Industry Insight | Reman engines: powering cost efficiency and quality

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By Alex Crissey, ASSOCIATE EDITOR, FLEET EQUIPMENT MAGAZINE

When making a major purchase, in almost every instance, there is the option for a used, refurbished or remanufactured version. It can be a great option for those looking for a more cost-focused solution. Of course, trucks are the lifeblood of any successful fleet—it’s an investment and a livelihood, and a fleet manager needs to be confident when investing in a remanufactured engine, transmission or axle. To build that confidence, he or she needs to understand the remanufacturing process, the quality of the parts being used and the warranty options that come with it. With this in mind, Fleet Equipment spoke with the major engine manufacturers to get the full scoop on what fleet managers can expect when looking for reman options.

“Any engine or transmission can be remanufactured,” says Betsy Ballard, director of product development and growth for Detroit Reman. “However, when it comes to engines in particular, the older the better. There is more core material available for older models and a larger supply of component parts to go with them. In addition, older engines are more mechanical and therefore easier to manage and test compared to newer engines that have more complex electronics.”

Ballard went on to explain that there is also greater knowledge of older engines since time has uncovered common aftermarket quality issues or failures; the readily available information about these problems makes them easy to fix during the remanufacturing process. “That said,” she added, “with the exception of low volume builds, most engines and transmissions are good reman candidates.”

“In addition to a cost savings, reman provides products for customers to service their trucks deep into the product lifecycle,” says Scott Pond, a product manager for Navistar. “Most manufacturers of engines and transmissions do not continue to make new assemblies once production stops, thereby making reman attractive.

“In addition to engines and engine components under Navistar’s ReNEWed brand,” Pond continues, “we offer a wide breadth of reman products. These include transmissions, brakes components, clutches, rear differentials, engine components, and aftertreatment.”

Cummins’ reman program, ReCon, offers most of the company’s mid-range and heavy-duty engines as options, and remanufactures them with 100% genuine Cummins parts. According to Shawn Zwicker, Cummins director of new and ReCon products management, global operations, there are four questions that must be answered when the company considers adding a particular engine to its ReCon portfolio:

  1. From an engineering standpoint, can the engine be remanufactured? This question investigates if there is enough material in the large castings to allow them to be re-machined while meeting original factory tolerances and structural integrity.
  2. Is there enough population of a particular platform or model in the field to justify the release of a ReCon version?
  3. Is that population being used in an application that will reach the end of life of the original engine?
  4. Finally, is that population in a location that allows the import of ReCon products, and is the return of core logistically feasible?
  5. On an individual level, Zwicker explained that each engine must pass a core inspection with the following criteria before it is remanufactured:

  6. The core must be in “out-of-frame” condition and complete with applicable component parts or any acceptable up-rate.
  7. Component castings are not visibly cracked, broken or damaged, unless allowable under Cummins’ component core inspection criteria.
  8. The core is not damaged by non-operational causes such as rust, rough handling or fire.
  9. The oil pan is free from all oils and fluids except for normal drainage that occurs during shipment.
  10. The engine core returned with competitive turbocharger core is acceptable with an additional charge.
  11. As for other OEM remanufacturing options: Volvo remanufactures its D11, D12, D13 and D16 engines and I-Shift transmissions. The reman process involves giving the engines new bearings, gaskets, liners, o-rings, piston rings, seals and bushings and, as needed, cylinder heads and block and cylinder head covers, oil pumps, connecting and push rods, rocker assemblies and crankshafts.

The Mack Trucks engine reman operation, known as REMACK, offers E6, E7, E-TECH and ASET engines and Maxitorque T200 or T300 five- to 18-speed transmissions. All necessary parts and components of both the engines and transmissions are tested and remanufactured or replaced.

According to Ballard, Detroit Reman currently offers gas and heavy-duty diesel engines and components, manual and automatic transmissions, turbochargers, engine fuel systems and electronics such as industrial electronic components, wiring harnesses, engine control modules and EGR components.

The reman process

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“The most important element of any remanufacturing process starts with core,” Navistar’s Pond explains. “We do all we can to corral engine cores that may become a reman program. Our most popular remanufactured engine parts include fuel injectors, turbochargers, high-pressure oil pumps, aftertreatment devices, and engine assemblies.”

Cummins’ Zwicker gives a walkthrough of the reman process:

“Upon arrival at the factory, returned cores enter our remanufacturing process designed to create ReCon products for use in lasting, reliable equipment repairs,” he begins. “Every component is completely disassembled and cleaned, using sophisticated cleaning technology designed to remove debris without removing metal. Once clean, parts are inspected, using high-tech equipment and processes to ensure every part meets Cummins’ exacting standards. A thousandth of an inch in variation from the standard may be all that separates a good part from a bad part.”
Zwicker goes on to say that after going through the cleaning and inspection process, the parts that don’t meet Cummins’ standards are evaluated to determine whether they can be salvaged or need to be scrapped. Any worn parts, he says, are replaced exclusively with new genuine Cummins parts.

“While Cummins’ goal is to reuse parts where possible, we will not compromise on quality,” he continued. “Components are reassembled in a factory setting, where trained Cummins technicians follow documented and fail-safe processes. Whenever possible, the latest design changes, material improvements and performance upgrades approved by Cummins new product research and development engineers are incorporated into ReCon products. ReCon components and engines give you real value for your money and are an environmentally responsible choice.
Zwicker points out that remanufacturing a part using the old product as a core uses up to 85% less energy and natural resources than producing the same part new, adding that “Cummins remanufacturing processes guarantee the highest-quality parts because they are completely restored and qualified in a factory environment.”

Evolving technology

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That technology continues to move at an exponential rate is true in basically every field, and remanufacturing is no exception. So what can future reman buyers expect to see that might not be available today?

“Engine changes such as aftertreatment systems have made remanufacturing more complex,” Detroit’s Ballard says. “As changes become more frequent in the industry, it becomes increasingly difficult and takes much more time to find correct core components. In general, the shorter the lifecycle of an engine, the less desirable it is from a remanufacturing standpoint.

“However,” she continues, “the changes themselves do not change our remanufacturing process. Our process remains the same, no matter the age or model of an engine.”

Cummins’ Zwicker sees reman parts becoming an even bigger part of the truck market in years to come.

“As customers continue to streamline their businesses, it drives further acceptance of remanufactured products because of the value it can bring them to the point that they are becoming the preferred choice over newer products,” he says. “One recent example is the bill signed by President Obama in late 2015 mandating the federal fleet spec remanufactured products over new products—a stamp of approval at the highest level.”

Warranty Options

“Detroit Reman offers a national one-year, unlimited mile warranty on components and a one-year, 100,000 mile warranty for engines sold over the counter and installed by anyone other than an authorized Detroit location,” Ballard says. “Through our StepUP Overhaul (engine) and PowerPacks (fuel injector) programs, the customer can get anywhere from a one-year, 100,000 mile warranty up to a three-year, 300,000 mile warranty on overhauls and remanufactured engines and two-year, 150,000 mile warranty on injectors.”

“Cummins offers the same warranty on ReCon engines and components as current products such as the ISX15, which offers a two-year, 250,000-mile warranty—same as buying new,” Zwicker says. In most cases, he adds, extended coverage plans can be purchased as well, which can extend the total coverage period to up to five years.

With a few exceptions, Navistar’s running engine warranty is two years with unlimited miles, Pond shares.