During the Automechanika in Frankfurt, on Friday 16 September, the European Remanufacturing Network hosted a workshop on remanufacturing in the car industry. Some fifteen participants with remanufacturing expertise discussed the big challenges ahead, however they all agreed there is great potential for remanufacturing in the future of the industry. ABN AMRO, who presented their latest vision paper on the future of the automotive industry, written in collaboration with Circle Economy, underlined that there is a need for more remanufacturing if we are to make the circular car industry a reality.
Erik Sundin, associate professor at Linköping University, introduced the topic of remanufacturing and the “win-win-win” that a company can achieve in terms of profit, policy and the environment. In the discussion that followed, a number of barriers that prevent remanufacturing from taking place on a large scale were mentioned by the participants. These include:
- Mindset of OEMs
- Benefits of remanufacturing are not understood and accepted
- Remanufacturing companies are not visible
- Market simply demands cheaper products and parts
- Gaining access to cores (i.e. used products) is difficult
- Trade barriers
- Suppliers don’t want to share engineering info about their products, so companies need to reverse engineer
A more in-depth discussion, led by Ben Kubbinga from Circle Economy, focused on two key barriers that all participants face: 1) changing the traditional mindset of OEMs, 2) gaining access to cores. Download the key takeaways from the discussion here.
The workshop was concluded by David Kemps, from ABN AMRO, with a look into the future of the automotive industry. “Remanufacturing”, says David, “will be one of the key circular strategies that the automotive industry will have to adopt, if they want to react to the rapidly changing consumer demands”. In the report “On the Road to the Circular Car”, published last month by ABN AMRO in collaboration with Circle Economy, it is argued that the current shift from ownership to access models, combined with the demand for smart, connected cars – a “smartphone on wheels” – will push OEMs to rethink their business models and production processes (see also this article in The Guardian).
Circular strategies like modular design, use of used and recyclable materials, life-time extension, smart take-back schemes, remanufacturing and high value recycling will become the new standard. This view was supported by Thijs Jasink from ACtronics, a remanufacturer of car electronic components, who said that “circularity is the way to go for the automotive industry”.