A Spectrum

Any company already in the reverse-engineering, or thinking to enter into reverse-engineering activities, should look at them as a spectrum of possibilities, and that strategies can be made either towards remanufacturing or towards maintenance. For instance, it may make sense for a company that is already working in refurbishment, to actually start developing activities to the 'left' of the spectrum - in maintenance - rather than looking to moving 'right,' to recondition or remanufacturing for example. A Remanufacturer, in many cases, has the ability to choose the most appropriate process they want to follow for each end-of-cycle product that enters their facility, whereas, a Refurbisher does not often have this same luxury. And so, a remanufacturer can also add more activities to the left - and they often do so naturally, as reconditioning frequently makes a lot of sense for many of the recaptured products.

…don’t repair what is not broken, don’t remanufacture what can be repaired, don’t recycle what can be remanufactured. [1]

Choosing the right intervention from the spectrum of options (reverse-engineering process and/or Inventory/Cannibalisation) for the specific end-of-cycle product, is key to economic success. But what is the right intervention? Is it the most cost efficient, or the best for the environment? Can it be both? To make it both, each and every product/component/material that enters into the revalue process needs to be screened with a efficient and effective process, that is able to identify the right course of action for revaluing each good. As Stahel highlights, 'don't repair what is not broken,' underlines the critical point that it may seem more efficient to develop bulk processes for all situations, but this may cause a lot of waste (materials and time), and so, effective systems need to be in place, whereby companies can be flexible, product-by-product, so that the right solution is made for the right problem each time; whilst connecting this to tight feed-loops that assess the screening criteria and the results of the interventions that were made.

References

[1] Stahel, Walter R. (28 January 2013) 'Policy for material efficiency - sustainable taxation as a departure from the throwaway society.' Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, The Royal Society Publishing. http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/371/1986/20110567 (Accessed on February 2016)

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