By Mark Peters, Production Manager
DPAM’s remanufacturing operation in Murrieta, Calif., is basically a large recycling operation. The products we remanufacture are alternators, starters and fuel injectors. Used products from the marketplace, known as “cores,” come into the plant. They are sorted, torn down, reassembled with both used and new components, tested, packaged and then shipped to our customers. By reducing energy consumption and conserving natural resources, this recycling activity has a tremendous positive impact on the environment and our bottom line. If we didn’t recycle parts, Murrieta would have no remanufacturing operation and DPAM would lose significant income!
The front end of remanufacturing involves the core sorting and teardown processes. Performing this work presents unique challenges due to the soiled condition of the used cores. Because our operational practices are both environmentally friendly and cost-effective for consumers, we are proud of the tremendous value our business brings to DPAM. Grease, dirt, rust, oil and various solid wastes are all byproducts of the remanufacturing process, and we are fully committed to preserving our environment and increasing the sustainability of our operations. There are three heavily used recycling channels in the plant that provide opportunities for us to be environmentally responsible:
Water is the primary cleaning material used during core teardown, and it must be handled properly to prevent release into the drainage system. Last year, approximately 77,000 gallons of city water were used to clean starter, alternator and fuel injector cores at the beginning of the teardown process. These cores contain contaminants like grease and rust that would harm the environment if they were to enter the drainage system. During the remanufacturing process, the wastewater from our cleaning operations is collected. This contaminated water is returned to the Water Recycling Evaporation System affectionately known as “Mr. Coffee” where, through filtration, approximately 40 percent of the used water can be recovered at a level just below drinkable state. This water is then returned to the cleaning equipment for reuse in the cleansing process. The Murrieta plant saved 30,000 gallons last year at a time of significant statewide drought and water restrictions as a result of our water recycling system.
Metal scrap and packaging waste make up the most heavily used recycling channel and also provide an important source of income to the business. As a remanufacturing operation, our goal is to reuse every part possible to maximize profitability. Our performance is tracked at the plant level as a percentage of new parts used (NPU). Through lower NPU rates, we effectively reduce our material costs, thereby increasing our profit and reducing our impact on the environment. Since 100 percent of torn-down parts cannot be salvaged, the plant continuously generates scrap. During core teardown, scrap aluminum, copper, steel and plastic are separated. During the core receiving and inspection process, unusable cores are sorted and set aside for scrap and packaging waste, typically cardboard boxes, is compacted for recycling. Other recycling efforts include:
In fiscal year 2015, we processed 527 tons of scrap through this channel, generating $269,000 in income.
Solid hazardous waste is the smallest component of the three waste streams, yet proper handling of this material yields enormous environmental benefits. Spent media from our soda and shot blasting processes contain harmful contaminants that must be controlled. The solid portion of what is skimmed off during the cleaning processes is called “filter cake” and is captured and contained as solid hazardous waste. Murrieta generated 23 tons of solid waste material last year. By recycling hazardous waste, none of this material was sent to a landfill to contaminate the environment.
Remanufacturing and recycling go hand in hand. Each relies on and sustains the other. More recycling means more remanufacturing, and more remanufacturing means higher profits and more jobs! The lower our NPU rate, the higher our efficiency. We’re proud to follow these sustainable business practices that are a win-win for DENSO, our customers and our planet.