Remanufacturing is gaining traction around the world and local companies in the automotive sector are stepping up their capabilities, driven by market demand. Probe’s managing director, Frank Rovelli, says that a variety of reasons – from cost effectiveness to environmental sustainability, make remanufacturing a win-win for companies in the automotive sector and their customers.

Remanufacturing refers to the re-building of old or used products – that are regarded as scrap – to the exact specifications and quality of the original, manufactured product.   In the remanufacturing of automotive parts such as starters, alternators and engine cooling fan hubs, this involves sourcing the old product, known as the ‘core’, stripping it back to its singular parts and then carefully rebuilding those parts into a quasi brand new product. 

Probe is currently one of the only local companies that effectively remanufactures automotive starters and alternators following international standards.  The company’s remanufactured products are referred to as the Probe value-line, and offers the user a good cost effective alternative to a new replacement with the same warranty terms as a new unit.

 “In remanufacturing, the part must be completely disassembled, cleaned and examined for wear and breakage,” says Rovelli. “Worn out, missing or non-functioning components are replaced with new or remanufactured components to OEM specifications. After all work is done, the part is reassembled and thoroughly tested for absolute compliance with OEM performance specifications.”

Rovelli highlights that there is a great cost benefit to remanufacturing.  “At a time when import costs are exceptionally high in South Africa, it makes business sense to use existing, core products that are old or deemed as scrap, to build these up again into a high-quality yet cost-effective product, due to not having attracted import duties.  This is a saving that can be passed onto all tiers of customers, including resellers and the direct public.”  

Probe has gone a step further, offering a “ core return credit” to customers, which effectively reduces the purchase cost of the product in the hands of the consumer. Effectively, the consumer is able to “trade-in” their old starter or alternator.

Remanufactured starters and alternators are not only available for motor vehicles but also available for heavy-duty equipment such as bus and truck fleets, farming equipment and construction equipment. “In these markets, rebuilt parts are often the quickest and most satisfactory solution to getting a vehicle back in operation.”

And do customers have concerns about remanufactured parts rather than new? “A properly “rebuilt” automotive part is the functional equivalent of a new part and is virtually indistinguishable from a new part,” says Rovelli. “In fact, we are required to clearly label parts as “remanufactured” so that they are not mistakenly accepted as new.”

Beyond the commercial benefits, Rovelli says Probe is committed to remanufacturing as part of ensuring a sustainable future and has taken a conscious decision to limit or reduce the impact of manufactured products that add to harmful emissions.  “Remanufacturing is a sustainable practice that limits the negative impact on the environment, by utilizing re-usable materials” says Rovelli. 

Perhaps the biggest plus for local remanufacturers is also that of job creation.   A team of workers with a variety of skills must be in place to actively seek and source products from the market, correctly identify and sort core products, scrupulously dismantle and rebuild the product, and test the product before being packaged and sold.  Rovelli says, “It takes time and investment to build up a well-functioning team.  Having been in the practice of remanufacturing for a number of decades, we have everything in place to ensure a win-win situation for our customer, our staff and Probe as a skilled remanufacturer.”