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The Entrepreneur's Guide to Computer Recycling: Basics for starting up a computer recycling business in emerging markets
PC Recycling Guide
Human Resources Management

The success of a computer recycling business depends on good human resources management, as well as on the professional skills of its employees. However, in some countries, it may be difficult to find people qualified to meet the specific requirements of a recycling activity. Therefore, the entrepreneur will have to see to it that the employees are carefully recruited, properly supervised and, above all, well trained in order to acquire new knowledge and technical skills. At first, the entrepreneur will also have to ensure that the staff has complementary skills and a good sense of responsibility.

Business and administrative staff

Entrepreneur

As the executive director, the entrepreneur is the main manager of the enterprise. He guarantees the smooth running of the company and is responsible for its development and global strategy. He will have to prepare the business plan, define the positioning on the market, create partnerships and represent the enterprise. Therefore, he must be specially versatile and master all management techniques extremely well, as well as the technical aspects of his job. The entrepreneur will greatly benefit from being assisted by a business manager and a supply manager to ensure the expansion of his activity.

Business manager

The business manager is in charge of organizing sales and exploring the market in search of new clients. At first, the business manager may be responsible for all the commercial aspects. But later, as the company gets more and more clients, the entrepreneur may consider employing more business managers, each of them in charge of a particular area or a certain client type.

Technical staff

The number of technicians working on site varies greatly. It mainly depends on the quantity of equipment to be processed, on the employees’ productivity and on the workshop’s organization. Although there are several specific parts to play in a workshop, many employees are versatile and their training enable them to change posts to meet specific needs.

Drivers and packers

Drivers and packers operate logistics and collect equipment. They have to sort and load pallets, while ensuring that the equipment is not damaged.

When collecting, they may also be responsible for listing the various equipment and their main characteristics (serial number, condition, etc.). This job does not require any specific qualification. Nevertheless, drivers and packers must be in good physical condition, and be trained to face occupational hazards. They have to be provided with protective equipment preventing cuts, dust inhalation, or spinal injuries.

Once back on site, packers will have to unload vehicles and to direct equipment to the right place, according to the storage used by the company. Packers may also be responsible for providing work stations, collecting sorted components and preparing them to be dispatched to the appropriate industry.

Electrical and mechanical technician

The electrical and mechanical technician is in charge of maintaining devices, vehicles and the electrical installation on the recycling site. When recruiting, the entrepreneur must make sure that the technician is competent and experienced enough to perform these tasks: the smooth running of the activity often depends on him. As any other employee, the electrician must be provided with protective equipment to prevent possible injuries.

Workshop manager

The workshop manager manages and organizes the workshop: he plans work, establishes targets for every technician, but also motivates and stimulates the employees. The workshop manager must not only have leadership skills, but also sound technical knowledge, to be able to intervene in the event of any technical problem. Finally he has to see to the respect of safety regulations and to the individual safety of every technician.

Dismantling technician

The dismantling technician plays the leading role in the processing activity: he is in charge of the dismantling of equipment into spare parts or homogeneous material. This technician must be diligent, skillful and able to identify components to be recycled from those fit for reuse. Dismantling technicians are usually independent from one another, i.e. they dismantle equipment entirely. In most cases, they are mainly trained on site. They must be particularly protected, as dismantling is one of the most dangerous activities. They have to wear protective equipment against burns, but also gas or dust inhalation. The entrepreneur must ensure that these employees know and respect the various techniques of handling hazardous products.

Refurbishment technician

The refurbishment technician is in charge of updating the equipment fit for refurbishment. He must be diligent and methodical, but above all he must have perfect knowledge of technical and application-oriented functioning of the equipment. He is responsible for the whole computer refurbishment process. First, he has to technically update the computer, testing, cleaning and replacing its components, before installing a new exploitable computer system. The computer can then be put on sale.

Team management

Welcoming new employees

Each new employee must be able to benefit from a structured orientation programme. This programme consists of a presentation of the team and a basic description of the employee’s future missions. The entrepreneur may also welcome the employee to discuss targets and schedules. Once the new employee is working, he may be given a manual to help him understand and perform his tasks. Such a manual may consist of a description of the assigned tasks, some tips to perform them and a description of the tools to be used.

Training

To improve the competence of new employees, the enterprise may set up a training programme. The first aim of this programme is to enable, and encourage, the sharing of experience, through demonstrations and exercises involving both newcomers and more experienced employees. This programme must also define a progression plan for the new employee to follow. It will help him to estimate his level and his evolution. For example, this plan can at first appoint the employee to simple cleaning tasks, then to testing operations, and finally to computer refurbishment operations.

Dealing with occupational hygiene and safety

Employees must be informed of the occupational hygiene and safety issues relating to transportation, handling of materials and equipment, personal protective equipment (PPE), and exposure to pollutants. The enterprise is responsible for both occupational hygiene and safety. It is also responsible for emergency preparedness.

Motivating the team

To motivate the team and improve productivity, the entrepreneur may resort to the attribution of realistic work objectives and to the posting of results. The enterprise can post the quantities of equipment treated and to be treated weekly, monthly or quarterly.