At the end of 2020, the Renault plant in Flins (France) embarked on a new path, to focus entirely on the circular economy. This is how the Refactory was born. It is well known for refurbishing used vehicles and for its role in Renault Group’s approach – i.e. generating value throughout the life cycle of its brands’ models. But the vehicles are not the only ones that are enjoying the benefits of transformation. The Refactory in Flins now houses a new workshop that retrofits robots. How can the Group's industrial resources be made 20 years younger? We asked the experts.
Dozens of robots are waiting in line for their metamorphosis at the Refactory in Flins. A bit like Benjamin Button, the character in the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald who ages backwards. How? In this case, at the Retrofit unit, which is tasked with refurbishing them before they return to production lines. This unit has revamped 40 robots so far this year to contribute to starting up substantial projects such as the All-new Megane E-TECH Electric in Douai. Let’s find out more about this new “rejuvenating” operation, starting at the workshop where it all began!
Sandouville, Maubeuge and Douai... sharing robots
It looks like a senior-citizen get-together of sorts. The robots that retired from the plants in Sandouville, Maubeuge and Douai are gathered in the workshop that Nathalie, Deputy General Manager Tooling in Flins, runs. In the past, each plant retrofitted its own machines. Now, the Refactory revamps them all, to enjoy the benefit of specialist teams pooling their expertise in a dedicated workshop. By 2023, the team will double in size and have eight technicians and a scheduler.
Once the robots are cleaned through and through, the roboticists examine them to determine what they need to do to “revitalise” them. It can be replacing the electronic card, harness, motor or wrist (part of the arm). And the Refactory can handle them all. In total, it takes about 40 hours to retrofit a robot these days.