To achieve general sustainability in all manufacturing processes, tighter regulations from the states are implemented in an effort to promote environmental conservation, changing trends for customer prevalence for environmentally friendly products. This is as a result of various known and emerging issues, for instance, the depletion of non-renewable resources. Of great importance is that the manufacturing industry that constitutes a basic pillar for industrial economies should attain sustainability to ensure the continuity of the high standards of living. This has been realized in industrialized communities to allow developing societies to progress sustainably (Golinska-Dawson 4). Sustainability improvement efforts should be of significance to all levels, including economic, environmental, and societal.
John Deere Reman carries out its business through a process in which used components are disassembled and assessed for potential problems. After these procedures, all failed and essential parts are replaced with high-quality components (Johnson and Chandrasekhar 2). This process is important in two ways: first, it provides a reduced cost alternative to purchasing new components. Second, remanufacturing presents critical environmental and societal advantages. The process allows for resource conservation, recycling, control of pollution, and the overall conservation of energy through reduced raw material requirements, the reutilization of the existing parts, and limiting inputs.
Analysis of the Challenges in Remanufacturing
Despite the benefits of remanufacturing, John Deere Reman faces various operational challenges that need to be taken into account to remain in business. The company reports that it has been experiencing reduced core return rates over the previous year, resulting in a possibility of parts shortages (Johnson and Chandrasekhar 3). Antosz and Ratnayake point out that due to increased global competition, manufacturing systems have become much more complex (212).
Consequently, optimal provisions of spare parts are critical for sustainability and gaining operational competitiveness. The manufacturing industry faces the challenge of forecasting intermittent demand for essential spare parts because, often, unexpected breakdowns occur, which creates an acute shortage and causes the unreliability of the manufacturing process. Manufacturers should apply a system perspective to carry out prioritization of spare parts (Antosz and Ratnayake 213). Thus, to promote manufacturing efficiency and reliability, periodic critical analyses are a crucial element of the work process.
The sourcing of the core is part of the circular economy and is majorly affected by remanufacturing lead times. Therefore, addressing remanufacturing lead time would be helpful in addressing many remanufacturing challenges. The current remanufacturing process lead time does not allow for optimal extraction of raw materials, requires numerous raw materials, and increases the time to return the core to the next consumer for a useful life. Lean production has been presented as an approach capable of alleviating some of the remanufacturing challenges. Lean brings about several tools and principles that promote operational efficiency, address the problem of unnecessary waste, and enhance general productivity in remanufacturing (Kurilova-Palisaitiene et al. 3225).
Marodin et al. mention relevant goals that lean production promotes in a company (380). To adapt this to the case in question, one can note the following objectives: to increase quality, reduce lead time, lower costs, enhance safety, and promote employee morale.
Several uncertainties are problems that are related to core availability, quality, and timing. Remanufacturers are more likely to have variable and prolonged lead times than manufactures. In manufacturing, variable and prolonged lead times may lead to substantial losses in companies’ processes and cause greater process costs. However, in remanufacturing, the acquisition and holding of the core present lower costs, which implies prolonged lead times can be tolerated (Johnson et al. 138).
Typical lead times can be up to 350 days, and this long period may be due to inventory storing. Variable and prolonged lead times for the remanufacturing process originate from the irregular transmission of information and materials and other challenges, for instance, waiting for a driver or internal logistics. There are situations accompanied by damaged core; therefore, more time is needed to compensate for the lower quality core effectively and prolong lead times (Kurilova-Palisaitiene 3229). John Deere Reman should be able to control the process, promote process improvements, and enhance the level of customer satisfaction to acquire stable process time.
The core deposit-based system employed by John Deere Reman presents considerable lead time, and hence, addressing it would be beneficial in maintaining a balance between supply and demand. Since the company is experiencing a decline in core availability, John Deere Reman may be forced to acquire cores from manufactures while it is experiencing few or no sales of the remanufactured components. However, this action will contribute to making increased investments in cores before they begin to stabilize once more. A good way of minimizing the level of investments is to limit the lead times between when components are returned by the user and the time when they will be presented for sale.
The algorithm of remanufacturing is a process that takes place in stages. Lahrour and Brissaud provide the following phases: the introduction phase, the growth phase, and the maturity phase (143). John Deere Reman has already attained the maturity phase; therefore, experiencing declines in cores implies that this is potentially developing into a decline phase. This phase is characterized by challenges in acquiring core for remanufacturing, while the demand for remanufactured items may increase (Lahrour and Brissaud 143).
There occurs the decline or cancelation phase in which there are increased volumes of remanufacturing as a result of original equipment manufacturers cutting the production of new products or spare parts. In these cases, such components need to be replaced by remanufactured ones. This phase, thus, presents a potential challenge of obsolescence, particularly for firms that observe make-to-stock policies (Hadj et al. 1199). To address the challenge of obsolescence, the company should employ make-to-order policies of some portions of the equipment in question, thereby minimizing the need to keep a complete equipment inventory.
The user needs to be ready to remanufacturing; nevertheless, such an approach is helpful when cores are not readily available. A make-to-order policy is also important when clients require customized products and when there is a prolonged waiting time for the equipment to be sent (Hadj et al. 1199). Thus, to address all the conditions successfully, the remanufacturing process should be based on specific phases and measures to satisfy buyers’ needs.
One of the strategies to acquire cores is the cannibalization of components from the end of life and end of use. Cannibalization is the process of extracting a component of a product that can be useful in repair from another similar product as opposed to getting from the inventory (Wakiru et al. 900). This is a strategy that can be utilized for the acquisition of core and is helpful in a situation when there is urgency in meeting operational needs, challenges in acquiring spare parts, and personnel shortage (Wakiru et al. 901). Lower levels of product testing can also promote the strategy of cannibalization.
Due to increased competition for the available core and considering their limited supply, companies may be forced to acquire a high amount of core even if there no demand at that particular moment. However, this outcome carries risks because the anticipated demand may never come. Furthermore, the product may become obsolete and cause financial losses, and John Deere Reman should take these factors into account.
The major problem that causes significant operational challenges in John Deere Reman is attaining a steady supply of cores. My analysis, therefore, reveals that addressing challenges involving the acquisition of cores would solve most of the problems in the company and ensure sustained profits. The following list of recommendations is a summary of the potential solutions to the issues in question:
- John Deere Reman should embrace lean strategies for enhancing the efficiency of the remanufacturing process. The lean concept enhances business operations by utilizing continuous improvement. Lean strategies can address the constraint of lead time and quality remanufactured equipment comparable to a new product. Lean approaches can increase the degree of automation, enhance manufacturing volumes, and promote planning, thereby shortening lead time and maintaining favorable competition with manufacturers.
- Due to increased competition for the available core and considering their limited supply, John Deere Reman may be forced to acquire cores even if there no demand at that particular moment.
- To address the challenge of obsolescence, the company should employ a make-to-order policy of some portions of the equipment in question effectively.
- Cannibalization is a strategy that can be applied for the acquisition of cores. In case of urgency in meeting operational needs, challenges in acquiring spare parts, and personnel shortage, this approach is favorable.
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