Robots aid in remanufacturing

Remanufacturing is a way to preserve the value of products that have already been manufactured. Researchers at Linköping University, LiU, have shown the potential of automation in repair and remanufacturing. 

A person in the industrial production lab Erik Sundin, Professor in Sustainable Production tests the flow rack at the laboratory of industrial production at the Linköping University. Teiksma Buseva

As the supply of raw materials decreases, sustainable production is becoming increasingly important, and several methods to reuse products and material have come into focus. Remanufacturing is an industrial process in which products that have been in use are restored to a quality equivalent to new products. In some cases, it can even exceed the quality of new products. In the project “Automation för Reparation och Återtillverkning” (Automation for Repair and Remanufacture), researchers from LiU, Jönköping University and RISE have investigated the potential of automation in repair and remanufacturing. The project has developed virtual and physical automation solutions for selected steps at the companies.

“These solutions will be implemented and spread, so that more companies gain access to them”, says Erik Sundin, professor in sustainable production at LiU’s Department of Management and Engineering (IEI) and leader of the project.

Challenges with automation

The researchers have collaborated with manufacturing companies to identify challenges with automation and to demonstrate concrete measures. The companies that are participating in the project see a potential in introducing automation solutions that not only increase production efficiency but also improve the work environment by reducing the need to deal with hazardous substances. In addition, difficult or heavy disassembly or cleaning procedures for the products can be avoided.

“The first thing we did was to develop methods to identify the challenges with automation in repair and remanufacturing. Then we visited the four companies and discussed various challenges and what it is possible to solve with automation”, Erik Sundin explains.

As the project progressed, the researchers examined the various steps in the remanufacturing processes used at the companies – inspection, cleaning, disassembly, repair, reassembly and testing. They concluded that the three steps most suitable for automation are cleaning, disassembly and reassembly.

Erik Sundin relates that the project identified many parts that are appropriate for automation. Automation can be used, for example, not only to empty and fill used toner cartridges, but also to clean them. It can also be used to destroy the harddisks of computers that are discarded.

Photo credit Teiksma Buseva

“But what we at Linköping University thought was most interesting and suitable for automation in a robot cell was the sealing of a mechatronic car component that is used to control acceleration. Sealing is important to protect the electronic circuits inside the product. And we borrowed a robot from Yaskawa to implement the automation”, says Erik Sundin.

Automatic sealing of a mechatronic component

The vehicle industry is highly material-focussed, and it depends on a finite supply of raw materials. The remanufacture or repair of a car component can be expensive, time-consuming and complicated, and the result may have limited durability.

Martin Hochwallner, senior lecturer in the Division of Product Realisation at IEI, together with engineering students, took the challenge on and solved the problem. They showed that it is possible to make the sealing of the component more efficient with the aid of automation.

Demonstration videoShow/Hide content

Demonstration of automatic sealing of a car component

Martin Hochwallner shows how automation can aid in the sealing of a component with very high quality.

Brief FactsShow/Hide content

Project partners

  • RISE
  • Jönköping University

Industrial partners

  • Megalans AB – remanufactures various car components 
  • Inrego – remanufactures IT equipment such as mobile phones and laptops 
  • Scandi Gruppen – repairs and remanufactures photocopiers 
  • Scandi-Toner – remanufactures toner cartridges for printers
  • Yaskawa Nordic – supplies industrial robots

LiU researchers in the project

  • Jelena Kurilova-Palisaitiene
  • Martin Hochwallner
  • Varun Gospinath

ContactShow/Hide content

Publications and Student ReportsShow/Hide content

Publications

Sundin E., Backman B., Johansen K., Hochwallner M., Landscheidt S. and Shahbazi S. (2020) Automation Potential in the Remanufacturing of Electric and Electronic Equipment (EEE), Proceedings of the Swedish Production Symposium (SPS-20), October 7-8, Vol 13, Advances in Transdisciplinary Engineering, ISBN 978-1-64368-146-7, Pages 285-296, DOI: 10.3233/ATDE200166, IOS Press, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Student Reports

David Granbom och Måns Olander (2019) Effektivisering av sladdhantering vid återtillverkning – Utveckling av ett hjälpmedel för att avlasta arbetare, minska personalkostnader och öka genomströmningen av sladdar, Kandidatuppsats vid Linköpings Universitet, Design och produktutveckling, LIU-IEI-TEK-G--19/01536—SE. (62 sidor)

Lovisa Linderholm och Jonatan Moen (2019) En användarstudie om hanteringen av datorsladdar i samband med återtillverkning av IT-produkter, Kandidatuppsats vid Linköpings Universitet, Design och produktutveckling, LIU-IEI-TEK-G--19/01543—SE. (66 sidor)

Lovisa Dahlström och Veronica Nedar (2019) Invändig utformning av transportskåp med syfte att reducera sladdhärvor, Kandidatuppsats vid Linköpings Universitet, Design och produktutveckling, LIU-IEI-TEK-G--19/01626—SE.  (80 sidor)

Sevag Yacoub och Gustav Täng (2019) Ett Produktionsutvecklingsprojekt med Stöd av Digitala Verktyg, Kandidatuppsats vid Linköpings Universitet, Design och produktutveckling, LIU-IEI-TEK-G--19/01542—SE. (47 sidor)

Johan Eklund (2020) Automation in Remanufacturing – Robots Flexibility and usage, Master thesis, Linköping University, Department of Management and Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, LIU-IEI-TEK-A--20/03836—SE. (99 sidor)

Alex Jetté, Daniel Larsson och Daniel Similä (2020) Automating Sealant Dispensing - Designing a system and hardware to automate an industrial sealing process in the repair and re-manufacturing industry, Bachelor thesis at Linköping University, ISRN: LIU-IEI-TEK-G–20/01746—SE. (124 sidor)

Victor Ryman, Johan Rosengren and Adam Melin (2020) Automatic Sealant Application - A methodology for real-time control of sealant dispensing and integration of industrial robots for remanufacturing using event-based simulation, Bachelor thesis at Linköping University, LIU-IEI-TEK-G–20/01736—SE. (96 sidor)

Adarsh Nataraj, Andreas Svantesson, Asmatullah Khan and Johan Eklund (2020) Automation of Dispensing liquid seal on an electromechanical product. (73 sidor)

Erik Bergkvist, Casper Persson, Tommy Sabbagh och Ludvig Åstrand (2020) Robot Automation – Dispensing of Liquid Sealant – Automation in Repair and Remanufacturing. (147 sidor)

Ramesh Chandrakanth, Uma Sankar (2020) Enhancing remanufacturing process efficiency by automation at a laptop remanufacturing company, Master’s thesis at Linköping University, LIU-IEI-TEK-A-20/03662-SE. (71 sidor)

Patrik William-Olsson (2020) LCA ARR, Toner Cartridge, Remanufacturing/ Manufacturing, Project Report 27337.

Latest news from LiUShow/Hide content