If mines are looking to drive down their waste and improve circularity in their businesses while reducing operational costs, then remanufacturing is a smart move to consider.
The US-based Remanufacturing Industries Council (RIC), an alliance of remanufacturing industry sectors and academic institutions, defines remanufacturing as “a comprehensive and rigorous industrial process by which a previously sold, worn, or non-functional product or component is returned to a ‘like-new’ or ‘better-than-new’ condition and warranted in performance level and quality.”
The RIC lists some of the benefits of remanufacturing as: conservation of materials, which is of increasing importance as raw materials become scarcer and more expensive; reduced energy consumption during manufacturing; reduced waste and associated disposal costs; and lower price for comparable quality.
Remanufacturing should not be confused with refurbishing, which is where defective parts are replaced. In the remanufacturing process, the equipment is completely disassembled, every part is evaluated, and a new, improved version of the equipment is reassembled.
While not mining specific, this article by DFC Diesel explains the difference between rebuilt, remanufactured and refurbished engines, and lists some of their pros and cons.
In the mining industry, many original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) offer a remanufacturing service (often just called ‘reman’) to their customers, including Liebherr, Caterpillar, Komatsu and Hitachi. Compared to buying brand new equipment, remanufacturing is usually cheaper and has a lower environmental footprint due to material and energy savings, but the OEMs say it offers the same reliability and quality as a new product.
The OEM perspective
Liebherr is one OEM that offers remanufacturing services, and the company has established component remanufacturing and repair facilities all over the world to directly support its customers in the mining industry.
Each facility has online access to the latest remanufacturing procedures, technical specifications, standardised tooling and equipment, and the complete range of Liebherr parts specific to each component.
Jeff Rounds, general manager, global remanufacturing and service component production at Liebherr, spoke to me about the company’s services.
“Standardised OEM component repair training further ensures that each component is refurbished efficiently, safely and to the as-new standard,” he said. “Finally, all facilities are regularly inspected and certified according to comprehensive remanufacturing guidelines and standards.”
Rounds added that the ability to offer exchange components and repair services in regional proximity to customers’ operations is essential for delivering high parts availability and short repair cycle times. These are key success factors for equipment operating 24/7 in demanding conditions.
“Each component is inspected, repaired and tested by qualified Liebherr-trained technicians using comprehensive OEM guidelines and specialised tooling in Liebherr-certified facilities to ensure that each remanufactured component performs as-new,” he said.
Rounds explained that depending on the component, the savings from remanufacturing when compared to new are significant – they can be more than 50%. In addition, there can be a 70% or more reduction in carbon emitted in the remanufacturing process compared to the production of a new component.
“Implementing the latest technical improvements is a key part of the component remanufacturing process at Liebherr,” he concluded. “This ensures that customers can continuously benefit from improved performance, reliability and safety each time a component is exchanged.”
You can read more about the remanufacturing process and its benefits in this 2020 feature in Engineering & Mining Journal.
Is remanufacturing something that your company would consider as it works towards lowering its carbon footprint and costs? Have your operations seen additional benefits? Let us know below in the comments…