Outdoor specialist Vaude has always set great store in ensuring that its products have the smallest environmental footprint possible and that they can be used and repaired over the long-term. Always pushing boundaries, it is now systematically embedding reparability in its product development operations.
The Repair Index process aims to ensure that products are designed to be as easy to repair as possible from their inception. CEO Antje von Dewitz emphasised, “With our Repair Index, we are strengthening our focus on repairability and reaffirming our stance against a throwaway society. It shows that we are taking our claim seriously. Our products should have a long service life and be repairable.”
A product’s entire period of service right up to what happens to it afterward is what Vaude team had in mind when it developed the Repair Index to evaluate product repairability. An exhaustive point system can be used to examine possible modifications in the areas of design, material selection and processing technologies in order to increase and optimise repairability.
It includes issues such as replacement parts, the tools and resources needed for a repair and subsequently, how quickly and easily the repair can be made and by whom.
Quick and easy repair is possible, for example, with Vaude’s wheeled bags. The wheels for these bags are prone to wear and tear but can be easily ordered as replacement parts and replaced by the owner quickly and without great technical effort. This means that these items earn a good score in the Repair Index.
In contrast, repairing a waterproof hf-welded zip in a rain jacket is possible but relatively demanding. The time required is higher and it can usually only be carried out by qualified personnel as it requires specialised tools and specific expertise. It means that a lower score is currently achieved for these products.
The next step is searching for alternative processing technologies to the usual market standards in order to minimise the repair effort and improve the repair score. CSR Manager Hilke Patzwall added, “Our Repair Index provides our customers with the assurance that reparability is not a coincidence in Vaude products, but has been taken into account in the development of each and every product.”
As with all sustainability issues, the challenge lies in achieving an optimal balance between each of these aspects. The evaluation system will become an integral part of the next generation of Vaude’s evolving Green Shape sustainability label. All new products of the Summer Collection 2020 have already been subjected to the new repair criteria; from the Summer Collection 2022, the criteria will then apply to all products.
With the Repair Index, VAUDE is adding another component to its commitment to extended product lifetimes. VAUDE is already vigilant about attaining excellent durability by using long-lasting materials and high-quality workmanship during the production phase. Vaude also has an in-house Repair Workshop and cooperates with the online platform iFixit as well as Repair Cafés.
When a customer no longer needs a product, it can be resold in the Vaude Second Use Shop on eBay or donated to the Fairwertung network for social purposes. And for those who aren’t interested in owning certain types of gear themselves, many items can be rented from the company’s iRentit service.