Gruppe 8 – Grundfos/ Sintex – Recycling of Pumps & Electric Motors


Grundfos is a pump manufacturer, based in Denmark, with more than 18,000 employees globally. The annual production of more than 16 million pump units, covering circular pumps (UP), submersible pumps (SP) and centrifugal pumps (CR). Grundfos also produces electric motors for the pumps as well as electric motors for separate merchandising. Grundfos develops and sells electronics for controls for pumps and other systems.

Sintex has existed since 1997 and we are experts within powder and sintering technology – thus the name Sintex, which is an acronym for sinter experts. The firm began its life as a spin-off from Grundfos A/S. The idea was to exploit the fact that the materials and processes that were developed at Grundfos could be applied in other industries. Six employees from a department at Grundfos thus make up the foundation of the 160 employees we are today. Sintex now provides som of the rotors for the Grundfos motors.

The high level challenge: Acknowledging the Planet’s resource challenges as well as industry’s responsibility in providing solutions taking this challenge into account, Grundfos is arlready taking old retired pumps back from the Danish market to disassembly the pumps and ensure sustainable reuse of the materials and component. This program is expected to be expanded to other parts of the world. The primarily challenge in the take back is finding way to reuse components for other purposes, secondly finding ways to reuse materials.

The objective: The iron from the housing, the copper from the windings, the magnets from the rotor or the electronics from the controls are just some of the components found insidepump and motor. Should they just be recycled as scrap material and reused or can better and more innovative ways of using them be found?

The purpose of the projectis that the group investigates how the pump components can be re-used or upcycled. This could be through either a conceptual solution (eg. a service, platform, community) or through a direct application, through which the students try to find ways to use the components directly as separate components or smaller assemblies of components for different applications.


Recycle pumps


Insights from fieldwork
In order to test our concepts on – how to get more Grundfos pumps back, we contacted a sample of plumbers across Denmark. The phone interviews were separated in two major parts, general questions on their work and understanding of the handling process of the old pumps, and pitching of the two concepts (Green stamp/Point system).
General questions:
• How many pumps a month would you say you change?
• How many of them are Grundfos pumps?
• For whom? (private? Companies? Buildings?…)• Where do you buy new pump? And how (going there / ordering online…)
• What do you do with the old pumps?• Do you go to a scrap dealer? How often? How much do you get per pump?Ideas pitching:
• What would you say to a system where for each pump returned to the retail shop, you get points that you can exchange for coffee / cake and even reductions in the store?

• When you have let’s say 25 pumps, someone would come to take them and you would get a Grundfos certification saying that you are a green plumber working in collaboration with Grundfos… Stickers that you could put on your work truck? Have a green image?

Out of 22 calls, we managed to have 10 interviews.

– None of them were interested in the green stamp concept
– All of them were interested in the point system concept

– In majority, the plumbers were using only Grundfos pumps
– 1/3 gives old pump back to the place they bought the new one (gets money and are aware that Grundfos takes them back)
– The rest of them are going to the scrap dealer or recycling station
– Their customers are equally blended between B2C and B2B
– Majority of the plumbers would like if Grundfos would come and pick up the pumps

Stakeholder feedback
(Meeting with Alexandru 18.09.17.)
We presented the initial concepts from the first week of U-CrAc to Alexandru and explained that we’d reframed the problem Sintex gave us. He agreed on our take on the problem and thought that the concepts in general were interesting. We talked a bit about the problem that we were facing at that time; how we had a tough time setting up the quality criteria for evaluating each of the concept proposals. Alexandru suggested that we combined the concepts into one and gave us feedback on the quality criteria’s. He suggested that we tried to get in contact with some private consumer other than the plumbers we’d plan to contact to get their inputs for the quality criteria. In general, he was happy with our suggestions and project.

Quality criteria
As mentioned earlier in this document, the initial problem of optimizing the recycling process was reframed, to the optimization of the number of pumps returned and on how to raise awareness on the subject.
Hence, the specification of the quality criteria from our case partner was of special interest for our group. From meeting Louise Schjøtt Nielsen and Badrinath Veluri the day of our visit to Grundfos, we made hypothesises on realistic quality criteria for the end concept. Later, the criteria were presented to Alexandru Sorea.
As a result, some quality criterions were validated and our case partner suggested additional ones.
The above-mentioned criteria are listed below:
• The end-concept, if applied, should reach at least a break-even. (Comments: a pilot project would be interesting in order to measure the potential of the concept)
• Regarding the video, put emphasis on the green image of Grundfos. The concept shouldn’t turn around the financial gain for the case partner
• Test the concept with end-users (plumbers) and get feedback from them. Validations and negative responses are as important in the interest of understanding the value propositions for the end-users
• Put indirect pressure on the viewers in the marketing campaign might be an interesting path to take

Sketching process
As the problem has been reframed, the variation of sketching methods has been narrowed in, as the group is no longer handling the “reuse/refurnishing/recycle” of a physical object. The problem is now designing a new strategy of how to get more of the old pumps back to Grundfos. This leaves the group with a new take on the sketching process, as it is not a typical sketching process. Therefore, the group uses the “Core Design Framework”-circle, to determine the ranking of the quality criteria, and how to accommodate these.
The group was later introduced to the video-sketching method as a great tool for clarifying deficiencies in the “story”. The group established analog storyboards, for the different strategies postponed. These storyboards were transformed into very simple stop-motion videos, using printed designs.

Video sketching:


1. Point system / gamification
2. Discount system
3. Point system / green stamp

The videos presented on the website are each handling a different idea. The first video is an intro to each of the rest.
0. The intro presents the reframed problem. This is done by a campaign to raise awareness about the consequences of not returning/recycling the pumps.
1. The first video is about a plumber who returns the pump at a retail store, and in return he gets points. These points he can use for a cup of coffee or a snack, or he can use them as a discount in the store.
2. The second video is about a plumber who returns the pump at a retail store, and in return he gets a discount on an item in the store.
3. The third video is about a plumber who keeps the pumps at home, so when he has enough pumps, Grundfos comes and picks them up. In return for this he gets points (on an app), that he can use as a discount when he buys a new pump or tool.

Final Video

In order to improve the sustainability in Grundfos, they need to collect a lot more used pumps. The problem is how to motivate people to bring them back. The main collectors are the plumbers, but the ordinary person should also learn about the importance of returning the pumps. Changing the attitude in people might also effect the plumbers attitude. The final movie, opposite to the sketch movies, is created with a main focus on the campaign instead of the reward. It is bringing awareness about the problem to people all around the world, assuming it would have a bigger effect on the issue. In that way both the case and the reward are motivating people to help.
The following table is describing the structure of the concept.