As Tier 4 Final machines roll off the production line and onto equipment dealer lots, the cost of replacing aging machines continues to rise. And, while modern emission regulations have created a market for engines that burn cleaner and help reduce pollutants that can harm the environment, the technologies required to achieve these benefits have also added costs and complexity to today’s diesel powered equipment.
Equipment manufacturers are required by law to meet emission standards by introducing Tier 4 Final machines, but many contractors still simply want reliable machines at an affordable cost. Thankfully, the emergence of remanufacturing programs is helping to bridge the gap by giving contractors the option to extend the useful life of aging equipment at a lower investment and with strong returns. Remanufacturing larger air compressors — 375 cfm or larger — is a growing trend across the industry with most major equipment manufacturers offering some form of a remanufacturing program. While each program differs, the general remanufacturing process for most includes a complete restoration of the air compressor from a refurbished sheet metal frame to new wiring harness, filters, fluids and other parts needed to bring the unit back to like new condition.
Each air compressor receives a rebuilt engine of the same tier classification as originally equipped, as well as a factory reconditioned airend. The unit undergoes a thorough inspection by certified service technicians, and usable parts from the original air compressor are thoroughly cleaned and checked again before reassembly. New fluids are added, filters are replaced, and the exterior sheet metal and frame receives a total makeover, including paint removal and recoating. Most manufacturers offer a same-as-new warranty on the package, engine and airend. The warranty provides peace of mind that the customer is getting a like-new unit and reduces the risk that the machine will experience downtime that results in high costs down the road. With the same warranty, performance and aesthetics, the real difference between a new and a remanufactured air compressor is the aprice. A remanufactured unit can typically be purchased at an estimated 20 to 30 percent cost savings compared to purchasing a new Tier 4F model of any manufacturer brand. Considering the sale price of Tier 4 equipment, that could add up to significant cost savings on the purchase price, potentially to the tune of $20,000 – $50,000.
Once the comparable reliability and performance of a remanufactured air compressor have been proven on a jobsite, fleet managers are sending in additional units to be remanufactured. And, other contractors are joining the movement. The result for manufacturers like Doosan Portable Power is a strong increase in demand for remanufactured units in North America compared to 2014 figures. Doosan Portable Power is just one manufacturer experiencing an influx of requests for remanufactured air compressors. Due to increasing market demands, Doosan has doubled its output of remanufactured air compressors annually since the company launched the initiative in 2012.
The increase in total volume has spurred the company to make vast operational adjustments to add capacity in order to meet demand. Availability of remanufactured inventory is another factor driving demand. As manufacturers are challenged with transitioning various product lines to Tier 4F technology, many have existing stock of remanufactured units available for resale. In most instances, customers can also choose to retain ownership of their original air compressor that is then remanufactured and returned to the customer’s fleet. While manufacturers must continue to meet emission standards with Tier 4 Final machines, the remanufacturing program gives contractors the power to choose: Give an aging air compressor a new lease on life at a lower tier level and lower cost; or make an investment in Tier 4F models with advanced features, better fuel economy, less maintenance