Remanufacturing is a circular business model that enables us to reduce the consumption of new materials, while also minimizing the downtime of our customers' equipment. At Konecranes, accelerating circularity is one of the key enablers of the company's climate agenda. Circularity not only reduces environmental impacts of industrial manufacturing but also redefines business models, fosters innovation, and reshapes the way we use and manage resources.
One of Konecranes’ sustainability commitments is enabling a decarbonized and circular world. We are constantly exploring new ways to apply the principles of circularity, and at the same time, we strive to reduce the carbon footprint of our products. Remanufacturing is a service concept that combines these ambitions.
So what exactly is remanufacturing? Simply put, it means that instead of replacing a complete product or part with a new one, the product is repaired in a Konecranes service center in a manner that makes it as good as new. The difference compared to ‘regular’ repair work is that a remanufactured product has the same expected lifetime and durability as a new product, regardless of how long it has been in use before remanufacturing.
“Konecranes is committed to examining at least three projects with potential to promote circularity each year, and this is one of them. We are currently exploring the business opportunities, environmental benefits, and commercial viability of our components’ remanufacturing, and we have already seen some promising results. Compared to manufacturing a new product, remanufacturing provides benefits to customers and saves natural resources,” says Antti Kivari, Vice President, Global Parts Supply.
Use case: remanufacturing a rope drum
One example of a successful application is the rope drum used in heavy duty cranes. Drums are used to pull in and store the ropes used in lifting. A service technician called to examine a crane may see that the rope drum is approaching the end of its lifecycle. Remanufacturing is one more complementary option for the customer, in addition to Konecranes’ new hoist and spare parts offering. Remanufacturing the existing rope drum can save weeks of customers’ downtime.
The remanufacturing process for the rope drum begins with pre-machining to flatten the grooved area. This phase is followed by filler welding, which can be done with great precision due to the pre-machining, creating an even surface.
“It is our principle that cranes must operate safely with minimal downtime. Therefore, the speed of the process is a clear customer benefit from remanufacturing. However, it is by no means the only one. Compared to manufacturing a new component, remanufacturing an existing one reduces the carbon footprint – in the case of the rope drum, our initial calculations show a reduction of nearly one-third. Remanufacturing also reduces raw material usage and potentially climate impact. The sustainability benefits are visible both on a component and the crane level, and for the customer operating it,” says Kivari.
Environmental benefits of remanufacturing
The climate impacts involved with remanufacturing are being analyzed by Konecranes’ Sustainability & Analytics team (Read more about the team here). The team carries out climate impact assessment or more broader Lifecycle assessment (LCA). The experts use standardized methodology and data. In most cases, the LCAs are reviewed by a third party.
The studies provide fact-based information on the product’s environmental impact during its different lifecycle phases from cradle-to-grave. The main reason for applying LCA is to compare different business concepts, identify life cycle stages, processes and components with high environmental impacts. By doing this, businesses can implement measures to reduce our CO2 emissions. As sustainability legislation in the EU is becoming stricter, customers have more requests with accurate and reliable environmental information concerning our products and services.
“Our preliminary climate impact analysis of rope drum remanufacturing shows very promising results. Remanufacturing is good for the environment as it keeps materials in use longer, as well reduces the need for virgin steel material to be used in rope drum manufacturing” Marja Myllysilta from the Sustainability & Analytics team says.
“It’s important to tackle the environmental impact early on in the process so that the results can be shared and used in decision-making. Getting all the necessary data for the analysis requires various kinds of expertise and I am proud that we have great cooperation across functions to make this work possible”.
Customers expect an offering geared towards sustainability
Customers are already incorporating sustainability and environmental requirements into their purchasing decisions along with cost, quality, and availability as they want to reduce their scope 3 emissions from the entire value chain. The expectation is that the attention on environmental topics will continue to strengthen. In the future, sustainability will not be a driver of added value – it will be a prerequisite for doing business at all.
Konecranes is embracing the broader sustainability agenda and supports its customers in achieving their ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) targets. To promote circularity, we are innovating and reshaping our offering for customers. Remanufacturing is one great example of this work.
“The remanufacturing process embodies the values of circular economy and keeps material in use more efficiently while reducing the need for virgin material. Customers around the world expect their partners to develop their offering in a sustainable direction – to save material and energy and to minimize emissions. We strive to live up to these expectations. One of Konecranes’ strategic targets is to halve the emissions from own operations and the value chain by 2030, and accelerating circularity is one means to reach that target,” Anniina Virta-Toikka, Head of Sustainability at Konecranes, concludes.