Research Papers: Design for Manufacture and the Life Cycle

Modeling the Time-Varying Advantages of a Remanufactured Product: Is “Reman” Better Than “Brand New”?1

[+] Author and Article Information
Minjung Kwak

Assistant Professor
Department of Industrial and
Information Systems Engineering,
Soongsil University,
369 Sangdo-ro, Dongjak-gu,
Seoul 156-743, South Korea

Harrison Kim

Associate Professor
Department of Industrial and
Enterprise Systems Engineering,
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign,
117 Transportation Building,
104 S. Mathews Avenue,
Urbana, IL 61801
e-mail: hmkim@illinois.edu

2Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design for Manufacturing Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received November 13, 2014; final manuscript received February 3, 2016; published online March 11, 2016. Assoc. Editor: Gul E. Okudan Kremer.

J. Mech. Des 138(5), 051701 (Mar 11, 2016) (18 pages) Paper No: MD-14-1736; doi: 10.1115/1.4032808 History: Received November 13, 2014; Revised February 03, 2016

In order for remanufacturers to succeed in the market, it is important for them to be capable of ensuring in advance that a product is suitable for remanufacturing and that a remanufactured product will provide greater economic and environmental value than a brand-new product. This paper provides an approach to estimate the economic and environmental advantages of a remanufactured product. Focusing on the fact that advantages are greatly influenced by the nature of a product (i.e., its design and lifetime characteristics) as well as the timing of the remanufacturing, this paper proposes a model for assessing the time-varying advantages of remanufacturing a given product. The model provides an objective, quantitative method to compare a remanufactured product with an equivalent brand-new version of the product. Focus is placed on three perspectives: unit production cost, environmental impact, and net profit. By providing a multidimensional assessment tool for measuring product remanufacturability, the model is expected to assist remanufacturers make informed and effective decisions concerning product planning. It also helps marketing activities by supporting an effective sustainability communication with customers. Two versions of the model are presented, each of which targets a specific product type: (1) a product with only physical deterioration and (2) a product with both physical deterioration and technological obsolescence. Each version of the model is illustrated by utilizing an automotive alternator and a desktop computer, respectively.

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Fig. 1

Overview of the proposed model

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Fig. 3

The environmental advantage of the remanufactured alternator

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Fig. 4

The net profit advantage of the remanufactured alternator (β = 0.7)

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Fig. 2

The cost advantage of the remanufactured alternator

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Fig. 5

β* where the remanufactured and brand-new alternators are equally profitable

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Fig. 6

The cost advantage of the remanufactured PC

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Fig. 10

β* where the remanufactured and brand-new PCs are equally profitable

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Fig. 11

Sensitivity analysis: change of β* under varied settings for cost parameters

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Fig. 14

Effect of changing the target specifications for the remanufactured product

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Fig. 12

Increase in the cost advantage when the part physical reusability is improved by 5% point

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Fig. 13

Increase in the environmental advantage when the part physical reusability is improved by 5% point

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Fig. 7

The environmental advantage of the remanufactured PC

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Fig. 8

α* and γ* where the remanufactured and brand-new PCs are equally green

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Fig. 9

The net profit advantage of the remanufactured PC (β = 0.7)



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