Dr Jacqueline Balfour, Business Development Manager at the Scottish Institute for Remanufacture reflects on the growing importance of remanufacturing to the Scottish economy.
What is the circular economy?
In its simplest form, the circular economy focuses on moving away from a throwaway society towards a model where products are designed and manufactured to be reused, repaired, recycled, reconditioned and remanufactured. This increases product lifecycle, cuts costs and stops wastage of finite resources.
Good question. Everyone is aware of recycling where a product is taken back to its constituent raw materials. Take an engine as an example. Recycling would melt it down for the metals, a repair would fix a specific fault, and while you can take an engine from a scrapped car and re-use it, in its existing condition, in a different car, you could also remanufacture an engine and bring it back to like-new condition.
Terminology varies, depending on the sector: servicing, overhauling, reconditioning, refurbishing… but at the end of the day, they all describe the same or very similar process that extends the useful life of a product and from a remanufacturing perspective the resulting product has the same quality as an equivalent new product.
The global use of raw materials is set to rise to 140 billion tonnes per year by 2050, three times what it was in 2000 (UN) exceeding the limits of the entire planet.
It is predicted there will not be enough raw materials to satisfy this need. This will increase volatility in the prices of raw materials and in turn jeopardise the supply chain which poses considerable risk to businesses.
Adopting circular economy principles will unlock new potential for business growth that isn’t dependant on resource constraints and will eliminate price volatility, reduce pressure on resources significantly and avert adverse effects on the economy overall.
Remanufacturing cuts across many sectors in Scotland, with significant activity in aerospace, automotive and energy. In addition to this there are several sectors with strong growth potential for remanufacturing including ICT, medical equipment, furniture and rail.
The remanufacturing market is worth an estimated £1.1 billion in Scotland, employing over 19,000 people, with a predicted increase of a further £620 million by 2020. There is a growing acceptance that a circular economy is the future for Scotland’s manufacturing industry with social, economic and environmental benefits. Any Scottish manufacturer could apply the circular economy principles to their business.
Where does the Scottish Institute for Remanufacture fit in?
If innovation or the latest technology could help your remanufacturing operations, the Scottish Institute for Remanufacture can match you with the right academic experts and through a matched-funding model enable collaborative projects that apply knowledge, expertise and specialist equipment to operational improvements for Scottish businesses.
We work with a number of high profile manufacturers and will be hosting a workshop with Cummins Diesel Recon Ltd at the SMAS conference on the 8th September (booking details coming soon). Cummins have worked with the Scottish Institute for Remanufacture and academic partners on projects to streamline their existing remanufacturing processes and will be sharing information about their remanufacturing processes and their experience of improving efficiency through innovation and collaboration at our workshop.
Take a look at remanufacturing in action with Cummins here and don’t forget to come to our exhibition stand and say hello!