The process of remanufacturing components helps save raw materials and ultimately money for the customer. Educating the end-user about the difference between a component that has simply been rebuilt versus one that has been remanufactured is important from an OEM level as well as at the dealership's parts counter.
When it comes to remanufacturing, a number of original-equipment component suppliers offer the service. ZF has been in North America for a quarter of a century, and began a formal remanufacturing program during the 1990s. Today, most of ZF's OEM customers participate in the program.
The pieces of a remanufacturing program are first put in place to support warranty work,' says Tim Gauer, product support manager, Off-Road Driveline Technology, ZF Sales & Service North America, Vernon Hills, IL. 'As a particular line matures, the market is not only able to support the program, but customers start requesting it. By this time ZF is able to keep an inventory of seed units on the shelf.'
ZF-manufactured components such as transmissions and axles are remanufactured in Vernon Hills. Torque converters are now also remanufactured on site, thanks to ZF's 2001 acquisition of Sachs.
ZF's remanufacturing program is virtually invisible to the end-user, although the dealer selling the component may disclose where the work will be done. The end-user will order the remanufactured replacement part using the OEM's numbering system. At Vernon Hills, the transmission, for example, will be pulled from inventory and shipped to the dealer.
Save your core
When the core arrives at ZF's Vernon Hills facility, a process begins that has been streamlined over the years with lean manufacturing ' techniques generally reserved for manufacturing brand-new parts.
First, the returned core is cleaned and disassembled. Skilled technicians give the parts a visual inspection to determine first whether the core is rebuildable, and what parts will need to be replaced. Parts requiring replacement are ordered, and because they're often available on the shelf at the same address (which is ZF's North American parts distribution center), very little time is spent waiting on the shipment.
The same technician stays with the project from beginning to end to ensure quality, and whenever possible each individual component stays with the transmission in which it was originally used. The component's serial number and the record of its work is kept on file indefinitely.
The latest information
Once complete, the remanufactured component is given a complete test that can take up to four hours (the transmission is run up to operating temperature). The test is peformed on equipment designed and built by ZF, with access to the latest in technical data from ZF headquarters in Germany.
Having access to the latest information is of the advantages ZF provides its OEM customers of the remanufacturing program, says Gauer. It's one that has become increasingly important as transmissions become more complex.
The technicians working on the transmission have access to specifications unique to the component and its application as well as any upgrades in performance that can be applied to the part. Ultimately the remanufacturing component that get shipped to the dealer may be better than the core when it was new.