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Call2Recycle manages industrywide e-bike battery recycling program with Power Pages

Headshot of article author Sameer Bhangar

Banner image for Call2Recycle story. Consulting partner = Efoqus, number of employees = 50+, industry = Nonprofit, country = United States

Call2Recycle is a non-profit organization operating for over 25 years in the United States with a mission to recycle a range of batteries. By directly serving consumers and more than 200 battery and battery-powered product companies, they help ensure batteries stay out of landfills. The battery world was steady for many years until several years ago when electrification became a focal point for the economy such as electric vehicles, electric bikes etc. Call2Recycle’s previous platform could not keep up with the change in pace for recycling of these newer batteries and to meet the challenges of the present and the future, they invested in a new platform that could grow and manage the challenges at scale.

Call2Recycle worked with EFOQUS, an expert in deploying Dynamics 365 solutions. They initially went live by combining Dynamics 365 Business Central as the ERP solution to manage and automate customer billing, and Dynamics 365 Sales to manage its end-to-end sales processes. All employees now use Dynamics 365 across operations, finance, services and sales, and more. These staff include customer support who track customer history, operations management who oversee fulfillment and materials collection, regional program managers who oversee their leads, and senior leadership who monitors dashboards for organizational health.

The next step was for Call2Recycle to enable electric bicycle (e-bike) retailers across the United States by working with the bicycle industry to launch the first industrywide e-bike battery collection and recycling program in the U.S. In this article we look at how EFOQUS helped them extend their existing Dynamics 365 solution architecture by implementing Power Pages to facilitate the enrollment and training of e-bike retailers.

Watch a summary video of Business Central and Power Platform

Business scenario and challenge

The increased popularity of e-bikes in the United States introduced a new challenge of how to safely and responsibly recycle e-bike batteries. In an effort to prevent e-bike batteries from ending up in landfills, PeopleForBikes and Call2Recycle created an industry-wide e-bike battery recycling program that was announced towards the end of 2021. Call2Recycle administers the program by providing recycling kits, transportation and logistics, safety materials and rider education. To keep up with this new initiative and accommodate constantly evolving needs of the program, Call2Recycle knew that they needed a system that can scale overtime.

“We needed to invest in a whole new platform, something that could actually grow with us and allow us to meet these challenges at scale.”

– Leo Raudys, CEO, Call2Recycle

How the program works

How the e-bike recycling battery program works

Overview of the e-bike battery recycling program.

When an e-bike owner’s battery reaches its end-of life, they can visit a participating e-bike retailer who will assess, package, and ship the e-bike battery to recycling facilities. The e-bike battery is sorted and processed to recover usable materials which are used to manufacture new products. Recycling e-bike batteries helps keep the environment, people, and property safe by ensuring those batteries are properly handled and returned to the proper recycling stream rather than ending up in landfills.

Program requirements

Call2Recycle needed a system in place for the program that could handle the following requirements

  1. Enrollment of participating e-bike retailers
  2. Manage online safety training of the e-bike retailers to identify end-of-life and damaged/defective batteries
  3. Provide continuous benefits for the e-bike retailers such as battery collection kits, education materials, and dedicated program support with their e-bike customer success team

Power Pages Solution – E-bike battery recycling program

Call2Recycle continued their partnership with EFOQUS to build an external site using Power Pages. This approach provided built-in integration with Dynamics 365 Sales and allowed them to extend their order and shipment processes within Dynamics 365 Business Central. They also utilized the built-in Power Pages features such as external identity authentication with Azure. The integrated low-code approach enabled them to go from an idea to a live working external site in under four months. This would have taken a lot longer if they had built it as a custom website. The low-code approach has enabled them to rapidly add and change capabilities as the needs of the e-bike battery recycling program continue to evolve. This ability to adapt to the changing needs of battery recycling was important to Call2Recycle’s CEO, Leo Raudys.

“We could be presented with an opportunity to do something new in the battery recycling space that we did not anticipate. Microsoft allows us to pivot seamlessly because it seems like the technology opportunities are endless. This is extremely important because we don’t always know what we’re going to need tomorrow.”

– Leo Raudys, CEO, Call2Recycle

E-bike retailers use Power Pages to invite additional staff to take online training on how to safely pack and ship e-bike batteries, schedule collection of their e-bike batteries, and receive program support. The process works as follows:

  1. Enroll online into Call2Recycle’s e-bike battery recycling program.
  2. After enrollment, required online training is to be completed by e-bike retailers to determine when a battery reaches end-of-life packaging or damaged/defective packaging.
  3. Upon completion of their online training, Call2Recycle automatically ships an end-of-life recycling kit to the e-bike retailers.
  4. E-bike retailers can order additional collection kits, schedule shipments of e-bike batteries, and order promotional materials to help educate riders at the time of purchase.

Power Pages E-Bike Battery Recycling Program

e-bike retailers enroll into e-bike battery recycling program using Power Pages.

Onboarding insights with Power BI and Training History in Dynamics 365

Training progress of e-bike retailers are monitored through a Power BI dashboard which surfaces the training history data from Dynamics 365 Sales.

Summary of benefits and impact

With the addition of Power Pages to their existing Dynamics 365 implementation, Call2Recycle now has visibility and management of the participating e-bike retailers. A summary of benefits is as follows:

  • Enabled a secure and scalable portal that can be rapidly expanded as requirements for external facing business processes continue to evolve
  • Enrollment into the program is available 24/7
  • E-bike retailers can monitor their own online training progress
  • Over 1,500 e-bike retailers have been enrolled to date with 75% having completed the online training
  • Rich insights into the site collection of the participating e-bike retailers

“We entered into this e-bike battery initiative with the bicycle industry in late 2021 and here we are in early 2022 and we’re already rolling out collection sites at thousands of independent bike shops.”

– Leo Raudys, CEO, Call2Recycle

Solution architecture

Summary of the solution architecture as follows

  • Power Pages is the front-end platform for the e-bike retailers to enroll and complete online training for the program, request for recycling kits and receive program support. The built-in Azure Active Directory authentication is used by external e-bike retailers to sign into the portal.
  • Power BI dashboard provides greater visibility of the reach of their program across the participating e-bike retailers and performance insights on training progress.
  • Power Automate cloud flows manage the record creation and update of e-bike retailers in Dynamics 365 Sales and Dynamics 365 Business Central for their program participation and training.
  • Azure Functions is used to retrieve the training data from the online training platform to update Dynamics 365 Sales training history of the e-bike retailers.
  • Dynamics 365 Sales is the end-to-end system which manages the enrolment, onboarding, and training history of the e-bike retailers.
  • Dynamics 365 Business Central is the end-to-end system which handles the shipping of recycling kits on completion of the online training.

Solution Architecture for e-bike battery recycling program

High level solution architecture of the e-bike battery recycling portal with direct integration to Dynamics 365.

E-bike battery recycling program process

How e-bike retailers can enroll into the program to complete online training followed by receiving their first end-of-life recycling kit and dedicated support from Call2Recycle.

This low-code development solution has resulted in Call2Recycle to extend their existing business critical systems by utilizing Power Pages. With the flexibility in adjusting the portal as changes in the program evolve, Call2Recycle can adapt and scale in response to the changes and continue to be leaders in consumer recycling.

“One of the important things for us and for Call2Recycle was making sure that not only did we come up with this solution that fit today, but also something that they could grow with.”

– Lars Agger, Managing Partner, EFOQUS

Looking ahead

With battery technology driving increased demand for diverse battery management solutions, Call2Recycle plans to evolve its online capabilities to support a wide range of industry sectors and customers.

“The Microsoft platform allows us to quickly adapt as we need it – which is critical for our long-term success.”

– Leo Raudys, CEO, Call2Recycle

About the partner

EFOQUS is a Microsoft Partner based in Canada and are experts in deploying Dynamics 365 solutions. They have delivered to customers all over the world and have years of experience in building Dynamics 365 Business Central apps. They have expanded beyond their traditional mindset of building in Dynamics 365 by integrating the Power Platform to offer holistic solutions to their customers. They have recognised that by designing solutions using low-code development with the Power Platform, it amplifies the technological capabilities beyond the internal boundaries of Dynamics 365.

“We have discovered that we can’t just live inside the bubble of Dynamics 365 Business Central, we have the entire big bubble of Microsoft available. We now utilize a lot of the Power Platform components which truly shows the depth and width of the ecosystem.”

– Erik Hougaard, Managing Partner, EFOQUS

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Power Fx: Error handling graduates to preview

We are thrilled to announce that the long-time experimental feature Formula-level error handling has moved forward to preview. As a result, you and your end users will enjoy higher reliability and more transparency about what is happening in your apps. It’s a huge step. Adding error handling to an existing language turned out to be a very tall order, touching almost everything, from data types, to functions, to the runtime. Thank you for all of your support, feedback, and patience as we got this done. What does it mean for you? Your apps will more reliably detect and report errors.You can write blank/null values to a database.You can detect and replace errors with the IsError, IsErrorOrBlank, and IfError functions.You can control error reporting and logging at a central location with App.OnError.You can create and throw your own custom errors with the Error function. Error handling is a big change in behavior. 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