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Value in Remanufacturing Construction Equipment: Reduce Cost, Downtime, Carbon Footprint

Tue May 14, 2024 - National Edition
Garrett Adamson, John Deere

Unlocking economic value across the lifecycle of a machine while also adopting more sustainable methods, the remanufacturing of construction equipment allows for more environmental outcomes in a customer’s business while maintaining product circularity.
Photo courtesy of John Deere
Unlocking economic value across the lifecycle of a machine while also adopting more sustainable methods, the remanufacturing of construction equipment allows for more environmental outcomes in a customer’s business while maintaining product circularity.

As the construction industry continues to make strides toward more sustainable and economical manufacturing practices, there are many considerations that come into play.

Most OEMs have begun to prioritize the growth of hybrid and electric solutions, while others continue to evaluate their manufacturing practices in hopes of pioneering more sustainable and eco-friendly processes for the rest of the industry.

In recent years, there has been a major uptick in sustainability driven initiatives, however, there are some practices that have been instrumental for many years in making a similar impact. It's important to consider the many different ways to maximize, or even repurpose, your equipment fleet where possible, and remanufacturing does exactly that.

Unlocking economic value across the lifecycle of a machine while also adopting more sustainable methods, the remanufacturing of construction equipment allows for more environmental outcomes in a customer's business while maintaining product circularity. The process of remanufacturing transforms old components to like-new condition, saving customers time and money while boosting performance and sustainability.

What Is Remanufacturing and How Does it Work?

Remanufacturing is an industrial process used by equipment manufacturers that utilizes previously sold, worn or no-longer functional machine components, and remanufactures them into like-new, or in some cases better than new, condition and comparable in quality and performance capabilities.

While remanufacturing may often be confused with the recycling or repairing of machine components, remanufacturing takes it a step further. Required by design, to be considered a fully remanufactured machine, the product at the end of its life will be used for its raw materials and its core. The core will then be reprocessed as the main input for the remanufacturing process. In addition, by not having to make a new engine, axle, or cylinder head from scratch, the natural resources like iron ore are preserved, melting furnaces aren't fired up, and carbon footprints are therefore smaller.

During the remanufacturing process, the machine's cores are derived from an up-front additional fee to the customer, which are then exchanged when a new or remanufactured component is purchased. Then, the core is utilized to fully remanufacture a like-new, functional machine, which will make its way back onto the job site.

At the end of a machine's lifecycle, the cores are often lost when customers fail to return them to the manufacturer, leaving them without the capability to be reused in the remanufacturing process. In addition, high core yields are necessary for a sustainable business. Therefore, when the core of the machine goes unused following its full lifespan, there are less opportunities to remanufacture the machine or give it a second life.

How Is Remanufacturing Different Than Reconditioning or Rebuilding?

When a machine breaks down, customers have a few options. They can fully remanufacture, recondition or rebuild their machines to get them back and running on the job site. When customers choose to rebuild or recondition the component, by fixing only what's broken or replacing failed parts, there are some associated risks including dealing with the unknown costs and limited warranties.

Reconditioning is used when failed parts are replaced with new parts, inspected, and may be tested prior to sending a machine back to the job. Rebuilding is used when failed parts are replaced with new or used parts, and therefore only what is broken is being fixed before going back into the field.

While often confused for reconditioned or rebuilt equipment, fully remanufactured equipment is held to a different standard. For a like-new performance at a fraction of the cost, and maximize your machine's up time, remanufacturing is the way to go. In a remanufactured build, failed and other critical parts are replaced with OEM parts, inspected, and 100 percent dynamically tested to meet original performance criteria. These parts are often under warranty by the manufacturer.

Another differentiator in remanufacturing is that once a machine core is received, it is completely disassembled and cleaned. Then, each part is analyzed against current part specifications. Any part that does not meet the needed level of quality is either recycled of remanufactured using advanced reclaimed technique.

Finally, all components are inspected and tested to make they meet or exceed its original performance specifications. This makes remanufacturing an ideal solution for customers looking to retain the same performance they expect from a new machine, at a reduced cost.

Why Is Remanufacturing Important to the Industry?

Through the repurposing of salvageable machine cores and components, remanufacturing can support a circular economy while reducing the carbon footprint of many manufacturers. By being able to reduces energy consumption through the reuse, reclaiming and recycling of the core, remanufacturing is a more-sustainable way to bring life back into the components of a machine.

Reman operations are often focused on the remanufacturing of engines, electronics, drivetrain and hydraulic components of the machine. In 2022, nearly 27.6 million pounds of material were recycled through remanufacturing, according to the John Deere Sustainability Report.

In 2026, the anticipated material return is expected to exceed 49M pounds globally. Over time, this influx of salvaged materials helps reduce the amount of waste attributed to equipment manufacturing.

Additionally, according to a recent John Deere Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), there is a 54 percent reduction in CO2e when using a remanufactured axle. On average, there is a 2,647 kg CO2 reduction, which is equivalent to 6,652 driven miles in greenhouse gas emissions saved when utilizing a machine with a remanufactured axle. This helps reduce CO2 representing a carbon sequestration equal to 3.2 acres of U.S. forest.

Beyond its impact on sustainability, remanufacturing also can help customers save time and money, and supports a tiered portfolio. On average, the price of a remanufactured part versus the cost of a brand-new part is approximately 20-30 percent less. In addition, reman increases uptime by allowing a customer to drop a complete engine into the machine in approximately 8 hours as opposed to a complete rebuild of an engine which takes on average 40 hours to complete. This gets customers up and running on the job sooner, while saving additional costs in the process.

Looking at other key benefits, customers who remanufacture their equipment can reduce downtime due to faster repairs, save on costs associated with buying brand-new equipment or parts, and get back up and running on the job sooner.

To learn more about how to remanufacture your fleet, contact your local construction equipment dealer.

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