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More than just remanufacturing happening at Detroit Reman’s Hibbing operations

HIBBING, Minn. -- The small northeastern Minnesota town of Hibbing has produced some notable stars, including rocker Bob Dylan and the MLB home run king of the pre-steroid era, Roger Maris. It’s also home to Greyhound Bus Lines.

HIBBING, Minn. — The small northeastern Minnesota town of Hibbing has produced some notable stars, including rocker Bob Dylan and the MLB home run king of the pre-steroid era, Roger Maris. It’s also home to Greyhound Bus Lines.

In August, another Hibbing business was making some waves, with the announcement Detroit Reman is moving into a new facility and expanding its operations there. DMR Electronics was initially a small, privately held organization run out of a two-car garage. It was acquired by Daimler in 2007 and has grown significantly since then.

It now does electronics remanufacturing under the Detroit Reman brand, for a wide variety of Daimler and non-Daimler companies. But to call Detroit Reman’s Hibbing, Minn. operations a simple reman plant is to do it a disservice. It’s actually much more than that. During a plant tour in August, this visitor concluded it’s actually an extension of Daimler’s global engineering operations.

A remarkable amount of engineering and development is conducted here. They aren’t simply rebuilding circuit boards and other electronics; workers here actively seek out design improvements and then share them with the parent company, which then benefits from reduced warranty costs and the development of more reliable products.

One example of this is EGR valves, which were initially problematic for all the heavy-duty engine manufacturers. During the remanufacturing process, workers at the Hibbing plant identified the root cause of many of the parts’ problems and then designed a solution. In this case, failure was resulting from intermittent openings of the EGR valve, which were caused by excessive vibration.

The folks in Hibbing developed a new soldering method for improved contact between metals and then encapsulated the inside of the EGR actuator with a potting material to reduce vibration. The fix was thoroughly tested and then shared with the parent company, which implemented the design change into the production of new EGR valves around the world. Today, a Mercedes truck in Germany – and a Freightliner, here at home – is more reliable and achieves better uptime because of a solution worked out by the small Detroit Reman plant in Hibbing, Minnesota.

Another example of how this acquisition is paying off for Daimler involves variable pressure output devices (VPODs). Once again, imperfections uncovered during the remanufacturing process resulted in an improved design that saw warranty costs related to the device decrease 85% since 2010 when the fix was implemented.

Suddenly, the acquisition of little DMR Electronics in out-of-the-way Hibbing, Minn. is looking like a brilliant strategic move on Daimler’s part. And the company has rewarded the operations here, expanding it to more than twice the size of when it was acquired. It now employs more than 100 people and is equipped with the latest tools and technologies. With the move to a brand new state-of-the-art facility near the region’s airport, Detroit Reman will add another 30-50% to its staff size upon completion of a further 30,000 sq.-ft. expansion.

That feel-good announcement was made in August in front of current staff, local media and area dignitaries, as well as the trucking press. The move is expected to be completed by early 2015. It could also see more remanufacturing brought in-house as the company’s Hibbing reman plant expands its capabilities with the strong financial backing of Daimler.

“Detroit Reman is more than a remanufacturer of heavy iron,” said Stefan Kurschner, current president of Detroit Reman. “Through the growth and evolution of the Hibbing plant over the past six years and because of the creativity and passion of its employees, Detroit Reman has become an expert in the manufacture and remanufacture of high-quality electronics products.”

David Rhode, plant operations manager in Hibbing, added, “Today represents the next chapter in Detroit Reman’s long-term commitment to our employees and the region.”

Meanwhile, some personnel changes are afoot within the organization. Having helped orchestrate the impending move into a new facility, Kurschner has since moved on to a new role as president and CEO of Daimler Vehiculos Comerciales Mexico, effective Sept. 1.

Taking his place as head of Detroit Reman is Sanjiv Khurana.

Currently, the Detroit Reman in Hibbing produce new and remanufactured: engine controllers; transmission controllers; vehicle controllers; turbo actuators; EGR actuators; variable pressure output devices; intake throttle controllers; instrument clusters; and audio amplifiers.

It also offers contract manufacturing services for custom wiring harnesses, circuit board assemblies, UL-certifiable control panels, test systems, and relay boxes. The Hibbing facility is one of six Detroit Reman plants located in the US and Mexico.

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