Remanufacturing – a key industrial discipline at the end of a product’s life cycle – allows for affordable and resource-saving supply of spare parts in the automotive and heavy duty sector. In a five step industrial series production (disassembly – cleaning – testing – reconditioning – reassembly), remanufacturing turns used parts (cores) returned from the market into ‘like new’ parts. Main product segments are starters, alternators, engines, transmissions, brake calipers and other automotive and heavy duty parts.
Remanufacturers suffer from similar developments as many other industries – part numbers are increasing due to growing customer orientation and globalization. A diversified spectrum of different brands, products, models, configurations and quality levels (e.g. cleanliness, degree of damage) requires a specific set of operations resulting in high product as well as process variety. Unlike new production companies, remanufacturers, however, can merely passively handle such variety instead of avoid or reduce part numbers actively (see Picture 1) as they usually have no influence on the design of products.
Picture 1: Leverage of approaches to variety management
All this makes daily operations like production organization, planning and control, core management as well as identification a difficult and challenging task where generic tools fail.
This project supports remanufacturers in handling variety induced complexity by developing sector and company specific manufacturing configuration options. For this purpose remanufacturing operations will be clustered into and analyzed within four target fields:
a. Production organization (e.g. layout design)
b. Planning and control (e.g. intuitive planning tools)
c. Core management (e.g. warehouse strategy)
d. Identification (e.g. RFID)
Methodologies, technical solutions and indicators, adjusted to the needs of remanufacturers, will be developed within these fields and merged into a configuration toolbox. This allows for individual selection of modules and recombination according to the specific requirements of any remanufacturing company (company size, product type).
First outcomes will be available by mid 2011 – the configuration toolbox will be presented mid 2012 followed by the implementation within the partner companies and a verification period until the end of this research project which is scheduled for 03/2013.