As good as new

Remanufacturing machinery offers financial benefits and sustainability advantages. Leveraging years of experience and a network of remanufacturing facilities globally, Bühler provides custom remanufacturing solutions for its customers in the die-casting business to revitalize well-used machines, potentially extending their service life by up to 20 years.

At first glance, it looks like a gigantic puzzle. Hundreds of parts are neatly aligned, waiting to be cleaned, remanufactured, replaced, or upgraded and eventually reassembled into a die-casting machine. A few meters away, workers are busy with other machines further along in the value chain, using ratchet tools the size of a grown man’s arm, industrial high-pressure washing systems, or nanometer measuring tools to ensure every detail functions perfectly.

Welcome to Bühler’s die-casting remanufacturing site in Bedizzole near Brescia in northern Italy. It’s one of three such facilities the company operates – the others are in Wuxi, China and in Holland, Michigan in the United States, ensuring customer proximity in the biggest die-casting markets.

In this 7,000-square-meter facility in Italy, a dedicated team of around 40 employees remanufactures between 15 and 20 machines per year, depending on the size of the machines. The specialized plant offers a choice of full or partial overhauls, including control upgrades to the latest Bühler DataView control system.

Repurposing the weight of 45 elephants

The locking forces of the machines that are being given a fresh start close to the shores of the picturesque Lake Garda range from 2,600 kilonewton (kN) up to 42,000 kN. Regardless of their size, the impact on sustainability is eye-opening. Compared to building a new die-casting machine, remanufacturing requires around 70 percent less energy and over 71 percent less water.

At the same time, hundreds of tonnes of material are reused instead of being produced. The example of the Evolution 420 die-casting machine impressively demonstrates this. During the overhaul of a machine of this size, 233 tonnes of material are reused – the equivalent of the weight of about 45 elephants. 

remanufacturing remanufacturing This is the machine in the header image before remanufacturing. Every component was cleaned, machined, or replaced. Where possible, newer technology may be introduced to give customers an advantage in cycle times, cell uptime, control, and management.

Overall, a general overhaul saves 67 percent of CO2e compared to the production of a new machine of comparable size. “We offer an entire set of services for our customers’ die-casting machines. When a machine arrives, we disassemble it and document every part. After inspecting each part, we decide together with the customer which parts need to be replaced as part of our transparent remanufacturing process,” says Jan Meier, Head of Operations at Bühler Brescia.

This process can take 3 to 4 weeks and requires a great deal of factory space – a challenge in times when the order books are full. “We’re working on plans to increase our capacity. One idea is to externalize dismantling to nearby factories. This would free up precious space to clean, repair, and reassemble the machines.” 

The equipment can run for another 15 to 20 years after remanufacturing, depending on usage and maintenance – up to 25 years if the customer takes excellent care of the machines. “Thirty percent of the machines we remanufacture are secondhand Bühler machines that are on the market. We scout for them to renew and sell them. The other 70 percent are from customers who approach us directly,” says Francesca Sauda, CFO & Head of Commercial and Human Resources at Bühler Brescia.

The remanufacturing business is as cyclical as the die-casting business, and currently it’s in a very busy cycle. “Our order book is filled well and we’re happy to contribute to our customers’ success. Our customers from the automotive sector, for example, are under pressure to deliver car parts 24/7. We see it as our duty to do everything we can to plan and execute the entire process as smoothly and as efficiently as possible.”

Ready for anything

With Bühler’s constant push for new innovations in die casting, the team in Bedizzole must adapt to new technologies as an entire industry is changing. Take the example of the Carat series. These two-platen machines with locking forces of 10,500 to 92,000 kN are designed for die casting standard structural and other parts as well as large and complex parts, while increasing productivity by up to 30 percent. A Carat machine can be the size of a house, which comes with a host of challenges for the team in Bedizzole.

Disassembled to detail: Each component is meticulously laid out and documented. Disassembled to detail: Each component is meticulously laid out and documented. Disassembled to detail: Each component is meticulously laid out and documented.

Like Hannibal crossing the Alps

Jan Meier’s eyes light up as he talks about the first Carat his team is currently remanufacturing. “The Carat 250 came from Germany and, yes, it’s huge. Organizing the transport over the Alps was an incredible undertaking as it weighs 63 tonnes. Once we had it at our workshops, it seemed to dwarf everything we’ve ever done before. But the team pulled it off like they always do by learning on the go, thinking outside the box, and always prioritizing quality over quantity,” he says.

The Carat series has been highly successful since its launch in 2007 and can now be used to manufacture parts for electric vehicles (EVs) – a change many producers are undergoing. Remanufacturing adds up to 20 years to a Carat’s lifecycle and enables producers to cover the increasing demand for EV parts. The team in Bedizzole is ready to give a new lease on life to the Carat machines.

What makes our customers ship their precious machines to us is their trust in our ability to extend the lifetime of their machines by up to two decades.

Francesca Sauda, CFO and Head of Commercial and Human Resources at Bühler Brescia

“What makes our customers ship their precious machines to us is their trust in our ability to extend the lifetime of their machines by up to two decades. For one, that’s financially attractive as their initial investment is quite high. Secondly, they are under scrutiny to reduce their CO2e footprint, and we can make a tangible difference there,” says Francesca Sauda. “It’s a win-win situation that shows the power of buying high quality in the first place and then remanufacturing it rather than replacing it.”

Over 7,000 kilometers west of Bedizzole, Ben DeJong, Customer Service Manager Die Casting at Bühler North America, looks for a spare part on the shop floor of Bühler’s die-casting remanufacturing site in Holland, Michigan in the US. This is where a substantial portion of large American car manufacturers send their weary machines for the magic touch DeJong and his team provide. “We remanufacture between seven and 10 machines per year. Like our colleagues in Italy and in China, we feel the cyclical increase in the number of machines coming in for overhauling. Our advantage is that we have capacity to manufacture up to 60 die-casting machines here per year,” he says. “This gives us access to know-how about the design of the machines and to more than 7,000 machine parts from the mid-1960s to today. This is vital in times of supply chain disruptions and increasing demand for quicker turnarounds.”

With the transformation towards the production of electric and hybrid vehicles well underway in North America, DeJong and his team are feeling the increasing demand for Bühler’s Carat series. They know exactly what this means down the line.

“About 60 percent of new machines in our market are megacasting machines with locking forces exceeding 56,000 kN. The race between Europe, Asia, and North America for market share in the electromobility industry is gaining speed by the day, so these machines will be running at full capacity 24/7,” DeJong explains. “That’s why we’re already preparing our workshops to handle the remanufacturing of these gigantic machines as efficiently as possible through investments in our infrastructure, expansion of our shop floor, training of employees, and proximity to our customers to plan as efficiently as possible.”

Once each part has been cleaned and inspected, Bühler’s expert engineers conduct a detailed analysis Once each part has been cleaned and inspected, Bühler’s expert engineers conduct a detailed analysis Once each part has been cleaned and inspected, Bühler’s expert engineers conduct a detailed analysis.

The cogwheels keep turning

There is a similar set up in China, where electric vehicles are the rule rather than the exception and a fundamental driver for the entire economy. The remanufacturing center in Wuxi completes Bühler’s global ecosystem. “We remanufacture three to five machines per year and provide additional services at our customers’ sites such as machine relocation or control system upgrades,” says Ping Gu, Customer Service Supervisor Die Casting at Bühler Wuxi. “We’re happy to offer our customers a more cost-effective alternative to buying new machinery that also contributes to sustainability.”

And as hundreds of Bühler die-casting machines around the world reliably produce vital parts for our daily lives around the clock, the finely tuned cogwheels at Bühler’s remanufacturing centers continue to set the clocks of weary machines to zero and transform them into high-performing assets again with decades of service left in them.

Bühler’s service stations

Bühler operates a network of 105 service stations to cover customers’ needs in the Advanced Materials and the Grains & Food businesses. While most services in these locations center around refurbishing parts such as rolls, dies, or sieves in food and feed processing machines, remanufacturing of entire machines is also possible depending on the location. Learn more about our refurbishment services in this article and contact your Bühler representative to find out more about the possibilities of remanufacturing or refurbishing.

Content Block

How can we help?

Gupfenstrasse 5