PLAINFIELD, IN. Responding to increased demand from North American customers forremanufactured components, especially brake shoes, Meritor announced yesterday that it has made $2.7 million worth of improvements to its remanufacturing plant here.

Doug Wolma, Meritor’s general managerof Global Aftermarket Operations, Meritor, pointed out that the improvements include these six new pieces of production equipment: Two “pass-thru”ovens to aid in cleaning efficiencies;two latest-generation “barrel blasters” (which replace 14 pieces of equipment previously used); anaddeddual-cylinder coining press;and new automation to “feed”equipment with less material handling.  All the new production equipment is installed and operational/

The 275,000-sq-ft Plainfield structure itself recently underwent a “significant facility upgrade,” added Wolma. He noted that just three years ago, the company invested $1 million in its brake-shoe coatingsystem, which he called a “critically important step”in production of theMeritor PlatinumShieldreman brake shoe, of which 15 million are in service.

Along with millions of reman brake shoes produced, Meritor reported it has reman’ed thousands of Meritor brand and all-makes axle carriers, transmissions, hydraulic brake calipers, steering gears and drivelines.

And, per Wolma, demand for remanufactured components will only grow inthe future, both domestically and globally. “We see the scope going beyond the mechanical type products remanufactured in large quantities today and expanding into more sophisticated electronic components,” he said. “Our product portfolio will grow, change, shift, and broaden to include electronics, controls and mechatronics.”

In Wolma’s view, more truck owners are now opting for Meritor remanufactured components toreduce costsyet be protected by a nationwide warranty.

“Remanufactured components are a smart price-point alternative for fleets of all sizes and vehicles of all ages given the current market economic conditions,” he said. “The second, third and fourth owners often have different priorities than the original owner, and the focus on the initial acquisition cost is often heightened as the vehicle ages and changes owners. The increased sale ofused trucks has brought a step-up in the number of remanufactured components being purchased to outfit many of those same used or older vehicles.

“Trucking operations of all sizes are realizing the real value of remanufactured parts,” Wolma continued. “Not just in terms of straight cost, which can be 30%less[than new parts], but also in terms of the quality which remanufactured parts bring to their bottom line.”

Wolma also took pains to distinguish what sets a remanufactured component apart from one that falls into the “rebuilt” category. “Remanufactured truck and trailer components are– the product of a disassembly, cleaning, rigorous inspection and qualifying re-used components including necessary replacement,reassembly and testing process--  are ideal for customers whowant performance, service lifeand warranty support without the cost associated with a new component,” he said.

And while demand for reman’ed components is certainly global, Wolma pointed out that due to the expense of transporting the cores, it’s most cost-effective to remanufacture components locally.

“One of the most costly things about remanufacturing is that you have to bring the core back to the factory,” he noted. “Ultimately,this means more remanufactured products are produced locally [in the U.S.]creating more jobs here in the plant and in the transportation sector.”

Another point made by Wolma is that remanufacturing has a strong green cred. He said that more than 30,000 tons of metal are recycled annually in Meritor’s remanufacturing operations worldwide; that the company recycles 90%of all waste from operations; and that more than 40,000 tons of coresare processed at Meritor remanufacturing facilities annually.