Overhauling the Outdated; SRC ELECTRONICS
The concept of a warranty is fairly straightforward: you purchase an item with a warranty, then five, 10 or 15 years down the line, a part breaks or is worn down, you send the item back, and it returns to you as good as new (or sometimes better than new). That last part, the coming back to you as good as new, is where remanufacturing comes in. Traditionally, product parts from out in the field are recovered, revamped and turned around for a second life. Springfield ReManufacturing Corp. (SRC) and its affiliated companies remanufacture products ranging from diesel, natural gas and gasoline engines to water and hydraulic pumps, among other things. SRC’s latest purchase, Ciona Technologies, LLC—now called SRC Electronics, Inc.—takes the conceptof remanufacturing to an underserved market: electronics. Most companies will claim 25 to 30 years of support for their products, but many electronic parts incorporated into those products are only produced new for five to seven years, leaving remanufacturing as the best option for renewing and upgrading those parts as they become outdated or obsolete.
Ciona started five years ago in Springfield as a fast-growing startupjoint venture with an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) focused on remanufacturing electronic components for commercial vehicles and agricultural, construction and forestry equipment. “We basically take a part that’s failed out in the field, and we remanufacture it back to its original specification, or we enhance or upgrade the product to incorporate design improvements, if that’s an opportunity,” says Mike Finan, general manager of SRC Electronics, Inc.
Now that the company is under the SRC umbrella, the company is exploring ways to diversify its client base. Its team is being more reflective, strategic and innovative in vetting ways to push the envelope in the electronics remanufacturing field, including stepping into the medical, marine and aircraft industries. “When you think about medical systems and the potential for remanufacturing MRI devices or CAT scanning equipment, that market probably makes more sense if you remanufacture here in the United States and then sell into a tertiary market that can’t afford the higher cost of brand-new medical equipment,” Finan says. He notes that there are many regulatory and logistical hurdles that come with achieving that goal, but the company is exploring it as an option for greatly expanding the reach and use of the electronics remanufacturing field.
At SRC Electronics’ core is the ability to stay ahead of the curve and anticipate customers’ needs, almost before they even happen. “Something SRC does really well as an organization is identify potential opportunities for clients, even when the clients don’t necessarily see them,” Finan says. The company is exploring the ability to identify those opportunities even earlier in the process by establishing partnerships with OEMs at the pre-production phase. An earlier partnership would allow SRC Electronics engineers to see a map of a commercial vehicle’s entire system, for example, test the parameters of all electronics inside that vehicle and then proactively identify parts that will require remanufacture or updating down the line instead of responding retroactively to a customer’s needs.
Finan says the secret to staying at the top of the game is the open book management culture practiced in each of SRC’s companies. Not only does the culture incentivize associates to perform at their best, but it also encourages critical thinking surrounding ways to improve processes and become more efficient. “One of the things I committed to really early on was I’m going to tell you exactly where I believe we are at, good, bad or ugly, and I expect the same in return,” Finan says. The open, honest culture open book management creates has opened opportunities for associates to offer suggestions on process improvements, increases in efficiency or new markets to explore. “I really believe in and trust in the people doing the job on a day-by-day basis, and if they’ve got a great idea, I want them to feel more than open about sharing it,” Finan says. For SRC Electronics, this culture is the key to holding onto its place at the top.