The event, organised by Strathclyde University, will focus on remanufacturing research and practice. It will run from 27 to 29 July. The Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse estimates the industry is already worth £5bn a year to the UK economy. But conference organisers hope to encourage wider interest in what some believe is an "unsung" industry. Delegates from as far afield as Japan, USA, Australia, Sweden, South Korea and Uruguay will take part in workshops on remanufacturing and the environment and future technology. Remanufacturing has been defined by the British Standards Institution (BSI) as "returning a used product to at least its original performance with a warranty that is equivalent to or better than that of the newly manufactured product". Bottom line Proponents argue remanufacturing could not only improve the bottom line for industry, but enable businesses to better meet increasingly stringent environmental legislation. Conference organiser Dr Winifred Ijomah, who drew up the BSI definition of remanufacturing, said: "Over the last 50 years, the expanding population means that we can't cope with the amount of waste being produced - raw material and landfill space are increasingly scarce and hence more expensive. Dr Ijomah is based at Strathclyde University's department of design, manufacture and engineering management, which boasts the largest group of remanufacturers of any institution in the UK. The department has 13 active researchers and more than 30 industrial partners, including large companies like Rolls-Royce, Caterpillar and Ford. Caterpillar is one of the UK's largest remanufacturing companies, with its subsidiaries Cat Reman and Progress Rail together handling more than £2.7bn worth of end-of-life products a year. Much of Caterpillar's work involves remanufacturing engines for large plant and rolling stock. Customers include the MoD, to whom it has supplied - among other things - remanufactured transmissions and engines for the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle. But many companies - big and small, at home and abroad - remain largely unaware of remanufacturing and its benefits. To that end, Strathclyde University is looking to widen ties with countries around the world interested in the process. Developing standards Ben Walsh, from the Centre for Remanufacturing and Reuse, which is funded by the Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), said the problem could be tackled in several ways. He said: "One way is to develop standards that show remanufactured products are as good as new ones, and we are in the middle of developing a certification process to that end. "The other way is for companies to adapt their business models so they can lease or rent out products without the consumer even needing to know that they are remanufactured." Proponents of remanufacturing hope to propel the concept of remanufacturing into the public consciousness.

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