April 7, 2021
In a crowded world where there’s too much waste slated for landfills, and too few natural resources to go around, remanufacturing is a smart answer to a perplexing problem. Not only does remanufacturing lower costs for customers, but it also reduces the consumption of raw materials and conserves energy during the process.
In its simplest form, Cat® Reman facilitates an exchange business where customers trade a used part for a remanufactured one at a fraction of the price of a new part. Caterpillar then takes the traded-in (core) part, strips it down to the lowest-level component, and puts it through our remanufacturing process. In that process, each unit is disassembled, cleaned and inspected to determine if parts can be reused or salvaged using any number of our state-of-the-art salvage processes such as laser cladding or spray welding. The units are then reassembled in a factory environment, tested to the same specifications and provided a warranty the same as its new counterpart.
This is a similar process to our rebuild process. For a rebuild, the same components are generally kept together, refurbished then reassembled. The process starts with a Cat dealer doing a thorough inspection and evaluation. They receive a list of parts from Caterpillar that must be inspected and/or replaced. They also receive engineering updates and machine enhancements that can add capabilities the machine didn’t have when it was new.
In 1973, Caterpillar became the first company in the U.S. to establish its own captive facility devoted exclusively to remanufacturing mid-range diesel truck engines. The remanufacture of used truck engines on an exchange basis began at that Bettendorf, Iowa, facility, where a sign out front read, "Bring us your tired, your broken … and we'll make it purr again."
The first direct injection truck engine came off the assembly line on March 7, 1973. It was followed by 240 more remanufactured engines by the end of May. At first, the remanufactured Cat engines were sold and serviced through our dealer network in the U.S. and Canada. The dealers offered users a factory remanufactured, dynamometer-tested, and warrantied engine as a repair option. Because of the shortage of trained diesel repair servicemen in some areas, the remanufactured engine provided users with a quality product that could be installed in a matter of hours for minimum downtime.
Facility manager Wes Bracken said at the time, "The concept of remanufacturing the Cat 1100 and 3100 Series Engines has been enthusiastically accepted by Caterpillar dealers across the country. We also expect growing enthusiasm for the program from engine users."
Today, Caterpillar Remanufacturing offers nearly 8,000 unique remanufactured parts numbers. Now 3,600 employees – located in eight global facilities – produce remanufactured parts for eight Caterpillar brands.
Since the initial launch, various technology breakthroughs have allowed Caterpillar to offer an expanded line of reman products. One major development happened in 1985 when technology to remove and install in-cylinder engine components as one unit was unveiled. This invention allowed the customer to replace the liner, piston, and connecting rod as one pre-assembled kit and made the Reman Cylinder Pack possible.
We’re proud that our remanufacturing business has provided customers with quality equipment that delivers the best economic proposition for their business for nearly 50 years now. Our engineering and manufacturing expertise, field population and dealer organization make it possible for us to offer remanufactured products and components through Cat® Reman, Progress Rail Services and Solar Turbines.
Through these businesses, we recycle millions of pounds of end-of-life iron annually. In 2019 alone, 91% of eligible end-of-life returns were collected, totaling 153 million pounds of material.
Because we are in the business of returning end-of-life components to same-as-when-new condition, we reduce waste and minimize the need for raw material, energy and water to produce new parts. Through remanufacturing, we make a significant contribution to sustainable development – extending the value of the energy and water consumed in a component’s original manufacture and keeping high-value nonrenewable resources in circulation for multiple lifetimes.