Commentary: Remanufacturing Redux
April 2014, TruckingInfo.com - Editorial
Remanufacturing has been in the news quite a bit lately. I recently wrote about the need to include remanufactured parts as an integral part of your fleet’s overall parts strategy. But if you don’t want to take my word about the viability of reman parts, other folks are talking about it, too.
Frost & Sullivan recently published a report, Strategic Analysis of the North American Class 6-8 Remanufactured Powertrain Components Aftermarket. And the Federal Vehicle Repair Cost Savings Act (H.R. 4056) was introduced on Feb. 11. The purpose of the act is to reduce the operation and maintenance costs associated with the federal fleet by encouraging the use of remanufactured parts.
The Frost & Sullivan report says the reman powertrain components market, including engines, transmissions, clutches and turbochargers, earned revenue of $3.19 billion in 2013. That number is expected to reach $3.52 billion in 2019. The company cited the environmentally friendly image of reman parts as one of the reasons for their growth, but also indicated that their reliability is good as well. So reman is likely to still remain a viable option for cost-conscious fleets.
The report cautioned that “increased sophistication in the functionality of heavy-duty engines and variable geometry turbochargers will raise the unit prices of remanufactured components.” But it could be argued that those same forces will be raising the cost of new components as well.
Reman components also provide the bonus of reducing downtime, since they can be installed in less time than it would take to complete a major component repair. Jack Vollbrecht, senior vice president of Remy International and vice chairman of the Motor & Equipment Remanufacturers Associations, says, “For any customer, downtime is not an option, and fleet managers know they can trust remanufactured parts to keep their vehicles on the road.”
Having a reliable supplier of reman components is key. At least in the case of powertrain components, that supplier is likely to be the truck OEM coupled with the original component supplier, if it was someone other than the OEM itself. Frost & Sullivan says remanufacturers that have access to proprietary information along with a distribution network that has trained and skilled labor will have the advantage. The OES (original equipment supplier) channel had 73% of the aftermarket revenue for these components in 2012. Frost & Sullivan expects that to grow as a result of increasing powertrain complexity, which will make it difficult for independent remanufacturers to compete.
“Truck manufacturers are also interested in widening their participation in the remanufacturing industry, hence providing added opportunities for remanufacturers to partner with OEMs, keep pace with technology changes, offer differentiated products,” says Anuj Monga, automotive and transportation research analyst at Frost & Sullivan.
Another plus for buyers is that there will be some assurances of product quality, especially with powertrain components, as major component suppliers and truck makers take the lead role in growing this market.
Reman is not the answer for every fleet or every situation, but it is worth considering as an option in situations where cost and reduced downtime are important. And whether H.R. 4056 gets enacted or not, it has served to focus more attention on reman and the cost and environmental benefits it provides.