CTDI’s Mark Shasteen on how remanufacturing is playing a key role in automotive sustainability

Shasteen_Mark_CTDILMC Automotive’s 2013 forecast for total US light-duty vehicle sales is at 15.2 million units. The analyst firm’s estimate for global sales this year is 83.5 million light vehicles, up 2.8% from 81.2 million in 2012.  (Editor’s note: there’s somewhere around 200,000 new Class 4-7 commercial vehicles also sold annually in the US.) While eventually the massive Millennial generation (about 18 to 33 years old) is expected to buy less new cars, there are a lot of metals moving through vehicle production plants, along with plastic, fabric, glass, and other materials. Many people are concerned that the US and other markets with high-volume auto sales will be crossing a point of no return. What will happen to all the old light-duty passenger vehicles stored in landfills, junkyards, and your neighbor’s driveway?

There is a management discipline in automotive manufacturing and aftermarket designed upon “remanufacturing” vehicle parts and components – to reduce costs, reuse parts and components, and to assist OEMs and Tier One suppliers meet their sustainability targets. Some of this practice comes from the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Comprehensive Procurement Guideline and its 2004 update adding Rebuilt Vehicular Parts. A few years ago, the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) launched an affiliate, the Motor & Equipment Remanufacturers Association (MERA). The EPA guidelines played a part in defining what goes into remanufactured vehicle parts and components – which can include repair, refurbishing, and recycling.

Mark Shasteen served as an inaugural board member on MERA; he brings his 30 years of experience in the auto industry, including Delphi Corp., the Packard Electric Division of GM, and just recently, he became vice president of CTDI’s automotive business segment. CTDI, based in West Chester, Penn., is focused on vehicle electronics remanufacturing and logistics, and recently launched Reman 8.0, a one-stop solution for vehicle manufacturers and suppliers. Customers leverage CTDI’s 38 years of technical expertise in microelectronics and mechatronics, test engineering, and industry leading remanufacturing capabilities that comes from industries beyond automotive.

For anyone who’s bought a new car in recent years, it’s nearly astonishing to read the owner’s manual and find out about all of the electronics systems built into the dashboard and under the hood. CTDI works with automakers, dealer networks, service departments, and retail service chains to streamline the repair process and contain costs. A Tier One supplier might have a 15 year service agreement with an OEM for a car that stopped being manufactured 10 years ago. CTDI and other remanufacturing companies play a crucial role in keeping these vehicle operational; that’s getting trickier in the US market where the average age of vehicles on the streets is now 11 years old.

There are 20-to-30 electronics control modules built into new vehicles and the complexity is getting deeper with each new model year, Shasteen said. Connectivity with devices, telematics and navigation, lighting, cruise control, temperature control, radio systems, and a long list of autonomous features that will soon become integrated into driverless cars – the list gets very long.

Reman 8.0 is offering turnkey solutions including engineering, testing, logistics, and IT systems. When working with its clients, CTDI is able to salvage and remanufacture more than 90% of the vehicle’s electronics parts and components, Shasteen said. Commercial vehicle manufacturers and suppliers are also showing interest in remanufacturing, and may become CTDI clients, too. “It’s cost effective, green, and viable,” he said.