Taking Reman to the Next Level

September 3, 2020

Caterpillar’s remanufacturing and rebuild options deliver multiple sustainability benefits and help Caterpillar contribute to the circular economy. While remanufacturing is a process that occurs in the latter phases of the product lifecycle, the potential success is highly dependent upon decisions made at the earliest stages of product life. For example, a design engineer who creates an electronics component using glue joints rather than screw joints may provide a cost reduction in the initial manufacturing of the product but could make the component harder to inspect and disassemble down the line.

That’s why Cat® Reman takes a “design for remanufacturing” approach, designing key products that allow for remanufacturing from the very start. This approach recognizes that the remanufacturing cycle begins long before an end-of-life component is returned to a Caterpillar facility. Rather, the cycle commences when engineers make some of their earliest decisions about part materials, thicknesses, bearings and more in order to reduce the cost, effort and resources needed to remanufacture major parts and components for multiple lives.

Design has always been part of the remanufacturing process. But as Caterpillar grows services, including our Cat Reman business, we are expanding the education we provide to employees about how they can facilitate the remanufacturing cycle. We offer two formal courses for Caterpillar employees: Reman 100 and Reman 101.

Reman 100 is a three-hour class focused on the importance of design for remanufacturing.  The course is held several times per year and is open to all Caterpillar employees. Its purpose is to create a foundational understanding of the remanufacturing business, terminology, and why remanufacturing is important to dealers, customers, and Caterpillar. Participants are also introduced to some of the tools and resources available to help them design products for remanufacturing.

Reman 101, meanwhile, is geared toward team members whose decisions have the greatest impact on profitability for both Cat Reman and our business partners, such as product managers and life-cycle managers. This two-day event showcases the scale of remanufacturing and provides a deeper dive into core processing and salvage development. The course takes place at our Corinth, Mississippi plant, where employees have the opportunity to view remanufacturing operations firsthand. Through these training programs, we’re empowering employees to make reman a priority in daily decision making.

In addition to education and awareness, we’re also using technology to expand our remanufacturing capabilities. For example, the Cat Reman Analytics team created a digital Yield Dashboard that showed operators the percentage of parts recovered during inspection operations for every inspection workstation. This insight led to more awareness and self-management of inspection work, which in turn has enabled a more consistent process. We are also exploring the use of advanced technologies such as robotics for salvaging and machine vision systems that can make rapid and accurate decisions about whether a core can be remanufactured.

While remanufacturing has been a thriving business for more than 45 years at Caterpillar, we’re continually finding ways to do it even better. We’re excited about new opportunities to engage our employees on this important function and create value for our customers, dealers, company, and planet. 

For more on Caterpillar’s remanufacturing efforts, check out our Sustainability Report.