In the “Ship of Theseus” myth, every plank and nail of the vessel is replaced over and over until people wonder if it’s the same ship anymore. It is — but it’s been given a new lease on life.
Machinists are often called on to remanufacture hydraulic and pneumatic parts, whether they work in-house, perform third-party rebuilding, or refurbish used machines for sale or rental. There are more than a few benefits.
Should machining companies work to expand their remanufacturing services portfolio? How can a machine shop perform hydraulic, pneumatic, and other parts remanufacturing cost-effectively? And should young people today take an interest in remanufacturing?As it turns out, a number of factors are renewing interest in remanufacturing services and creating broad opportunities for all parties.
Rebuilding hydraulic and pneumatic components is typical of the remanufacturing process in most respects. The following tips are designed to help your engineers, machinists, and decision-makers start thinking about and prioritizing rebuilding services in your service menu. Ideally, they’ll also help other decision-makers better understand the remanufacturing process and why it works so well.
Machinists know the tools required to carry out a variety of remanufacturing projects in the region and local community. They can help make wise investments in new equipment and talent to expand your portfolio. There is very potentially a market right under your nose for competent machining companies that can deliver quick turnarounds on rebuilds to get equipment running again.
Machinists-in-training can also think about how well-rounded their skills are and how familiar they are with the latest diagnostic equipment. Remanufacturing and other skills related to machining and maintenance are in such high demand that training centers have been popping up for years that specialize in getting new machinists job-ready at lightning-speed.
•Provide versatile services and have the right tools: The variety of small and large businesses and business models requires unusual metalworking and machining requests. For example, bore repairs and milling repairs can be as small as 1.25 inches or as large as 11 feet — and your would-be clients want a one-stop shop no matter the size or condition of their equipment. You don’t need to specialize in everything, but you should have the tools required to offer a wide variety of services that complement each other.
•Offer the most advanced technology: Remanufacturing clients want reassurance that their trust is well-placed. If your unique value proposition involves credibly superior inspection technology, put that front and center. Rebuilt parts are popular, but clients who are new to the process may be especially interested in the technologies used to ensure rebuilt parts are as safe as factory-new parts.
•Retain and analyze service records: Machining companies can win repeat business by parlaying their existing maintenance and service record keeping into an additional stream from remanufacturing. Analysis of machine service records can show trends indicating potential equipment failure in advance, showing you the perfect window to recommend remanufacturing to prevent trouble.
•Use only proven aftermarket products: When parts rebuilding projects don’t involve adding new raw metal to a worn-down part, they may involve installing aftermarket parts. One example would be removing scoring and deterioration from piston bores and then installing oversized pistons. If you use nonstandard third-party parts, insist on at least a year-long warranty and products with long and successful track records in rebuilt parts.
Machining companies and manufacturers can, and should, tout the advantages of rebuilding services to their existing and potential clients. Manufacturers are in an especially unique position to design their products to be rebuilt rather than discarded.
Rebuilding and remanufacturing pneumatic and hydraulic parts like pumps, cylinders, and motors can offer a compelling return on investment compared to buying new. Here are some of the reasons why, as well as some of the other benefits:
•Remanufacturing returns worn-out, end-of-life products to like-new condition and adds a refreshed warranty for peace of mind. This provides an oftentimes substantial financial benefit — between 40 and 60 percent — over buying new.
•Companies that commit themselves to lean manufacturing soon find that rebuilding existing tools and equipment is an important part of the mission. “Doing more with less” extends to optimizing the useful lifetimes of your equipment or the equipment you repair for your machine shop clients.
•Component rebuilding programs also contribute to the “circular economy.” This is where even minor components are designed for multiple useful lifetimes and user replaceability. Rebuilding provides an “environmental savings” compared to buying new, including helping reduce energy and raw material usage.
The concept of component rebuilding can be traced to World War II-era automotive manufacturers and the harsh austerity measures in place at the time. We’ve come a long way since then, but global climate change threatens to do to today’s supply chains what global war did generations ago.
Most of us learned the “reduce, reuse, recycle” mantra. It seems all that training was leading us to this point. Machinists should learn everything they can about rebuilding machine components and machine shops should place a special emphasis on their rebuilding services and the practical, environmental, and financial advantages they offer.
Remanufacturing is an exciting and increasingly urgent component in Industry 4.0. It might be fair to say we need, and will continue to need, more highly skilled and versatile machine shops with rebuilding experience than ever. Keeping parts in circulation for longer and reducing the use of new materials is to everybody’s advantage.
Article by —
Megan Ray Nichols
Freelance Science Writer
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