Owners of heavy equipment such as plant and vehicles are used to shouldering a huge financial burden for purchase, maintenance and replacement of equipment that has reached end of life.
While we’re all used to the "three Rs" – reduce, reuse, recycle – in our personal lives, there’s now a fourth "r" to add for commercial equipment – remanufacture.
Many people confuse remanufacture with recycling, where old equipment is broken down to its constituent materials so that these can be recycled into new products. But remanufacture is actually a process of stripping equipment to its bare shell, completely cleaning and overhauling it by repairing or replacing worn and damaged parts. Parts may be replaced new, or from another piece of old equipment.
This is not like buying second hand equipment, however. The remanufactured equipment promises to function "as new," and is constructed and tested to new original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards and typically comes with full product warranty and performance guarantee. Remanufacture also uses much less energy than the original manufacturing process, a plus for those businesses seeking to reduce their carbon footprint.
Remanufacturing is suitable for equipment used across a range of industries. It has been applied to engines, compressors, large computer systems, trucks/tractors/aircraft and medical equipment.
Service provider Recom Engineering supports the commercial air conditioning and refrigeration industry with remanufactured equipment and associated services.
It remanufactures refrigeration and air conditioning compressors using aluminium, copper and steel parts from retired or broken compressors.
Peter Frey of Recom Engineering says the implications for industry are huge.
"The financial side alone is just one aspect – although significant, as remanufactured equipment is obviously a lot cheaper than buying new.
"But there are so many other aspects – reduced volume of materials to landfill, reduced energy use in reclaiming materials from old equipment in order to make it into new, less greenhouse gases from transporting new equipment from its point of manufacture to its point of installation."
A life cycle assessment conducted by the Curtin University of Technology in 2010 concluded that remanufactured compressors produce a staggering 89% to 93% less greenhouse gas emissions than those associated with a new (OEM) compressor.
Frey says more OEMs are embracing remanufacturing, but says that industry must drive demand to really force equipment manufacturers to prioritise remanufacture.
For more information, attend ARBS 2012 exhibition, to be held in Melbourne May 7 – 9 May, and visit the Recom stand and Peter Frey will put you in touch with local industry associations, manufacturers and suppliers who serve your market.