4.2.5 Strategies for Remanufacturing

Course subject(s) Module 4: Remanufacturing

As a design engineer, you have a very important role to play in remanufacturing. When designing a product you have a great opportunity ahead of you to make the product as easy as possible to remanufacture.

First of all though, do not forget all other aspects of the product. Take the product’s complete life cycle into consideration. It might, for example, be a poor choice to use a product for a second life if it is not as efficient as a newer one.

There are a number of strategies and concrete bits of advice that, in most cases, will facilitate and favour remanufacturing.

Here are ten tips:

  1. Documentation. Add an identifier to the product to make it possible, later on, to see which product it is. This might be done with QR-code, barcode, a printed number or some other suitable way. Save documentation of the product in a way that is easily traceable from the identification code.
  2. Diagnostic tools. Add a structural way to obtain a diagnostic of the old, worn out product. This assists you to clarify what has to be done to the product to give it a second life.
  3. Materials. Consider multiple lifecycles. Use materials which are strong enough. Avoid materials that might lose strength, become brittle or get discoloured. Do not incorporate any chemicals that might be banned later on.
  4. Upgrading. Make it possible to upgrade the product.
  5. Modularization and product structure. If needed divide the product into parts, or modules. Try to keep all parts you plan to update in a coming remanufacturing in the same module. Avoid cross-dependence between modules so you don’t have to change one module if another one has to be changed.
  6. Cleaning. Make it easy to clean the product. All parts of the product should withstand the same cleaning chemicals, temperatures and cleaning tools. Don’t give the product nooks, grooves etc which might capture dirt and dust.
  7. Demounting. Make the product easy to demount. Screws, snaps, clips are normally preferred. Welding, rivets, folding, glueing etc can make a joint more difficult to demount. Use the same type, and size, of joining elements (screws) to make it possible to use only one tool during demounting. Make the joining points easy to access if possible from one side, and aligned in one direction.
  8. Standards. Use standardized elements and measures to facilitate future upgrading and exchange of parts.
  9. Dimensions. Add some extra material on surfaces supposed to be machined during the remanufacturing. It may also facilitate if you include reference points for the coming machining.
  10. Think ahead. At the very end after a number of lifecycles, every product will end up in recycling, incineration or landfill. So even if you aim for remanufacturing and multiple lifecycles you should also think about recycling. We learn more about recycling in the next module of this course.
  11. Bonus. If you design for remanufacturing you often simultaneously achieve an easier manufacturing process. For example, easier demountingnormally also implies easier mounting.
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