Helen Hauck chats to Ann-Sofie Wulfsberg and Andreas Gustafsson from Volvo Group about their initiatives aimed at saving resources, money, waste, and time in the remanufacturing process.
Volvo Group has been manufacturing, selling, and servicing commercial vehicles for nearly 100 years. Likewise, the Volvo Remanufacturing division is not a new initiative. The idea began in Volvo repair shops, when core components were replaced, and engineers wondered what could be done with the “scrap” parts.
As a result, a network to collect components from around the world has been put in place and operating since the 1950s, to remanufacture these components back to the same quality as newly manufactured ones.
Originally just economically advantageous, the program has now been revamped to focus on environmental sustainability as well, embracing the circular economy. Remanufacturing has also grown in popularity because of the supply chain crisis resulting from the global pandemic.
According to Andreas, there are four key building blocks for remanufacturing. The first, design, is to think about remanufacture in in the earliest stages of component production. Secondly, putting in place a system to collect these components which are on the market. Third is salvation processes and techniques, making sure you can reuse as much as possible, using as few new parts as possible. Finally, there is the commercial dimension, to help customers make a conscious choice by being informative in marketing and setting an attractive price structure for the customer.
A common phrase at Volvo Remanufacturing is “win-win-win” referring to the environment, customer, and business. Benefits to all three parties include less CO2, and less energy usage (an 80% reduction for remanufacturing). Additionally, there is the lower total cost of ownership, and uptime gains resulting from the remanufacturing approach. Further, older products that may not be being manufactured new anymore are able to continue their productive life through remanufacturing, saving replacement costs.
Intensifying the remanufacturing is an objective of the Volvo sustainability program. Aiming to grow the of remanufacturing business by 60% by 2025, this process involves growing in segments where they are already placed, but also new areas such as electromobility. Opportunities for various types of circular businesses are present-second life in batteries, for example. However, there is also more to be done with batteries before second life, thanks to remanufacturing.
There is a great opportunity for Volvo to make a large difference by reusing the materials of existing components, first repair to restore functionality, secondly remanufacturing to restore to as good as new in combination with repurpose for second life and recycling. The opportunities are many to circular material in use.
Other initiatives include dismantling in recycling, creating further value by extracting precious metals before recycling takes place. Volvo Group is also setting objectives to meet the requirements of the Paris agreement, reducing CO2 footprint in all their manufacturing facilities, to become CO2 neutral by 2050.