Remanufacturing is an industrial process where used products are restored to useful life. This dissertation describes how products can be designed to facilitate the remanufacturing process. It also describes how the remanufacturing processes can be improved to be more efficient.
When comparing remanufacturing with other end-of-life scenarios, it is hard from an environmental perspective to determine which scenario is preferable. This research has shown that remanufacturing is preferable to new manufacturing from a natural resource perspective. With remanufacturing the efforts that initially was used to shape the product part is salvaged. Furthermore, it has been found that it is environmentally and economically beneficial to have products designed for remanufacturing. To avoid obsolescence, the products must be easy to upgrade with new technology in the remanufacturing process.
In this dissertation, a generic remanufacturing process is described with all included steps that are needed to restore the products to useful life. In order to make the remanufacturing process more efficient, the products need to be adapted for the process. Therefore, the preferable products properties facilitating each step in the generic remanufacturing process have been identified. A matrix (RemPro) was created to illustrate the relation between each and every generic remanufacturing step and the preferable product properties.
Remanufacturing case studies have shown that the companies performing remanufacturing often have problems with material flows, use of space and high inventory levels. This is often due to the uncertainties in the quality and the number of cores (used products) that will arrive at the remanufacturing plants. To overcome these problems, the remanufacturers need to achieve a better control over the product’s design and use phase, i.e. the life cycle phases that precede the remanufacturing process. This control is best performed by the original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).
Furthermore, it has been found that Swedish manufacturers often have a weak relation between its environmental management systems and product issues, such as design for environment/remanufacturing. Design for environmental/remanufacturing aspects should be a crucial part of the manufacturers environmental management systems (EMSs) as the products stand for much of the material flows at the manufacturing companies. If the external auditors address the manufacturers to have a life cycle perspective on their business the manufacturer would be more likely to adapt the remanufacturing aspects in their environmental management systems.