In the past five years, the company has invested more than $8 million in capital in its remanufacturing business, which gives new life to key truck and trailer components such as axle differentials, transmissions, reman trailer axles and remanufactured brake shoes.
Specifically, it has invested $2.7 million in its Plainfield, Ind., plant, and improvements include a more efficient process for remanufactured brake shoes.
Meritor developed its PlatinumShield brake shoe coating in 2009 to eliminate rust-jacking, which occurs when rust forms on bare shoe metal under the lining, causing it to lift and crack. However, PlatinumShield proved so effective, the company says, that when shoes would come back to the plant, the coating was difficult to remove.
To make the process more efficient, Meritor introduced two pass-through ovens. "Baskets of used raw steel get loaded into these ovens," says Doug Wolma, general manager, Global Aftermarket Operations. "On the other side, all that paint and grease and contaminants have been baked and turned to ash. So now you just dump them into a shot blast operation, and it's easier to get them off."
Two barrel blasters replaced 14 pieces of equipment previously used for the same process. After being shot-blasted, used shoes go through a five-stage wash and pre-treatment process before getting the PlatinumShield coating.
The green aspect
One aspect of remanufacturing that appeals to many is that fact that the business revolves around reusing and recycling parts. Also, the process requires less energy and fewer materials than producing a new component.
Parts are remanufactured using a standardized industrialized process, which is in line with specific technical specifications and incorporates defined core management standards. A remanufactured part is generally covered by the same warranty as a new replacement part.
More than 30,000 tons of metal are recycled annually in Meritor's remanufacturing operations worldwide, and the company recycles 90% of all waste from operations. More than 40,000 tons of cores, or original components, are processed at Meritor remanufacturing facilities annually.
Due to the expense of transporting the cores, the company says it is most cost-effective to remanufacture components locally.
"One of the most costly things about remanufacturing is that you have to bring the core back to the factory," Wolma says. "Ultimately, this means more remanufactured products are produced locally (in the United States), creating more jobs here in the plant and in the transportation sector."
Value for fleets
Wolma says remanufactured components offer higher quality and lower costs than rebuilt components and fill a distinct market niche with older vehicles operated by the second or third owners seeking the lowest costs to remain competitive. This demand for remanufactured product, he says, will grow in the future and include more sophisticated electronic components. Meritor says its product portfolio will broaden to include electronics, actuators, controls, engine and brake and mechatronics.
More truck owners are opting for remanufactured components for reduced costs and nationwide warranty, Meritor says. Recently, the increased number of remanufactured components has matched the influx of used trucks in the marketplace.
"Trucking operations of all sizes are realizing the real value of remanufactured parts," Wolma says. "Not just in terms of straight cost, which can be 30% less, but also in terms of the quality which remanufactured parts bring to their bottom line."