Development of a methodology to establish a component hierarchy for remanufacturing solutions for complex mechanical assemblies

Ridley, Sara and Ijomah, Winifred (2010) Development of a methodology to establish a component hierarchy for remanufacturing solutions for complex mechanical assemblies. In: APMS 2010 International Conference: Competitive and Sustainable Manufacturing, Products and Services., 2010-10-11 - 2010-10-13.

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    Research into effective remanufacturing is recently new and is often concentrated on ensuring that the design of new products to market considers the reuse and reclaim after use. However, the pressure on landfill is already high and remanufacturing solutions are required for products currently at the end of their useful life. The vast majority of these items were produced without consideration of an end-of-life strategy. Remanufacturers are often not the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) but may be third-party contract remanufacturers or independent remanufacturers. OEMs are often very protective of their intellectual property and will not share information even with their contracted partners [1]. Consequently, successful remanufacture is often complicated by the need to “reverse engineer” (often by the disassembly and measurement of new purchased core) a product owing to a lack of available technical information. This can have a significant impact on the speed to market of a remanufactured product. Research [1] has shown that one of the key indicators for remanufacture is a short lead-time to market. This has been partly addressed by research into establishing the viability of remanufacture, however the complex mathematical models developed [2, 3, 4, 5], usually based on remanufacturing costs, do not seem to have been widely adopted by industry. There is a paucity of research into the business of remanufacturing once the initial decision to remanufacture is made and in particular into the order in which remanufacturers should concentrate their efforts. Empirical evidence together with the author’s experience working for a remanufacturer, who is both an OEM and contract remanufacturer, suggests that timely remanufacture of complex assemblies is often jeopardised by the unexpected need to develop remanufacturing solutions for individual components. These components are often relatively minor in the overall assembly but their importance is elevated when a new remanufacturing solution is required. The majority of focus is usually placed onto large, high-value components, although this may not always be the most efficient use of resource. Remanufacturers have grown used to developing innovative in-house solutions to problems but the time taken and the cost involved can threaten a viable remanufacturing programme.