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Old Becomes New: Boom Market Remanufacturing

Conservation of resources and climate protection are closely intertwined. The absolute consumption of raw materials in industrialized countries is too high from an ecological point of view. How can production be made more efficient and the demand for natural resources reduced? In order to make a maximum contribution towards climate protection over the entire life cycle, IAV relies – alongside a large number of innovative technology and mobility concepts – on the remanufacturing of so-called old parts.

iav story graph automotion remanufacturing

Conservation of resources and climate protection are closely intertwined. The absolute consumption of raw materials in industrialized countries is too high from an ecological point of view. How can production be made more efficient and the demand for natural resources reduced? In order to make a maximum contribution towards climate protection over the entire life cycle, IAV relies – alongside a large number of innovative technology and mobility concepts – on the remanufacturing of so-called old parts.

The goal of remanufacturing is praiseworthy and ambitious: It is intended to return products and components to a state as good as new or in line with their current value after their regular useful life and, thus, enable them to be reused. The procedure saves resources, energy and costs and makes an important contribution towards sustainable product life cycles. The Federal Government and the European Union also support this type of recycling management.

Probably the best known example of remanufacturing in the automotive sector is retreaded tires, which are particularly relevant for commercial vehicles. Since 2015, IAV has been developing the key processes for industrial remanufacturing of complex systems and components, for example in the fields of logistics, parts management, functional testing and validation of vehicle parts such as exhaust gas turbochargers (ATLs), automatic transmissions or complete engines.

Defective old parts are remanufactured using methods adapted to the product and, thus, allow for safe reuse in accordance with general and individual OEM design and safety guidelines. For process development, IAV draws on its experience gained from decades of developing conventional drivetrains.

Today, remanufacturing has established itself alongside pre-production and series development as an attractive and sustainable sector in the specialist field of combustion engines. In retrospect, exhaust-gas turbocharged internal combustion engines replaced naturally aspirated engines in the wake of stricter fuel and emission standards. As a result, the demand for spare parts for components such as ATLs, some of which are very expensive (approx. 1,000 euros new price plus installation costs), increased significantly and reconditioning developed into a viable alternative.

iav story automotion remanufacturing horizontal

Better CO2 balance, lower costs

“The remanufacturing of components improves the life cycle assessment and reduces costs”, says Dr. Mirko Leesch, Head of the Internal Combustion Engines and Fuel Systems Department. “This is an important topic for our customers and it will become even more important in light of the growing importance of the carbon footprint of OEM production chains and the generally high cost pressure.”

In line with the Paris Climate Conference of 2015, most countries in the world have committed themselves to continuously reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and have set themselves consistent decarbonization targets to be achieved by 2050 at the latest.

Subsequently, the OEMs declared electric mobility to be an essential building block for CO2-neutral mobility. However, a comprehensive consideration of the entire life cycle, including production and recycling at the end of the vehicle’s service life,
makes it clear that battery-electric vehicles (BEVs) do not meet the climate targets per se due to their energy-intensive production and disposal and the currently available electricity mix, and that other technologies and measures are also required to meet the CO2 target.

Focus on e-mobility, HV storage and BEV drivers

In IAV’s view, such a measure is consistent remanufacturing: The ongoing electrification of fleets with a focus on BEVs will give the general overhaul and repair market a qualitative boost. According to Leesch, the remanufacturing of expensive components such as battery modules or cells will be in greater demand in the future, particularly for high-voltage (HV) storage systems for BEVs.

«We want to help shape the change process towards e-mobility and more sustainability with our expertise and specific know-how.»

Jan Becker — Department of Internal Combustion Engine Development

Before defective electrical components are reworked, they must be tested for their suitability for remanufacturing according to strict specifications. IAV’s modern test benches, which use intelligent test methods to set benchmarks for both battery-electric and combustion-engine drives, are predestined for such measurements.

“We have very complex knowledge of test methods and the relevant processes in remanufacturing”, says Jan Becker from the Department of Internal Combustion Engine Development. “We want to help shape the change process towards e-mobility and more sustainability with our expertise and specific know-how.”

VDI sees exorbitant growth until 2030

With a view to the planned expansion of the e-vehicle range within the next ten years, OEMs must now begin to prepare replacement and spare parts, establish appropriate processes and set up contingents. IAV can provide optimum support for these OEM activities, thanks to the in-depth knowledge gained from pre-series and series development and accompany the anticipated market ramp-up. The focus here is on electrical systems and high-voltage technology. This is partly because the market is growing particularly strongly in this area and partly because the potential for savings for OEMs is particularly high in this area.

«Clean and sustainable mobility starts in development and goes beyond the classic life cycle of vehicles.»

Jan Becker — Department of Internal Combustion Engine Development

According to a research report published in December 2019, the Association of German Engineers (VDI) expects sales from the reconditioning and resale of used parts and components in Germany to increase to at least 43 billion euros in 2030, up from the current figure of around 8.7 billion euros per year. Two thirds of this business is accounted for by the aviation and automotive industries.

“At the moment, we are sharpening up the processes, especially for all e-traction components, in order to support vehicle manufacturers and suppliers in all powertrain remanufacturing issues”, says Becker, adding: “Clean and sustainable mobility starts in development and goes beyond the classic life cycle of vehicles.”

The article was published in automotion 02/2020, the automotive engineering magazine of IAV. Here you can order the automotion free of charge.

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