The search for an efficient and reliable refurbishment partner brought Satellic to WAAK. A permanent team of employees now keeps around 100,000 OBUs (On Board Units or toll boxes) in top condition each year, enabling these devices to be reused up to 8 times by truck drivers who drive on Belgian roads. A strong partnership based on a sustainable vision.
Since April 2016, trucks weighing 3.5 tonnes and over have to pay a toll when they use Belgian roads. This system requires an OBU (On Board Unit, or toll box) in the truck’s cab. This is a GPS-based registration device that is used for the calculation of the kilometer charge. Satellic rents out these devices under contract with the government service Viapass. When an OBU is returned, the device is certainly still worth recovering - subject to a meticulous inspection and the necessary repairs. Satellic has called upon WAAK to do that refurbishment, which concretely means: managing, registering, reading out, emptying, reprogramming, cleaning and repackaging. These activities are performed in a securely closed-off zone in WAAK where every device is fully traceable. A permanent team of employees keeps around 100,000 OBUs in top condition each year.
The strength of social enterprises
WAAK employs people with a distance to the regular job market. That is a challenge but at the same time also a strength. Workers in social enterprises are intensely focused on their subtask in the process. And precisely such concentration is critical for devices like OBUs, where many complex parts and processes meet. "We firmly believe in circular entrepreneurship because the contribution our employees make is significant", says Tim Vannieuwenhuyse, general manager of WAAK.
WAAK and Satellic spent an intense preparatory year together transforming the complex refurbishment into a workable process, with minimum risk of errors and numerous checks. It proved to be a sound investment for both sides. “This long preparation period demanded a lot from us, but it was worth it”, affirms Satellic spokesman Benoit Lempkowicz. "With WAAK we have a partner we can rely on for the coming 8 to 10 years. Moreover, they have shown themselves to be very flexible, and for us that´s a must.”
Added value in the ecological economy
With a clear perspective on the future, WAAK is explicitly orienting itself towards the ecological economy. The first concrete refurbishment projects are clear examples of this. Collaborating on heat pumps, electric charging points, electric cars and smart digital meters also forms part of this segment. Tim Vannieuwenhuyse: “We have healthy ambitions. This year we want to create 25% added value in the ecological economy. With the Satellic project we´re taking another step in the direction of the circular economy.”
WAAK looks for complex activities and converts them, with the support of technology, into concise sub-processes for its employees. This intellectual exercise often requires a lot of time and energy, so WAAK intentionally looks for long-term assignments. The Satellic project creates full-time work for 25 to 30 people each day. And in the meantime, employees in other departments are also assembling power cables and WAAK is actively studying whether a circular use is possible for the polystyrene blisters. Because that thinking together and helping to improve processes on the basis of engineering and experience also makes WAAK a strong partner for companies.
With Satellic and Viapass, WAAK has a particularly fine best practice of circular economy with impact. Johan Schoups, General Director of Viapass: “We are delighted to have a partner like WAAK on board in our circular story. It is a beautiful collaboration between Satellic as a regular company, WAAK as a social economic company and we as a government body. A win-win-win for everyone involved, with the truck driver as the biggest winner.”