HUNTINGTON, IN. Responding rapidly to the positive growth that’s been steadily lifting up the trucking industry, this year Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems has been “reinvigorating” its remanufacturing of heavy-duty truck components for aftermarket sale, key executives explained to FleetOwner here at the company’s expansive manufacturing facilities.
While this latest energizing of the component reman’ing that Bendix has been engaged in for nearly 40 years is an ongoing initiative, “significant changes in our remanufacturing processes have been completed in the last year,” Mike Pogorelc, Huntington plant manager told FleetOwner.
“Bendix’s remanufacturing of components alone this year brought in $95 million in revenue,” Henry Foxx, Bendix’s director— remanufacturing, told FleetOwner, attesting to the strength of this element of the aftermarket.
The company remanufactures heavy-duty components—compressors, air dryers, valves, brake shoes and electronics— via a dedicated business unit formed in 2011 focused on remanufacturing that runs reman “centers of excellence" in Huntington, IN, and Acuña, Mexico.
Reman activities at the company’s Huntington operations run from a core-processing unit at one location to a 74,000-sq-ft facility that houses the Bendix Brake Shoe Remanufacturing Center, according to Foxx.
“We remanufacture all our OE products,” Foxx stated, adding that “our goal is to remanufacture everything that Bendix manufactures so we can fully support our customers in the aftermarket.”
As for what makes purchasing components meeting OE specs that are remanufactured vs. those that are newly manufactured so attractive to cost-conscious fleets, he said the current price advantage of the former is “generally in the range of up to 30%, depending on the specific Bendix component.”
Since opening the dedicated brake-shoe center in the fall of 2012, shoe reman’ing has increased by 20%, Foxx told FleetOwner. In that time, the facility has remanufactured more than two-million brake shoes, he advised. He added that the operation can pump out up to 2.6-million reman’ed brake shoes a year.
Getting back to that talk of reinvigoration, Foxx explained that this summer Bendix put in place at the shoe center various production improvements and other upgrades— together equaling a total added investment of $3.2 million in a plant that’s less than two years old.
However, the changes greatly expanded the facility’s capabilities. Foxx said the significant upshot is the center can now handle the complete salvage, “coining” and assembly processes that comprise what Bendix regards as the “start-to-finish remanufacturing” of brake shoes.
Foxx advised that the recent investments in the Huntington center included adding 16 pieces of “state-of-the-art equipment” as well as material-handling equipment “ergonomically engineered to ensure an optimized lean-manufacturing environment.”
A tour of the shoe reman center revealed numerous devices and solutions devised that help safely speed up processes while taxing workers less. This is achieved in large part by implementing ways to reduce how much weight an employee must lift and how far he or she must carry it out while completing a given process.
Yet arguably chief among all the equipment investments was the installation of a towering1,000-ton coining press that swiftly returns the used brake shoes placed in it to the exact shapes engineered by their original manufacturers.
This coining is key to the reman process because it “returns the brake shoe to its OE geometry and that ensures even wear,” Gary Ganaway, Bendix’s director--- marketing & global customer solutions, told FleetOwner.
While the massive press is new to Huntington, Ganaway pointed out that the company has “always coined 100% percent” of its remanufactured brake shoes. He said that alone marks a key distinction between reman’ed and rebuilt products.
Whether its brake shoes or air dryers or what not, Foxx stressed that remanufacturing is clearly distinctive from rebuilding because the more involved process “brings a product to current performance specs by replacing or repairing components with OEM-quality parts.”
Another major improvement made to the shoe center this year was building a self-contained area for the initial salvage process as well as for de-lining and blasting “core” shoes. “This prevents dust and particles released in those processes from contaminating the painting and riveting process,” Chris Camp, operations manager, remanufacturing at Huntington told FleetOwner.
Camp advised out that center also gained automated “de-liners” that reduce the chance of accidental shoe damage during friction removal as well as two 24-cu-ft “blasters” that clean the shoes “to ensure the best adhesive surface” for Bendix’s ProteX brake-shoe coating. “A new 2,000-sq-ft paint line was also put in place.” He noted that it boasts a curing oven with strict temperature, time and humidity controls “to ensure the full performance of the ProteX coating.”
“The combination of finishing our remanufactured brake shoes with Bendix’s ProteX coating and installing our high-strength friction materials is designed to virtually eliminate the rust-jacking issue for fleets,” Ganaway remarked to FleetOwner.
Foxx noted that the company takes pride in the positive impact of the shoe reman center’s environmental-sustainability program. It includes “aggressive” wastewater treatment that he said makes sure that wastewater is within environmental limits before discharge.
“We also have the industry’s only brake-lining disposal program that diverts used brake linings from landfills,” Foxx pointed out. He added that these efforts contributed to Bendix’s overall Zero Waste mentality program, “which helped drive the 96% landfill-diversion rate achieved in 2013.”