“We don’t give it a thought,” Bray said. “We’re just happy with it. They come ready to go, and we just stick them in place. I know there’s a good process behind it. I just take it for granted.”
He added: “They are really top-notch computers. They are top-of-the-line. You can’t tell them from a new one.”
During a tour of CDI’s facilities, Chris Bristow, CDI’s operations manager, explained the company’s quality control process.
“We are dealing with a year-and-a-half to two-year-old technology, so people are getting pretty decent equipment,” Bristow said. “We touch everything at least twice.”
All equipment procured by CDI goes through the test and audit production line. Trained computer technicians process the equipment, and each stage is recorded.
First, PCs and notebooks are tested for functionality. A testing software image is loaded to see if everything works, including the hard drive, CD player, DVD burner, video card, and so on. This process is automated, which eliminates human error. Then, the appearance is assessed. “Every product has got to look nice,” Bristow said.
Then, the item travels in a tray on a metal roller conveyor belt to be cleaned, fixed, and upgraded as needed.
Cleaning is a two-part process. With their covers removed, desktop computers travel through a custom-built “dust containment booth” in which high-powered vacuums and blowers suck and blow dust off the guts of the computer. The equipment is also hand-washed and polished.
After the cleaning, each computer is tested again, and any customer-requested modifications—such as upgrades or pre-loading of an image—are fulfilled.
“Everything is date [and] time stamped, so we know where the unit is at all times and who touched it,” Bristow said. “Everything gets cleaned twice: once before it goes to the warehouse, and once before it goes to the customer.”
In another area, technicians test and clean LCD monitors. “A monitor with bad pixels instantly fails,” Bristow said. “If you look at a lab in a school, one bad monitor stands out like a sore thumb, so our standard has to be high and consistent across the board.”
A green solution
The idea of refurbishing computers is very green, and so is everything else CDI does—from choosing its packaging materials to making sure nothing ever goes to a landfill, Bristow said.
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