The remanufacturing industry is growing quickly. Remanufacturing promotes increased sustainability in the industries that utilize it. But what exactly is remanufacturing?
In a recent chat for USA Manufacturing Hour on Twitter, Obsidian Manufacturing Inc. led a discussion about remanufacturing and its importance to the industry.
What does remanufacturing mean?
The chat began with participants discussing what remanufacturing means to them, while keeping in mind that remanufacturing does not include recycling, repairing, or refurbishing.
Rebecca Prox from Cree Lighting in Wisconsin said, “Remanufacturing is taking a non-functional piece of equipment and making it functional again in a like-new state.”
The team at Obsidian said, “Bingo...”
Kati McDermith, The Manufacturing Hype Girl from Illinois said, “Repurposing and / or retrofitting something to be used again?”
Ruby Rusine from Social Success Marketing in California, “The process of taking a used product and restoring it to like-new condition.”
Nigel T Packer from Pelatis Online in Wales, UK said, “Reman is a process of extending the life of a product or machine by making it as good as new or better. This is undoubtedly the most efficient use of raw materials.”
Gina M. Tabasso from MAGNET in Ohio said, “Putting a piece of equipment back into useful service since it still has life.”
Jasmine Labelle from Velavu in Canada said, “Rebuilding a product? Removing any obsolete components.”
Julia Gardner from Hourly – Insurance & Payroll in California said, “Manufacturing the same product in a slightly different way?”
Jon Browne from Blackbird said, “Taking assets that have completed their life-cycle and give it a new life?”
Dave Meyer from BizzyWeb in Minnesota said, “Remanufacturing is the act of making things better, starting with old things.”
Hosts from Team Obsidian said, “Remanufacturing is a process of making a product or part to at least like-new condition. The products and parts that this can apply to is endless!”
They continued, “According to the Remanufacturing Industries Council, it is when previously sold, leased, used, worn, remanufactured, or non-functional product or part is returned to a like-new, same-as-when-new, or better-than-when-new condition from both a quality and performance perspective, through a controlled, reproducible, and sustainable process.”
Next, participants then went on the discuss the 12 sectors that remanufacturing applies to.
Prox said, “The only one I know of is machinery because that's the one I was involved with in the past.”
The team at Obsidian said, “2/2 with correct answers today!”
Meaghan Ziemba from Mavens of Manufacturing in Illinois said, “Automotive.”
Tabasso said, “For sure automotive, heavy equipment and aerospace.”
Kirsten Austin from DCSC Inc in Missouri said, “I'm going to cheat and say Arter grinders since that's what I know about.”
Rusine said, “Anything related to manufacturing? Maybe products for consumption?”
Sue Nordman from Obsidian Manufacturing in Illinois said, “Machinery.”
Gardner said, “Can't wait to find out!”
Brett from FreightPop in California said, “A few guesses: Agriculture, Automotive, and Construction?”
Meyer said, “Tooling, recycling, electrical? Spitballing here”
Packer said, “I have been involved with Reman in the farming machinery sector. I have seen vehicles go around a few times, from new on big farms - Reman, to smaller farms reman to export for poorer economies. Older vehicles work best, the modern ones need computers to fix.”
Browne said, “Medical device. It's actually super interesting use-case. An entire Stryker facility was dedicated to this remanufacturing. They would require sampling every single piece going out the door.”
Hosts from Team Obsidian said, “Aerospace, Automotive, Consumer Products, Electrical Apparatus, Heavy Duty Equipment, Information Technology, Locomotive Systems, Machinery, Medical Equipment, Office Furniture, Restaurant Equipment, Tires”
They added, “If you guessed any of these sectors, you get a gold star!”
The Importance of Remanufacturing
The group them shared why they think remanufacturing in important.
Tabasso said, “Saves money and keeps things out of landfills.”
Prox said, “Can we say recycle here? When I was in the motors/drives biz, it was to save money, use what was usable, fix what was fixable, and avoid problems such as not being able to get parts for new machinery.
VirtuDesk said, “To conserve materials, lessen waste, save money, and put them to good use.”
Rusine said, “Sustainability.”
Meyer said, “It's cheaper, it's faster, and doggone it, it's better for the environment!”
Nordman said, “Because it resists a throw-away economy and supports a circular economy. It’s all about using everything as long as we can before recycling or disposing.”
Pavel Stepanov from VirtuDesk said, “To save money on materials and conserve resources.”
FreightPOP said, “Remanufacturing gives companies the ability to reduce their carbon footprint! Less equipment is thrown away, which means less waste (and usually that means saving more).”
Nordman said, “Because it resists a throw-away economy and supports a circular economy. It’s all about using everything if we can before recycling or disposing.”
Packer said, “From an accounting perspective, the value of capital equipment is depreciated over time. Companies repurchase new machines to offset against tax. This is a waste and not environmentally friendly. Change needed in tax rules and accounting.”
He continued, “There is a downside, Smaller companies who do not have the capital budgets would lose the opportunity to get Reman equipment at reasonable prices.”
Hosts from Team Obsidian said, “Remanufacturing provides a Conservation of Materials, Reduced Energy Consumption, Reduced Waste, and Reduced Costs & Lower Prices. It is a form of manufacturing that provides a sustainable way to continue the production of weathered machines, materials, parts, and more.”
They added, “There are a few direct benefits to remanufacturing but the overall benefit is it provides a sustainable way to make products and parts new again.”
The participants were then asked how they think a product is remanufactured to be in better-than-when-new condition.
Tabasso said, “Because less energy and materials are used.”
Rusine said, “No idea. I'll leave this one to the experts.”
Michele Riccetto from Brash Inc in Canada said, “Keeping up with the trends! If there’s new norms or tech that could make the product better - use it!”
FreightPOP said, “You can see what parts have really worn down over years of use, along with any inefficiencies/parts that could be improved. Then you can customize it and rebuild it to be even better than it was new because it is tailored to your specific needs!”
Meyer said, “You can improve common weak spots, strengthen wear parts based on actual usage, and use existing materials.”
Nordman said, “That’s when innovation steps in–applying what we have learned since its original manufacture date.”
Browne said, “New added feature, software/hardware update, repolishing, new motors, maybe even just a deep-clean. Would taking massive machinery and using it for parts be under the umbrella of reman?”
Hosts from Team Obsidian said, “The product involves engineering that install potential updates and improvements from the product was originally manufactured”
Fitting into the Mold
Participants next shared their thoughts on how remanufacturing fit into the mold of a circular economy.
Tabasso said, “Oh, I think I answered this on the last question. Saves energy and raw materials because takes less of both of these to remanufacture than to make something new.”
Prox said, “This is my easy answer: What goes into circulation can come back for recirculation.”
Packer said, “I grew up in a circular economy. we called it "Make do and Mend" It is good to see us return, in some quarters, to this sustainable mindset.”
VirtuDesk said, “It encourages reusing and regenerating existing items, materials, and resources. Used products are restored to their former condition in remanufacturing, frequently with the addition of updated components, and then offered as new products.”
Meyer said, “The more we can reuse and repurpose the more our output stays within the economy. It's a big win.”
Nordman said, “It fits the mold because it’s based on the idea of using something for as long as possible by restoring the item.”
Rusine said, “It is a key element of the circular economy, which emphasizes the efficient use of materials and resources to reduce waste and preserve resources. (from my research).”
Hosts from Team Obsidian said, “A circular economy focuses on processes that are “restorative or regenerative by design, enables resources used in such processes and activities to maintain their highest value for as long as possible, and aims for the elimination of waste through the superior design of materials, products, and systems (including business models)”. This fits remanufacturing perfectly.”
To wrap up the chat, participants discussed some of the opportunities for a career in remanufacturing.
Tabasso said, “Engineering, operations, robotics, machining, welding.”
Rusine said, “I'm sure there's a lot. I just don't know the other details.”
Meyer said, “I'd bet there's as many opportunities as industries served. Wherever a product or consumable can be reused, improved and innovated, there's a need for remanufacturing.”
Hosts from Team Obsidian said, “Remanufacturing is a fast-growing industry, currently providing 180,000 jobs in the United States and 450,000 jobs worldwide. Jobs can be in the remanufacturing itself as a machine operator, engineering, or even as a salesperson or in marketing. With businesses focusing on remanufacturing processes, any career within the manufacturing business world can be found in remanufacturing”
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