Remanufacturing is an odd process in that it contains all the complexities of new manufacturing as well as utilizing a supply chain that moves in both directions. It’s a circular progression; production costs are variable, and you can face high inventory levels of potentially useless materials. Worn parts complete the circle from returned core to remanufactured product to customer and then back to core returns, creating ever-shifting customer and supplier roles. Much like any other industry, high quality remanufactured products face stiff competition from poor quality alternatives. After decades of remanufacturing heavy-duty fuel injection systems for some of the heaviest duty engines in the world, we have discovered several hints that you may find helpful.
- Experience matters. Just because you can take it apart doesn’t mean you can remanufacture it. Often there are details that are so minute and miniscule that they are easily overlooked. Have you ever put something back together to find you had an“extra” screw left over? Sure, the item may look and even briefly function as it should, but will it stand the test of time? Experience knows.
- Learn, train, teach, and then mentor. Learning pays dividends for a long time. With a strong knowledge base and team of mentors who have traveled the road before you, you’ll possess the confidence that is necessary to make the dozens of judgment calls that are required to remanufacture a complex part. For example, every core and every component must be evaluated for reuse, repair, or replacement; and then assembled and tested to exacting standards. Be open to learning. Ask questions. You may be surprised to find that some of your very best teachers (besides experience) will include your suppliers, customers, audit teams, consultants, and the media. Most importantly, share what you have learned.
- Reman is a team sport, although ideally all of business should be thought of as such. It’s why we practice open book management and The Great Game of Business. However, the twist in remanufacturing is that it’s a highly variable process. Variable factors include a solid supply of good core, yields in the qualification process, test results, sales cycles, product cycles, as well as getting the core back to start again. The only stable predictability – and as a result success – comes from the team, which includes your suppliers and customers, working together across all lines to smooth the variances. If they’re not winning, you can’t win.
- Remanufacturing is a lot of fun. Seriously if you’re not having a great time, you’re missing the point. Yes, there are problems everywhere, and we have solutions. When we work together to solve an issue, or we experience a win, we celebrate, and then we play another round.
We didn’t invent any of this, large credit goes to our teachers. From The Great Game of Business by Jack Stack, our associates, our industry associations, our suppliers, and of course to our customers– we’ve benefited from their experience, learning, team building, and fun. Find out more about the start of open-book management in remanufacturing and the Great Game Business here.