By William Schwarck, Editor
Remanufacturing is a unique field because it draws on a broad array of skillsets, technologies, processes and business models. It is highly technical as an industrial system which is also deeply conceptual when approached through a sustainability lens.
All this makes describing it to the many business leaders, engineers and policymakers across the globe no easy task as they all have different perspectives and levels of expertise across varied disciplines.
Almost anyone working with remanufacturing will recognize the above description from a new book titled Remanufacturing in the Circular Economy. Undoubtedly, this is part of the explanation why remanufacturing remains relatively unknown outside the remanufacturing industries themselves.
Edited by Nabil Nasr, the world’s leading ‘reman’ scientist, with contributions from a stellar line-up of academics and scientists, Remanufacturing in the Circular Economy – Operations, Engineering and Logistics leaves little excuse for anyone to claim ignorance of remanufacturing and its benefits to our societies. Here – in some 200 pages written by visionary experts – the importance of the entire reman industry is set out in no uncertain terms.
Remanufacturing has become is a key in the world’s quest for change and for sustainable production.
How to further promote the cause of reman then? There is a wide range of opportunities – and an equal number of potential hindrances. As Swedish professor Eric Sundin, one of the books contributors, puts it: “In order to increase the global uptake of remanufacturing in today’s globally industrialized society, there are a number of hurdles to overcome. The most chalenging of these, those that deserve the greatest portion of our attention, are customer acceptance, legal issues, company policies and an understanding of what the benefits of remanufacturing really are.”
Considering the huge range of potentially remanufacturable components, there seems little reason to doubt the continued progress for remanufacturing. Indeed, there are few areas of modern industry where remanufacturing does not contribute signifi cantly to the circular economy. Among current examples are the (enormous) automotive and commercial vehicle industries, aerospace, earthmoving and construction machinery, computers, photocopiers and maritime and agricultural machinery to mention some. Going forward, there will be additional potential for household goods like refrigerators, washing machines and, on a larger scale, wind-turbines as current turbines increasingly require updates. The same is the case with robots and other automation systems as the pace of automation continues to rise relentlessly. By and large, if it moves it can be remanufactured.
“ULTIMATE FORM OF RECYCLING”
Rightly considered a founder of European remanufacturing, Professor Rolf Steinhilper, who last year retired after 25 years as Chair Manufacturing and Remanufacturing Technology at Germany’s University of Bayreuth, coined the frequently quoted phrase “Remanufacturing is the ultimate form of recycling”. He states: “Ultimately, the industrial economy has no choice except to develop fully integrated, closed-loop systems if it wishes to be sustained. In the light of the conflicting challenges created by massive population growth, finite resources and the desire for economic development, circularity will become necessary. Adopting a transformational approach now is therefore the only way to ensure preparedness, resilience and systemic maturity.
”From the opposite side of the globe Mitsusaka Matsumoto of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Institute at the Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan, concurs: “Overall, the potential for remanufacturing to create economic, environmental and social benefits is immense and its global adoption is vital to a more circular economy. It’s essential that our generation realize the high value of industrial servitization and remanufacturing – both independently and as cooperative elements in a larger movement towards global economic and environmental efficiency and sustainability.”
This new, excellent book manages to combine academic/scientific expertise with a fact-based vision of the global importance of remanufacturing in a way that has not been done before. In doing so, it does great service to industry as well as to the well-being of the earth. Its creators deserve a world-wide audience and in the view of this writer, they will get it.