Remanufacturing: Wikis


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Remanufacturing is the process of disassembly and recovery at the module level and, eventually, at the component level. It requires the repair or replacement of worn out or obsolete components and modules. Parts subject to degradation affecting the performance or the expected life of the whole are replaced. See an example of a professional automotive electronics remanufacturing flow.

Remanufacturing differs from other recovery processes in its completeness: a remanufactured machine should match the same customer expectation as new machines. There are three types of remanufacturing activities, each with different operational challenges.

Many formal definitions of remanufacturing exist in the literature, but the first published report on remanufacturing, by R. Lund (1998), describes remanufacturing as “… an industrial process in which worn-out products are restored to like-new condition. Through a series of industrial processes in a factory environment, a discarded product is completely disassembled. Useable parts are cleaned, refurbished, and put into inventory. Then the product is reassembled from the old parts (and where necessary, new parts) to produce a unit fully equivalent and sometimes superior in performance and expected lifetime to the original new product.”


Remanufacturing without identity loss

With this method, a current machine is built on yesterday’s base, receiving all of the enhancements, expected life and warranty of a new machine. The physical structure (the chassis or frame) is inspected for soundness. The whole product is refurbished and critical modules are overhauled, upgraded or replaced. If there are defects in the original design, they are eliminated. This is the case for customized remanufacturing of machine tools, airplanes, computer mainframes, large medical equipment and other capital goods. Because of its uniqueness, this product recovery is characterized as a project.

Repetitive remanufacturing without identity loss

In this method, there is the additional challenge of scheduling the sequence of dependent processes and identifying the location of inventory buffers. There is a fine line between repetitive remanufacturing without loss of identity and product overhaul. Again, the critical difference is that remanufacturing is a complete process. The final output has a like-new appearance and is covered by a warranty comparable to that of a new product.

Remanufacturing with loss of original product identity

With this method, used goods are disassembled into pre-determined components and repaired to stock, ready to be reassembled into a remanufactured product. This is the case when remanufacturing automobile components, photocopiers, toner cartridges, furniture, ready-to-use cameras and personal computers. Once the product is disassembled and the parts are recovered, the process concludes with an operation not too different from original manufacturing. Disassembled parts are inventoried, just like purchased parts and made available for final assembly.

Remanufacturing with loss of original product identity encompasses some unique challenges in inventory management and disassembly sequence development. Some of the open questions relate to the commonality of parts in products of different generations, the uncertainty in the supply of used products, and their relationship with production planning. The National Center for Remanufacturing and Resource Recovery (NCR3) at Rochester Institute of Technology (NY) is researching remanufacturing processes including testing standards for remanufactured products.


Rebuilding is an old name for remanufacturing. It is still widely used by automotive industry. For example, the Automotive Parts Remanufacturers Association (APRA), have the new term in their name, but to be safe on their own website use the combined term as 'rebuild/remanufacture'.

The term 'rebuilding' is also often used by railway companies. For example, a steam locomotive may be rebuilt with a new boiler or a diesel locomotive may be rebuilt with a new engine. This saves money (by re-using the frame, and some other components, which still have years of useful life) and allows the incorporation of improved technology. For example, a new diesel engine may have lower fuel consumption, reduced exhaust emissions and better reliability. Recent examples include British Rail Class 57 and British Rail Class 43.

See also

Lund, R., Remanufacturing: an American resource, Proceedings of the Fifth International Congress Environmentally Conscious Design and Manufacturing, June 16 and 17, 1998, Rochester Institute of Technology, Rochester, NY, USA.

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