Sunday, December 5, 2010

Re-Manufacturing as an option in modern Production and Operations

I happenned to be a participant at a seminar on "Remanufacturing" conducted by CII(Confederation of Indian Industry) at Hotel Leela Kempinsky in Bangalore some where in the year 2010. Ganesh Iyer the ceo of Caterpillar gave a spirited talk on "Remanufacturing" and ever since I have been enamoured by the various possibilities such an approach should throw up in a resource constrained world.

What is Re-manufacturing ? The answer some where is simple. Take a 20 year old vehicle and re-manufacture and transform it into a new one and it should work for another 20 years as a new one. This activity must be taken seriously by manufacturers because some-where hidden in this concept is the ability to manufacture low cost products of tommorrow.

Across the board and across all product sectors we come across products at the end of the product life cycle with increased maintenance and operating costs with an inherent in-ability to perform; but the truth of the matter is that barring few components the rest of the product is in-tact. Take a car- the engine life is much much larger than the life span of few other components that might be inhibiting the proper function of the car. Note that it needs large scale effort to make an engine and to render the car as "unfit" for further use shrouds within itself large-scale and mind-less waste and some kind or pernicious disregard of various resources and capabilities that went into manufacture the product or car or whatever it might be.

The globe can be linked through re-manufacturing; the fact of the matter being that this concept may be irrelevant for certain classes of products and societies which is understood but a re-manufactured and re-configured product would defanitely have use some where in the world. The common man can contribute to remanufacturing by possibly sending back a product back to a re-manufacturing facility. All that is the need of the hour is understanding the importance of re-manufacturing both at a producer and user levels.

Re-manufacturing needs advanced engineering. I feel manufacturing needs engineering and re-manufacturing needs advanced engineering. Manufacturing happens as a matter of habit and flow in a conventional methodology with minimum deviation and you get a standard by-product from a system that gives scope for minimum and predictable quality problems; On the other hand re-manufacturing gives un-predictable situations and taking a used product studying what is weak and giving fool-proof solutions and making the product work is truly Engineering and a task which society at large must be thankful for the large scale less conspicious saving that happens through this effort which would run into millions of dollars when embarked around the world. The environment and sanity would be thanful to mankind that human beings are truly evolving in the right way and inventing methodiologies of conservation and use to the benifit of man-kind. Let us identify ten approaches that could make re-manufacturing a success;

  1. Every individual must take into cognizance the effort needed to manufacture a product, all the time ;energy and manpower.
  2. Theoretically all products can be remanufactured.
  3. Before throwing away a used product ponder its possible re-use by some one and clearly brief him about the problems to be overcome.
  4. Like we have the word servicing it is time we recognize rhe word "Remanufacturing" too around the world.
  5. Equipment manufacturers should create re-manufacturing facilities.
  6. There should be wide-spread research on re-manufacturing- its unique problems, challenges and constraints.
  7. Re-manufacturing must be made a cost-effective proposition.
  8. Re-manufacturing should cut across brands that originally made the product.
  9. Re-manufactured products must be put though stringent quality and reliability tests.
  10. Universities must incorporate Re-Manufacturing as part of their sylabbi to create awareness of its vast potential and possibilities and the realities that are likely to unfold in the economy of the globalized generation.

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