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Remanufacturing dawn of a new era?

Francois Augnet, vice president for TRW Automotive Aftermarket Europe and Asia Pacific, shared his view on remanufacturing with us during the APRA 2008 European Symposium & Exhibition on 15th April 2008 at the Intercontinental Hotel, Warsaw, Poland.



 





 With the increasing impact of EU legislation regarding environmentally-friendly products and the need to reduce carbon footprint, the subject of remanufacturing is becoming more important than ever. Consumers and distributors are seeking repair and service options that not only make good financial sense, but also deliver high-quality products and are environmentally sound.

Safety for consumers

Francois Augnet commented that remanufactured products are becoming more visible in the independent aftermarket and his customers are recognizing that it’s their social responsibility to sell greener products. However, the industry still has a long way to go in order to increase the prominence of reman products, and ensure a positive and clean image is perceived all through the chain and down to the car driver.


“At present, we have to face a gap in legislation that does not make any distinction for fitting a product from a scrap yard with untested performance and an “as good as new” unit which has been through the same testing as the original units,” he continued.

Francois also expressed his concern that with safety parts like brake calipers you can change only the left  or right units - thus creating potentially an imbalance of braking performance and with the risk for the car to oversteer in case of braking. Such cases can result in the difference of a few meters which can mean life or death.

Protecting our environment

Augnet continued: “The industry has a massive opportunity in this market - the average car owner is unaware of the environmental benefits of a remanufactured part. Consumers want eco-friendly parts, and are more aware of the environment now than ever before. There is a whole ‘green’ pitch that the remanufacturing sector has overlooked for years – and now has the responsibility to make the consumer aware of their responsibility towards the environment.

“With remanufacturing becoming more of a focus for the aftermarket industry, customers need to be well informed of their role in the core return process and the responsibility to their suppliers. A number of legislative changes such as Europe’s End of Life vehicle directive mean that customers are encouraged to reuse all salvageable materials at the end of the product lifecycle.”

For TRW, this is part of an integral process. Its factories are ISO 14001 certified - thus in line with environmental regulations. The aftermarket division is obviously promoting remanufactured units but also ensures that the consumable parts in the units are also ecologically sound. For example, one of TRW’s unique features is that all of its pads for the replacement market are heavy metal free – removing the risk of mechanics breathing in harmful dust and ultimately releasing materials on the road which pose a threat to the environment.

“You can not pretend to be green on Monday and be a polluter on Tuesday,” said Augnet who also revealed that he was encouraging his collaborators to calculate their carbon footprint and consider how to reduce it within their area of responsibilities with a specific ‘Measure Of  Performance’.

Creating the right framework

Augnet continued: “Associations such as APRA and CLEPA have to play a key role in working together to lead changes in the industry, and promote the issue of remanufacturing with the EU Commission. They need to provide a forum to discuss common challenges for the market – ensuring that it’s better placed for the future of our customers, and their customers alike.

He added: ”The necessity of a directive is very clear albeit in the context of Article 31 of the type approval. The agenda will have to include the setting of standards to protect the interest of end consumers by defining clearly the label of remanufactured products. We will need to ask for a review of the tax treatment of these products and we will also have to somehow seek a CO2 credit for the remanufacturers.”

TRW has further reinforced its commitment to the environment by appointing Dr Francoise Wierzbicka–Lahcen from TRW, who is well known to the automotive industry. She will coordinate TRW’s key initiatives, supporting the safety and environmental engagement towards the EU and UN. She will take an active role within CLEPA and APRA with Michael von-Linden – head of TRW’s remanufacturing business group.



TRW – at the heart of remanufacturing

Remanufacturing is part of TRW’s aftermarket core business strategy. It currently produces a range of remanufactured brake calipers, steering racks, pumps and VSC units from three sites in the UK, the Czech Republic and the USA, employing a total of over 500 people. All of TRW’s remanufacturing activities are fully supported by the R&D of TRW OE sites, and are fully validated by approved testing facilities.

As part of its dedication to enhance its remanufacturing presence, TRW recently announced a new business unit pulling together its reman interest, Re-manufacturing Group, or ‘RMG’. Led by Michael von-Linden, RMG is focusing on leveraging TRW’s current expertise and supporting its customers in this growing market.

In 2007, TRW acquired Brake Engineering – further enhancing its remanufacturing capability and demonstrating its plans to grow in this area.



 

source: TRW, press release





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