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Work on Resource Recycling in Hitachi
The automotive industry is eagerly embracing work on the ‘3Rs’ as a way to promote sustainability and protect the environment. Drawing on the advantages it enjoys as a manufacturer of genuine parts, Hitachi Automotive Systems, Ltd. has developed a rebuilding technology system rooted in the technologies it uses to design and manufacture its own electrical parts (alternators and starters). The system produces rebuilt parts with the same appearance and functionality as new genuine parts. Various models of electrical parts are collected from automobile dealers and repair shops and subjected to a comprehensive set of specialized processes by highly skilled cross-trained workers. These processes cover everything from sorting, to dismantling, inspection, reuse, rebuilding, and testing. This system has been used for the past 25 years as a way to recycle collected electrical parts and sell them as vehicle service parts to automobile dealers and repair shops. It helps enable the high-quality reuse of automotive electrical parts.
The worldwide growth of environmental awareness in the 1990s resulted in work on the ‘3Rs’ (reduce, reuse, recycle) being seen as an increasingly important responsibility for manufacturers. Today, the old view of consumption based on disposable products is being replaced by a greater emphasis on environmental protection as a way to achieve sustainability. Hitachi Automotive Systems Co., Ltd. has responded to this trend by promoting its parts rebuilding business for automotive electrical parts. The company’s parts (alternators*1 and starters*2) are collected from automobile dealers and repair shops, then brought to a plant where rebuilding processes give them back the same appearance and functionality as new genuine parts.
Hitachi Automotive Systems has been repairing electrical parts since before the start of its parts rebuilding business, but previously had customer satisfaction problems such as meeting service parts delivery deadlines and maintaining quality. These problems arose because repair staff visited dealers and repair shops directly and did repairs on-site, and because each repair was handled individually (failed parts were collected from individual customers). To address these issues, the company started using rebuilding to repair electrical parts. It began with alternators and starters. These components are made up of several different types of parts and are easy to dismantle and reassemble, making them ideal for use in rebuilding. Rebuilding consists of bringing together the collected electrical parts at a plant and subjecting them to a comprehensive set of rebuilding processes. Using this approach lets the company offer customers higher-quality rebuilt parts without missing delivery deadlines. Figure 1 shows a completely rebuilt alternator and starter.
Hitachi Automotive Systems started its parts rebuilding business in 1994. In the 25 years since, the company has drawn on its expertise as a genuine parts manufacturer to help enable the high-quality reuse of automotive electrical parts by manufacturing and selling rebuilt parts.
The procedure for repairing electrical parts in the rebuilding system is as follows:
Figure 2 shows the rebuild work flow. Each step in the flow from collection of failed parts to rebuild is described below.
Hitachi Automotive Systems uses its expertise as a manufacturer of genuine automotive electrical parts to manufacture and sell rebuilt parts with the same appearance and performance quality as new genuine parts. The rebuilding and inspection work is done by cross-trained workers with advanced skills, and is tailored to the detailed structures of the company’s own electrical parts, component improvement histories, inspection methods, and quality criteria. About 40% of the failed electrical parts collected are now used in rebuilt parts. In FY2018, 31,476 failed parts (about 160 metric tons) were processed, helping reduce waste by about 60 metric tons.
The company’s parts rebuilding business received official recognition for its longstanding contribution to the high-quality reuse of automotive electrical parts when it won the Award of the Director-General of the Industrial Science and Technology Policy and Environment Bureau at the FY2016 Awards for Resources Recirculation Technologies and Systems given by the Resource Recycling Promotion Center of the Japan Environmental Management Association for Industry.
Hitachi Automotive Systems will continue using its parts rebuilding business to help promote the rebuilding and reuse of automotive electrical parts and the reduction of industrial waste.