Are remanufactured parts right for your business?

Truck operators have to consider a multitude of fixed and variable factors that have an impact on their cost of operation, and subsequently, their business’ bottom line. These include fuel costs, financing, labour, insurance, maintenance and repair.

When a vital component breaks down the question that inevitably arises is how you should replace it. Repair, buy new or go for a remanufactured part?

To make the right decision for your business it’s vital to consider all your options to essentially solve the same problem.

“Buying a new part could be your first instinct when something breaks down; after all you want something that works, has a warranty, and is guaranteed to fit your truck. A new part will also come with the latest technology, have the longest life expectation and work efficiently. But it will also mean a higher price tag and you will have to evaluate how this will impact your operating costs and total cost of ownership of your truck,” says Eric Parry, sustainable solutions manager at Volvo Trucks South Africa.

When you repair a part, the malfunctioning or worn component gets replaced while the rest stays the same. While repairing can save you money it’s good to be aware repairing also almost always comes with certain downtime as the truck will have to be in the workshop for a while.

Understanding remanufacturing

Before considering whether remanufactured parts are the right option for your business, it’s important to distinguish remanufacturing from rebuilding a piece of equipment.

Remanufacturing is a standardised industrial process in which worn-out parts are returned to a condition that is as good as new in technical specifications and performance. It is usually a good idea to replace heavier components with remanufactured parts as these tend to be more expensive. Engine, chassis parts, transmission brakes and steering are just a few of such components. When it comes to electronics, starter motor, control units and alternator can be replaced using remanufactured parts as well.

“When we remanufacture parts at Volvo Trucks this process includes dismantling, cleaning, re-machining, assembling and testing the equipment. The process is much like the original manufacturing process, except that some of the components have had a previous life,” said Olga Naert, remanufacturing business development manager at Volvo Trucks.

Quality, safety and a better environmental footprint

There are a few reasons why a remanufactured part might be the right investment if you are facing the breakdown of a critical component.

“The most obvious is of course the lower cost compared to a new part. When you buy a reman unit, all parts will be updated with the latest technology,” explained Naert. “Quality is another plus as remanufactured parts meet OEM standards for performance and always comes with a warranty.”

Last but not least, a remanufactured part also has much lower impact on the environment as a lot less raw material, energy and water is used in the production process.

A concern about the environment and diminishing resources is a great reason to choose remanufacturing. A newly produced part is made using 100% new raw material whereas a remanufactured part only uses 15% since most of the material comes from the core (the faulty part).

“Using remanufactured parts also saves energy, reduces landfill waste and it means that dangerous residuals inside worn components are taken care of,” said Parry. “The process of remanufacturing, which is labor intensive, can also be seen as sustainable from a societal perspective as it creates demand for high-skilled jobs.”

In addition to quality and lower cost, remanufactured parts can also be a quick fix compared to repairing thanks to their growing popularity and availability. In fact choosing a remanufactured part could put you back on the road just as quickly as purchasing a new product.

“At the end of the day whatever purchase strategy you decide on will depend on the specific needs of your business,” explained Parry. “Remanufacturing can be a great option if you are cost sensitive but also want a high-quality product. The cost of a remanufactured part can be up to 50% cheaper than a new one, depending on the type of part.”


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