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Scrap happens, but does it have to? On the potential of increasing machine component reuse

Derek Diener (Institutionen för teknikens ekonomi och organisation, Miljösystemanalys)
Gothenburg : Chalmers University of Technology, 2017. ISBN: 978-91-7597-618-1.

The vision of the “circular economy” provides some guidelines for society to strive towards. In the circular economy, material resources are used and reused and recycled better, if not endlessly. Products are to require less material and deliver more function. In industry, manufacturers of all types of products and parts have started to investigate how they and their products can fit in.

 The purpose of this study was to address the question – What can a component manufacturer do to improve the resource efficiency of its products through extending product lifetime and improving end-of-use management? To answer this question, the study focused on the key product of one component manufacturer, a bearing, a part that is used in many things mechanical. Mixed methods were utilized including material flow analyses to quantify downstream bearing material flows and interviews with customers of the component manufacturer to provide explanations about the fate of bearings, their obsolescence, and the possibility to remanufacture and reuse more of them and recycle them in a better way.

 Results of the study reveal that there are large opportunities for the component manufacturer to remanufacture more and that there are sizable environmental benefits to doing so. Most notably, bearings in industrial use oftentimes become scrap not because they fail but because an end-user deems them to be untrustworthy. In these situations, remanufacturing offers a way to restore the bearings but often, end-users do not choose that option.  End-users make obsolescence and remanufacturing decisions with consideration to risks at the system-level and their ability to make a thorough assessment is limited by lack of time and information. These and other lessons learned from this study demonstrate the kind of low-hanging fruit that component manufacturers may have but indicate that picking it may require changes to the way they do business.

Nyckelord: remanufacturing, obsolescence,reuse, circular economy, component

Denna post skapades 2017-08-18. Senast ändrad 2017-08-21.
CPL Pubid: 251278