Friday, 26 December 2014

Promising future for auto-parts recycling

END-OF-LIFE vehicles (ELV) offer numerous recyclable materials such as steel, aluminium, plastic, antifreeze and batteries, and salvageable parts and components such as engines, transmission, compressors and alternators for reconditioning and reuseable opportunities.
It is estimated that some 27 million vehicles globally reach end of their useful life annually and are recovered for recycling. When cars are scrapped, some 75 per cent (by weight) of the materials are recyclable while the remaining is disposed into landfills.
An estimated five million tonnes of non-recyclable materials, including plastic, rubber, wood, paper, fabric and glass are shredded for disposal into landfills annually. The colossal amount of these wasted non-recyclable materials is now an environmental concern.
Currently, Malaysians own more than 10 million vehicles of which some five million vehicles are more than 10 years old while some are approaching the end of their usable lives.
It only makes sense for some of the owners of the ageing vehicles to choose reusable parts and components in their vehicle maintenance exercises.
Fully recyclable parts and components will not only benefit the owners in prolonging their ELVs, but at the same time they are economical to own in the long run as reusable parts and components that are 50 per cent or less cheaper are readily available.
In general, accidents do not destroy every part in an automobile as at least a dozen parts and components can be salvaged. An organised selling and salvaging of ELV or wrecked vehicles will provide some financial returns to the consumers, while generating lucrative businesses among auto recyclers.
Automotive manufacturers are aware of the demand and government’s foresight that soon their vehicles will have to adopt a full recyclable vehicle design concept. Future vehicles will be designed and manufactured with fully recyclable materials, parts and components that can be reconditioned for reuse repeatedly and eventually recycled. The components will be simple to dismantle and labelled so that they are identifiable for reuse and recyling.
Local automotive manufacturers must from now incorporate recycling and reusable parameters in all their future vehicle designs. This will not only be favourable to the consumers in reducing their vehicle maintenance costs, but open up recycling and remanufacturing businesses in the automotive after-market sector.
Advanced nations are considering regulating their automotive recycling industries with Europe proposing that automotive manufacturers be responsible for their vehicles’ ELV disposals.
Therefore, full recyling will soon be the competitive advantage among global automakers.
Steps have since been taken to inculcate the “Reduce-Reuse-
Recycle” practices within the local automotive ecosystem. Malaysia Automotive Institute has established close rapport with various industry players and related associations to formulate strategies and activities to further boost the local recycling and remanufacturing capabilities.
National Occupational Skills Standard for the remanufacturing industry recently developed one of those initiatives. Involving local recycling industrialists and academia, the re-manufacturing development is a starting point towards boosting the quality of manpower required within the sector.
Automotive stakeholders like the manufacturers, vendors, related authorities and recycling operators should collaborate in initiatives towards developing the local industry.
Public awareness too is crucial to ensure a future sustainable local recycling and remanufacturing industrial ecosystem.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Lightweight EEV essential to competitiveness

A VEHICLE is recognized as an “energy efficient vehicle” (EEV) only if it is able to fulfill the stipulated distance travelled over a given quantity of fuel (energy), as well as satisfy the allowable exhaust emission level of detrimental greenhouse gases.
Towards this end, many car makers have adopted various approaches to achieve the EEV status for their vehicles.
In a decade or so, Asian car makers, particularly the Japanese, would be introducing the hybrid power train EEVs while the European car makers would prefer to enhance internal combustion engines (ICE) powered by diesel fuel from fossil or bio diesel to achieve EEV objectives.
Of late, however, the European car makers have started to introduce hybrid vehicles into the EEV market while advancing the diesel ICE power train.
While the power train advancement remains in the forefront of developmental endeavors among EEV car makers, the vehicle’s weight, too, has been recognized as a major criteria of a successful EEV.
Vehicle weight will become crucial as the global mobility moves towards full electric power train.
Global automotive researchers and engineers are aggressively looking for ways to reduce weight of nearly every part of a vehicle in their efforts to achieve an EEV with higher fuel economy.
This is becoming more crucial as the United States government has now mandated a 23.2 km/liter (54.5 miles/gallon) average fuel consumption for cars and light-duty trucks by 2025.
Since the invention of automobiles, car makers have been incrementally adding weight to their vehicles.
Due to the need to reduce fuel consumption and global demand for lower emission, vehicle dead weight has become a major criterion in automotive design. It is postulated that vehicles dead weight will be significantly reduced to some 10 to 15 percentage of 2010 baseline by 2025.
Dead weight is a measure of the maximum weight a vehicle can
safely carry during mobility, which includes the vehicle’s weight and
the sum of allowable passengers and its cargo.
The current popular practice focuses on weight reduction of selective components to reduce the total vehicle weight.
Although this is an acceptable approach, such practices are deem to take a longer time frame to achieve the best possible dead weight of a vehicle being produced.
Dead weight designation during the early stage of development will govern the designers to select the most suitable systems and materials to achieve the targeted weight.
It will serve as a driving force in ensuring that component vendors at all levels continuously seek new materials for weight reduction.
However, balancing the cost differential between the new and current materials and processes is a factor to be considered to avoid the possible setback upon adoption of the dead weight designation approach.
An increase in manufacturing and materials cost is not always a good excuse for the price increase of a vehicle.
Therefore, car makers need to recognize weight reduction strategies in one way or another, either selective components weight reduction or dead weight designation during the early stage of vehicle development.
Failing to explore possibilities of materials and processes for reducing weight of vehicles being developed will render the car makers less competitive in the world of the EEV market.