When you think about recycling, you’re apt to think about everyday items such as newspapers, aluminum cans or plastic bottles. Conversely, heavy-duty machinery probably isn’t the first thing that pops in your mind when it comes to making the old new again.
That could change soon. The remanufacturing market has plenty of momentum behind it, and it will only continue to grow along with the demand for eco-friendly and cost-effective machinery production.
Here is a quick look at why rebuilding and repurposing older parts is making the world of machinery greener.
1. It Saves Energy
With energy consumption at an all-time high, it helps to conserve where you can. Remanufacturing is one huge way to do that.
Take the automotive industry. Rebuilt engines require just 50 percent of the energy and roughly 67 percent of the labor that it takes to produce brand new engines. Also, remanufactured auto parts stay out of the resmelting process longer, which saves millions of barrels of oil annually.
The energy savings are already tangible and significant. The annual energy saved from remanufacturing is equal to the power generated by five nuclear power plants, or more than 10 million barrels of crude oil.
The good thing is those numbers are likely to increase as remanufacturing becomes more widespread.
2. It Reduces Waste
Like recycling of any kind, remanufacturing machines from used parts helps minimize the amount of parts that go to waste.
Bearings are a ubiquitous necessity in engineering. The old way of thinking was that bearings have one finite life. Once it’s worn out, a whole new bearing is needed. That’s no longer necessarily the case.
In fact, bearings with more than 30 percent of remaining service life can be remanufactured, diminishing the need to discard it completely. Overall, remanufacturing bearings increases their life cycle by more than 50 percent, which adds up quickly considering how widely they are used around the world.
Bearings are just one example. Thousands more can be found in the construction industry — more than 7,000 parts are replaced in the process of remanufacturing earthmoving machinery.
This doesn’t mean old parts from broken down machines are collected and combined to make one “new” machine. In remanufacturing, the parts are cleaned, updated and refurbished so their functionality is on par with new parts. The process certainly takes time and energy, but, in most cases, it takes far less energy than producing an all-new part.
3. It Saves Another Kind of Green
Not only does industrial remanufacturing make the world a greener place, it provides more green — as in cash on the barrelhead — to companies that utilize the concept.
Remanufactured parts, equipment and machinery cost less than those that are newly produced. The savings vary based on the industry you’re looking at, whether it’s automotive or construction machinery.
For those who use construction machinery from the manufacturer Caterpillar, remanufactured components cost 75 percent of what a new component costs. That’s a significant savings that makes an impact over time, especially considering how expensive this type of machinery can be.
Not only can remanufactured machinery save businesses money, it can help them meet their environmental goals by reducing energy use and waste levels.
4. It Builds a More Sustainable World
Remanufactured parts are already big business. In just the automotive industry alone, the remanufactured parts market will be worth some $140 billion by 2020. It could be an even bigger market if automakers focused on remanufacturing even more, but it’s a significant start nonetheless.
This is a good thing for the future of sustainability. If the world’s largest manufacturers can help save both money and the environment by repurposing previously used components, it sends the message that individuals can do the same. The end result could be a world that consumes less energy and produces less waste.
In the end, one would hope energy conservation and waste reduction would be enough motivation to convince companies to embrace remanufacturing. The added fact that remanufacturing can save money may be the tipping point that moves this idea into the mainstream for the foreseeable future.