Four master students worked for Roltex from Erembodegem (Aalst) on a business project under the name Retray. Based on circular thinking, the students researched the possibility of giving trays that are functionally still perfect, but which are visually damaged due to intensive use and therefore can no longer serve customers (e.g. hospitals), a second life.


Working on a business project with a group of final-year students from different programmes, practicing technical knowledge, project management skills as well as social skills; that is in a nutshell what the Interdisciplinary Assessment Projects (I-AP) of KU Leuven stand for. Agoria and Flanders Food fulfil the liaison function with the companies.

 

Every autumn, some 50 final-year students from the fields of Commercial Engineering, Commercial Sciences, Industrial Engineering and Environmental and Prevention Management work on more than 10 business projects. We like to highlight the best project. And this academic year, for the very first time in the history of the I-AP there are two!

François de Decker (student Business Engineering from Leuven), Maxime Steenbrugge (student Industrial Engineering from Ghent), Chiel Bourdeaud'huy (student Industrial Engineering from Ghent) and Virgile Le Monnier (student Master International Business Economics & Management from France) worked for Roltex from Erembodegem (Aalst) on a business project under the name Retray.

Based on circular thinking, the students researched the possibility of giving trays that are functionally still perfect, but which are visually damaged due to intensive use and therefore can no longer serve customers (e.g. hospitals), a second life. The other processing option is incineration. The students investigated whether there is a market at humanitarian organisations where those trays can be used as racks. For NGOs, compactness, low transport weight and simplicity of assembly are important criteria. If the racks could be used in tent camps for refugees, this would be an important breakthrough in the circularity of such trays.

The students set to work on this assignment in order to fine-tune the product: which straps can be used to assemble the racks? What are the technical product requirements and which manufacturers can supply these products? Then the students started to work with this information and the logistic flow was mapped to be able to make a price calculation based on this information. This allowed them to go to the current customers, for whom the second life of these trays is also an important aspect. But the students also developed the commercial material to man a stand at the AidEx fair in Brussels. This was crucial for them to gather information from potential customers, the humanitarian organisations.

The project the students worked on was very concrete and clearly defined. According to Karl Huylebroeck, General Manager of Roltex, this is also a necessary condition for a project to succeed in one trimester: "A good definition of what the project entails. The result depends on the information and guidance you give to the students yourself".

The students themselves are full of enthusiasm about the project, about working together, about each other and about their product. Virgile: "In 2 months’ time we built a fully functioning prototype, made a business plan, made a cost calculation, established contacts with potential customers and set up the entire logistics process. Chiel: "By working together, we discovered complementarity. We really needed each other's skills to succeed in this project." François: "Without previous professional experience, it was important to establish good communication with each other and with Roltex. We did succeed in that." Maxime: "We worked well together, but we were not afraid to talk to experts within KU Leuven either."

The project fitted in well with their expectations: entrepreneurship, cooperation, with concrete objectives. They would advise all students to go for I-AP.

Eager to work with such motivated final-year students in October-December 2020: let us know right now!

The students work on business projects in Dutch or English.