Industry Insight- Remanufactured transmissions bring benefits to fleets

Canadian customers have new choices when it comes to remanufactured transmissions, as Eaton brought its FLEX Reman program to the Canadian market in early January.

Customers can now select from two tiers of Eaton Factory Remain products: standard reman transmissions with clutch housings and FLEX reman transmissions without clutch housings.

“We were looking for one transmission, covering more individual parts and we made it easier to do business with our customers,” Jack Rutty, operations manager, remanufacturing for Eaton, told Truck News in an interview. “We took some content off as well, such as the clutch housing. A lot of times our customers like to use their clutch housing and by taking it off, you can lower the price a little bit as well.”

“FLEX eliminates the need to stock the entire portfolio of Eaton replacement transmissions yet still allows participants to maintain a healthy inventory with a wide range of available torque ratings for multiple trucking applications,” said Bill Fouch, manager, aftermarket marketing, Eaton. “Fleets also benefit from the FLEX program’s competitive pricing and enhanced access to the many models that are available through the program.”

Eaton’s offering same-day and nextday shipments from distribution centers in Airdrie, Alta., Moncton, N.B. and Ottawa and Brampton, Ont.

Rutty said the remanufacturing of mechanical transmissions continues to gain popularity, as customers enjoy cost savings over replacing transmissions with brand new ones, without compromising in reliability. But he also cautioned remanufacturing isn’t the same as rebuilding.

“You have very similar dependability on a reman product (compared to new),” Rutty said. “We replace a lot of components every time – input shafts, bearings, synchronizers, air system components – a lot of these wear items we replace 100% of the time. All that stuff is new, so you get a truly remanufactured transmission. Rebuilders will re-use some of those items we replace 100% of the time.”

When a transmission is received by Eaton for remanufacturing – National Remanufacturing Centre in Ottawa handles this in Canada – it gets completely disassembled. All bearings, gears and shafts are cleaned and the grey iron is burned and blasted. Parts are then inspected to determine whether or not they are acceptable to re-use. Missing or unsatisfactory parts are replaced and the transmission gets completely rebuilt.

In addition to the cost savings enjoyed by customers, remanufacturing also has an environmental benefit.

“I can tell you, any parts we do not re-use, we recycle,” said Rutty.

If using a rebuilder, make sure to inquire about the warranty coverage. Remanufactured transmissions are backed by a warranty that’s typically about a year shorter than brand new. However, some rebuilt transmissions have inferior coverage, which can lead to disappointment if a problem with the transmission arises.

Rebuilt transmissions from third-party suppliers also frequently use non-genuine parts, Eaton warns. It has found that some rebuilders use just 35-40% genuine parts. Why is that an issue? The parts within a transmission were all designed to work in concert with each other.

And using genuine parts also affords the opportunity to get the latest design enhancements built into a remanufactured transmission, so effectively the transmission can be better post-manufacture than it was before, Eaton claims.

The remanufacturing of automated manual transmissions has yet to take off, but Rutty said he’s not sure why.

It’s a viable option but so far the growth in remanufacturing has remained in the mechanical transmission segment. Volvo, however, is stepping up remanufacturing activities on its I-Shift AMT. Sherman Williams, remanufacturing director with Volvo Trucks, said Volvo is transitioning its rebuilt activities on the I-Shift AMT to a remanufacturing process.

“It is becoming the accepted practice that provides the best possible upside to a transmission repair event,” Williams said of remanufacturing.

One of the biggest benefits is that “We provide the highest quality with all the updates for the least amount of downtime with a Volvo factory reman unit,” Williams explained.

“It has the best warranty coverage also and are on the shelf at all our parts distribution centers. This is the best way to go.”