infoTECH Feature

November 15, 2013

CXtec's TCDC: Where Used Network Hardware Finds New Life

You know that your network equipment has been in good hands when the distribution center it comes from looks more like a laboratory than a manufacturing facility. This is the case with all CXtec refurbished products, from Cisco (News - Alert) switches and routers to VoIP phones. Take one glance into the 70,000-square foot Technology Certification and Distribution Center, or TCDC, as the CXtec team calls it, and you will see exactly what sets CXtec’s networking equipment apart from the rest in the industry. You’ll also see why it gives CXtec the ability to claim a 99.5 percent reliability rating on its equal2new brand of certified, pre-owned products.

With more than a quarter million items in stock, TCDC is truly a sight to behold. Let’s take a walk through to see exactly what makes this place so special and why the network equipment that emerges is not just equal to new, but better.


Stop! No Static Electricity Allowed!

The first thing that you will notice upon entering TCDC is that electrostatic discharge (ESD) is strictly prohibited and actively monitored. In fact, all employees are required to engage in grounding procedures twice a day to prevent any excess static electricity buildup.

The reason CXtec does not mess around when it comes to ESD prevention is because sensitive electronic equipment is especially prone to damage caused by sparks when two surfaces come into contact with one another. Many experts agree that the majority of network hardware failure can actually be attributed to ESD, which is why TCDC takes no chances.

To prevent ESD from damaging the equipment, all floors are coated with carbon epoxy layers to ensure that friction is not generated when people move equipment around the facility. Additionally, carbon racks are used to ground these products when being transported from station to station.

An Inspection Process Like No Other

The recertification process that equal2new products undergo is one of the toughest in the industry due to the rigorous requirements necessary to meet CXtec’s high standards. It’s like boot camp for your network hardware as the products are inspected, tested, cleaned and refurbished.

The process begins by tagging each piece of hardware with a unique barcode that provides important data about the product. This can be used to pull up information about an item at any time during or after the inspection procedures. This barcode remains on the piece of hardware even after it leaves the distribution center, ensuring that it can always be accessed for future reference.

During the initial inspection, each device is thoroughly examined to guarantee it meets only the highest specifications. If a part is damaged or defective in any way, it will be immediately quarantined and will not continue the process. Only the best pieces are selected to move forward.

According to Frank Kobuszewski (News - Alert), vice president of the technology solutions group at CXtec, the company takes matters into its own hands when it comes to ensuring that products are second to none.

“It’s the quality management system that governs the process,” Kobuszewski said.

CXtec’s quality management system is ISO 9001:2008-certified, ensuring each step in its refurbishing process meets third-party standards.

Counterfeit Hardware Need Not Apply

The experts at TCDC take a hard stance against counterfeit equipment. Each certified technician receives ongoing training on counterfeit identification, including having a collection of up-to-date photos and practices that allow them to detect a counterfeit product, remove it, and quarantine it from their process immediately.

Counterfeit abatement manuals are regularly updated and kept at technicians’ testing stations, along with high-resolution monitors for chip and component comparison down to the solder joints.

The company only sources refurbished products through end-users, trade members and companies who sign a document with specific authenticity guarantees. In 2012, Kobuszewski was even named representative of the Anti-Counterfeit Committee for the Association of Service and Computer Dealers International and the North American Association of Telecommunications Dealers (AscdiNatd).

Data Testing: Stringent Standards

Once a product is declared authentic and structurally sound, then the work really begins. The equal2new certification process entails testing, retesting, and testing again to ensure that once the hardware is installed into your network, it will be completely fail-proof. This includes updating Flash memory and DRAM in addition to making sure that all fans are working properly for cooling purposes.

Each piece of equipment is then tested in real-world conditions, replicating traffic loads and emulating scenarios from a live network environment.

Once each device passes these tests, and all ports are tested and proven to be passing traffic, the hardware is wiped clean and reset to its original factory defaults. By resetting it, any risk of sensitive information is removed.

Next Stop: Quality Control

The TCDC team understands that there are many important facets to providing networking equipment of the highest quality. Before moving on to the shipping station, chassis are dismantled and dusted with air guns to prevent excess grime from building up within the interior. Mangled or bent brackets are replaced during this process as well. Equipment is checked for all essential components, including screws.

After cleaning and refurbishing the equipment, CXtec puts network equipment through additional quality inspections to ensure that all systems function properly. All equipment that passes through this step has been enhanced to look just like brand new product.

Final Stop: The Shipping Center

Even after the equipment makes it through the inspection process, the job is not over yet. The next step is ensuring that all equipment is clearly labeled and capable of reaching its proper destination. Boxes are equipped with labels featuring serial numbers and part numbers for easy reference, including MAC addresses for VoIP phones. Then, foam-in-place packaging and elastomeric film is used to mold directly to the contour of equipment, ensuring that it will not slide around or be damaged during the shipping process.

One of the greatest sights of all at TCDC is seeing hundreds of thousands of previously-owned pieces of network equipment get restored and redistributed to businesses throughout the world. According to Kobuszewski, just because a manufacturer declares a product end-of-sale or end-of-life, it doesn’t mean the product has lost all worth. This is what CXtec strives to promote.

“We want to give customers options,” Kobuszewski said. “More than half the time, customers upgrade because manufacturers end-of-life it. It has nothing to do with the fact that customers need to get away from it. Equal2new is between the used and new market. We have our own space there and along with that brand comes a whole lot of different stuff that people can’t match.”

Edited by Blaise McNamee

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