Remanufacturing – the green approach that is cost-effective and good for the environment

Remanufacturing compressors, as opposed to manufacturing from new, is arguably the greenest approach to renewing refrigeration and air conditioning equipment.
It avoids the energy intensive processes of smelting steel from raw materials in the creation of the main compressor body and secondary components. While some elements of a compressor are of course replaced with new during remanufacturing, including the motor and electrical system, the largest element – the compressor casing itself – is normally retained and reengineered to as-new specification.
This saves both the raw materials and energy that would have been expended in the production of a new unit. It also significantly reduces the miles travelled by a compressor in its journey from factory to the final customer, as remanufacturing centres are normally located within their home marketplace and do not require long-distance shipping by sea or road. This again results in saved carbon and reduces environmental impact. Viewed from a total life cycle perspective, therefore, a remanufactured compressor can be seen to have a significantly smaller carbon footprint than an otherwise identical new unit.
In the retail sector, we have become accustomed to the concept of the carbon footprint of food, representing the sum total of the greenhouse gas emissions produced by growing, rearing, farming, processing, transporting, storing, cooking and final disposal. Indeed, green consumers are increasingly paying attention to the carbon footprint of the food they choose to eat.
Given the increasing focus and concern over energy and raw materials, it is not too far-fetched to envisage a similar approach being adopted in future to buildings and their plant and engineering infrastructure. In this scenario, remanufactured compressors provide an environmentally attractive and cost-effective solution as part of a more sustainable future.
The reality at the present time is that the economic benefits and speed of availability are the main drivers behind the remanufactured compressor business. Sustainability factors are certainly a part of the picture, and “nice to have”, but are not currently the primary considerations for buyers.
A vital issue remains the quality of the remanufactured product. The primary objective, of course, is to ensure that a remanufactured unit performs as well and as reliably as a new unit. It is the reason Bitzer has invested in establishing Green Point, a global network of remanufacturing centres dedicated to the highest possible standards of engineering and customer service.
In the UK, which has a fairly mature and developed remanufacturing sector, Green Point has found a ready market among contractors and end users keen to entrust reinstatement of units to the original manufacturer’s specification.
This is reflected in a growing volume of work, with the level of business in 2015 doubling compared with 2014. Based on current forecasts, we anticipate doubling output again this year. To support this, we have already recruited additional staff and expect to do so again this year.
Alongside, we are continually assessing our testing and diagnostic services to make sure we maintain our lead in this key area, in line with today’s increasingly intelligent ranges of inverter-controlled Bitzer compressors. Planned investment in testing and diagnostic facilities will also enable us to deliver remanufactured units made by other brands to the same exemplary standards as our own Bitzer compressors.
At the time of launch, Green Point UK handled only Bitzer products. However, we recently expanded the service to include compressors made by a number of other well-known manufacturers, such as Bock, Carrier, Copeland, and Trane.
This is a perfectly logical progression for both ourselves and the market, as customers tell us they appreciate the outstanding quality of our Bitzer units, and are keen to have access to similar high quality remanufactured compressors from other manufacturers. It goes without saying that we adopt the same uncompromising approach to standards as with our own equipment.
The greening of the refrigeration and air conditioning industry has perhaps been one of the most significant factors shaping the sector over the last 30 years. Changes related to refrigerants and the environment have been in the driving seat. However, as the new generation of natural and low Global Warming Potential solutions replace the previous generation of refrigerants, it is likely that energy efficiency and managing raw materials will come fully to the fore. Indeed, this is already happening.
As these concerns come into focus, and become codified in legislation, we are likely to see further growth in the already strong UK remanufacturing sector. Given the recent substantial investments made, Green Point is well positioned to respond.
For more details, please contact Will Pribyl at will.pribyl@greenpointuk.co.uk or call 08454 603007. Or visit www.greenpointuk.co.uk