Pre-processing inspection – a worthwhile activity for remanufacturers

Ridley, Sara and Ijomah, Winifred (2015) Pre-processing inspection – a worthwhile activity for remanufacturers. In: International Conference on Remanufacturing (ICoR 2015), 2015-06-14 - 2015-06-16, RAI Amsterdam.

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Remanufacture, a process to return used product to an "as-new" condition with an equivalent quality, is typically carried out on complex mechanical assemblies as the remaining value in the used product is high. Remanufacturing is often a more efficient reuse strategy than recycling as, in addition to the reduction in landfill and the use of virgin material, it also reduces the amount of energy used in successive applications by removing raw material production and any subsequent manufacturing processes, thus increasing profitability for the remanufacturer. There remain barriers to remanufacturing particularly around the paucity of research into the field. Guide identified that remanufacturers perceive the scarcity of effective remanufacturing tools and techniques as a key threat to the industry. Ijomah quantified these key characteristics on a five-point scale ranging from "Not Significant through to "Critical". The only characteristic rated "critical" by remanufacturers was component inspection. Personal experience and observation of the remanufacturing process has shown that this remanufacturing sub-activity, although it can have significant bearing on overall productivity, is undertaken in a hap-hazard manner based almost purely on experience and guesswork and lacks proper methodologies and tools. This paper presents the results of quantitative doctoral research, conducted in a Caterpillar Remanufacturing UK facility, to establish the relationship between pre-processing inspection and the subsequent remanufacturing process time for returned used products known as cores. It concludes that for components (i.e. cores) having either complex geometry (such as internal ports), a large number of sub-components or that are constructed from, or comprising of, multiple materials, the remanufacturing process is shortened by increased inspection prior to processing. However, these benefits are currently limited by the amount of information that can be gained from the inspection methods used. It describes the practical use of these factors in a decision-making methodology for inspection.