts as one component, decreasing the number of screws and marking the mechanical parts," Eero explains. "There is no internal cabling in MetroSite either, making for easier disassembly."
DfE has been a part of Networks' product design since 1996. "We want DfE to be part of all product design, which is a great challenge to training," says Heli. "There were more than 100 people designing MetroSite, which is only a small fraction of the people to be trained, and new employees are coming in all the time. Also, outsourcing of design work will increase. Our goal is to get DfE to go through the whole process smoothly and to move the emphasis to the beginning of the planning."