DIRK ZEDLER: Of course, a manufacturer that produces tens of thousands of bicycles is dealing with much more material than our medium-sized service company. With the increase in durability sustainability is already a central part of our work. Our advantage is that through our work as loss adjustors we see exactly what damage occurs to a bicycle in practice. If certain types of damage recur, we develop machines and procedures to reproduce them in the test. Manufacturers are then in a position to take countermeasures. In most cases, this cannot be realized immediately for the entire range, but within two to four years, the products have reached a stage where the damage no longer occurs. Making products more durable is the core of our work.
Is it that what manufacturers want? That means that they will sell less.
Yes, that is actually in demand, even without much environmental thought. Firstly, certainly no one wants to run the risk that a customer gets seriously injured or dies with a failing product. Secondly, the dealer must be satisfied, otherwise he will have to deal with complaints. And thirdly, the reputation of a brand is quickly ruined with the end customer.
Isn't the improvement from generation to generation a very long way to a durable product?
We have certainly helped to accelerate the improvements in durability enormously. As we make our testing procedures transparent, some suppliers in Asia copy them. That’s what they describe in their product description as “zedeler testing”. Kind of funny, but this has established as the term for testing above the minimum requirements. And it already avoids a few bad products. Of course, we are always developing the procedures further and then perform the tests state-of-the-art. I am convinced that we avoid with our work a lot of scrap and waste which in the end ties up the same amount of raw material as a functioning, durable product.
Is the bicycle industry in general on a sustainable path?
I don’t want to judge that in general. Some things are getting better, others worse. Let's put it this way: As a small company, we have proven that you can achieve a lot with little effort. Of course, I feel sad that others with much more money give it so little thought.
The interview was held by: Jörg Spaniol