Building tomorrow with yesterday’s repurposed parts

According to the National Environment Agency, Singapore generated about 7 million tonnes of waste in 2021. They recycled 55% of it into new products.

To meet the world's emissions targets, we need to do more to decrease waste and increase recycling.

The use of recycled and re-purposed goods has seen a surge in popularity in recent years. In fact, resale websites such as eBay, Vinted and Depop have made it easier and more fashionable than ever. However, people can successfully repurpose not only fashion but also consumer goods.

Repurposed parts have been a staple of the manufacturing sector for years, and have many benefits over new parts. These benefits are now more relevant than ever in light of recent world events. Such as, the current difficulty of sourcing raw materials and automation components.

The supply chain crisis that has hit the manufacturing industry in recent years has had a profound impact on OEMs. As the OEMs struggle to source the components they need, delays are inevitably passed on to the customer. Therefore, they may end up waiting months for a single new part for their machine.

Buying reconditioned parts mitigates this problem. This is because the parts are already manufactured and simply need to be delivered. As a result, this can drastically reduce downtime. However, speedy delivery is not the only benefit of buying reconditioned rather than new.

Go reconditioned to reduce emissions

Global efforts towards a green future have begun in earnest in recent years. Stakeholders at all levels of business are beginning to act to ensure that emissions targets are met. The Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol — the world's most widely used greenhouse gas accounting standards — separates GHG emissions into three 'Scopes'.

Scope 1 covers emissions from controlled sources. Such as the burning of fuel in machines and company vehicles. While Scope 2 includes indirect emissions from purchased electricity. Scope 3 encompasses all other indirect emissions that occur at any point within a company's value chain.

When it's time to replace a component in your machine or system, Scope 3 raises a number of questions to ask. This is as all the emissions associated with a component's production must be considered. This includes emissions from raw material extraction, processing, and transport, as well as all associated waste produced.

Regarding Scope 3 emissions, reconditioned parts have a huge upper hand. They don't require the raw materials or processing that a new part does. Or, any of the associated transport, except delivery between supplier and manufacturer, and so generate far less emissions and waste.

Manufacturers interested in purchasing a reconditioned item have the option of diving deeper into the Scope 3 rabbit hole. Therefore, considering all emissions created by the company selling the reconditioned part.

Not all repurposed parts are created equal

So, new components are a thing of the past, and repurposed auto parts are the way to go? The latter may seem like the better option because they are less costly and better for the environment. In addition to being more accessible than brand-new components. However, they are not without their own considerations.

Before we continue, it is important to make some distinctions between different types of repurposed parts. Repurposed parts generally fall into one of three categories; used/second-hand, refurbished/reconditioned, or remanufactured.

Types of repurposed parts

There are no universally agreed-upon definitions for the restoration processes involved in any of these categories.

  1. However, consider second-hand parts as parts that haven't undergone any form of restoration or quality check.
  2.  Reconditioned parts have typically been cleaned and repaired to an internal standard.
  3. Remanufactured components, on the other hand, are frequently brought up to original equipment manufacturer (OEM) standards. Therefore, they are the highest-quality repurposed parts.

Second hand parts that haven't been refurbished or remanufactured might sometimes be just as reliable as brand new ones. However, they can also be outdated and rundown. These parts pose the highest risk of failing quickly. Some used parts may arrive defective or not even fit your system at all.

However, even parts that carry the reconditioned label can also vary drastically in quality. There are a variety of ways you can recondition parts. Anything from a simple functionality test to a full audit with subsequent replacement of damaged or worn components.

Without a reliable partner to help them, manufacturers must navigate the confusing and sometimes opaque second-hand market on their own. Assuring that the components they buy will carry out their intended functions. Failure to purchase a quality part can be disastrous, and can result in repeated breakdowns, as well as compromising worker safety.

The best approach is to rely on a supplier who can detail the precise reconditioning process used on the component.

  1. To what extent has the part been tested?
  2. What assurances can they make as to its quality and longevity? 
  3. As well as, what kinds of warranties the supplier can provide? 

Only then can manufacturers be sure of the quality of the part they plan to purchase.

The supply chain crisis that pushed many manufacturers to consider reconditioned parts is expected to end in a couple of years. However, many anticipate that these parts will, or at least should, become increasingly popular in the future. Reduced lead times, less downtime, and emissions reduction are just some of the advantages of using remanufactured auto parts. As long as you obtain them from a reputable vendor.