Make do and mend

Darren Halford examines the benefits of remanufactured automotive parts

During World War II, access to natural resources was incredibly difficult in most European countries. Most countries found that, the effort to build planes, ships and tanks was crippling, creating an urgent need to reuse and remanufacture industrial parts. Beginning with the rebuilding of automotive and truck parts in the 1940s, this gave birth to an entire industry and is now common practice. Here, Darren Halford, sales director of industrial automation supplier European Automation examines the situation 75 years later.

In Europe, the average age of a passenger car is 8.6 and, while some car owners do genuinely love an old banger, others just don’t have the budget to splash out on a brand new vehicle. Instead, these car owners opt to care for and keep their old car for longer. For the automotive industry, the ‘make do and mend’ attitude has raised the demand for remanufactured parts to an all time high.

The term ‘remanufactured’ describes an older or broken device that has been refurbished to meet the standards of an existing, working device. New or rebuilt components replace broken, missing or worn out parts. Remanufacturing doesn’t make the device any less capable; in fact, a properly remanufactured part will function and perform just as well as a brand new part and will normally be indistinguishable from newer devices.

While they are similar, ‘remanufacturing’ shouldn’t be confused with a reusing, repairing, rebuilding or reworking an automotive part. The difference is the definition. The common definition of a remanufactured part is that manufacturers must comply with standardised industrial processes in line with specific technical specifications. These standards provide the end user with peace of mind. The remanufactured part must be given exactly the same warranty as a new part and must clearly identify itself as ‘remanufactured’ with the name of the remanufacturer displayed on it.

During the war effort, remanufactured parts were used as a last resort. But today, there are benefits to remanufacturing that go far beyond providing a solution in the last resort. One benefit is its positive impact on the environment. Remanufacturing benefits the environment in a number of ways, most notably in raw material conservation. Remanufacturing gives a product more than one - if not an endless - lifespan thereby saving materials such as iron, aluminium and copper. In fact, the yearly raw materials saved by remanufacturing worldwide are estimated to be able to fill 155,000 railroad cars, which could form a train more than 1,000 miles long.

Another notable benefit is energy conservation. When compared to new units, remanufacturing reduces the potential of harmful CO2 emissions by 400 kilotons. As automotive parts are kept out of the melting process, millions of barrels of oil are saved. And of course, it’s also much better for your wallet.

Remanufacturing is no longer a last resort for the automotive industry but an entire established industry in its own right. As the costs of new cars continue to sky rocket, the demand for remanufactured parts will continue to rise alongside it.

Darren Halford is sales director of European Automation.