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To Fix or Not to Fix?

September 10, 2018

If you’ve been in business for a while, your company has probably found itself in this position: a piece of hardware you depend on goes down, and management can’t decide whether it should be replaced or repaired.

Hardware being managed by an experienced vendor has monitoring technicians who can make a data-driven decision based on their knowledge of your device.

For devices not covered by an on-going maintenance agreement, there are factors to consider before deciding whether to fix a broken device or buy a new one.

Perform a cost-analysis.

When trying to determine the total value of a device, you need to know how much you paid for the device at the point of purchase, whether or not the device is still under warranty, what the operational costs are, and if the hardware has any potential salvage value.

You’ll want to weigh the amount of time it may take to repair the device against the time it takes to get a new one delivered and installed.

Know the lifespan of your equipment.

Everyone knows that hardware doesn’t last forever. A device’s technical life is the total time it is expected to last from its initial use. This lifespan forms the first part of a larger picture.

How much you use the device also affects its life. Operational life is how much the equipment gets used (expressed in hours or years of operation).

Finally, the remaining life is the total time the equipment can be expected to continue to be used before needing to be discarded and replaced. Remember that for certain older devices, safety becomes an issue. You don’t want employees using an old device that may injure someone when it malfunctions.

Consulting your manufacturer’s warranty can give you insights into the technical life of your device, while the employees who use the device day in and out can weigh in on operational time. Next, you may find it prudent to consult an expert technician certified in the repair of your specific devices to get the most accurate remaining life assessment.

Otherwise, you can calculate the remaining life by subtracting the operational life from the technical life.

technical life – operational life = remaining life

If the value of the remaining life is greater than the cost of purchasing a new device, a repair might be the best option. Of course, these estimates change if the device is being used in other ways than the manufacturer intended, or if the device had a defect when purchased.

Determine repair cost.

If you already know how much the device will cost to replace, the next step is to compare this to the cost of a fix. For small devices, depot repair services can quote maintenance and parts cost for equipment that is both in and out of warranty.

For large devices that require on-site repair, get a quote from a service provider who has experience fixing your exact device brand and model.

The expected downtime that will occur while the equipment is being repaired should also be considered in the cost–especially if the device has a direct effect on your sales funnel–like a receipt printer or payment transaction device.

Consider the environment.

Increasingly, manufacturers are making hardware more disposable. This is concerning from a global waste perspective. While devices may start to show outward signs of wear over time, not every breakdown warrants complete replacement.

OEM parts are easily sourced for many business devices. If repairs can be quick and affordable and the hardware can be fixed to work as efficiently as before, it can be good for the planet to extend the life of your current device rather than send more material to a landfill.   

Think about future efficiency.

The next time your equipment breaks down, use the opportunity to take stock of the health of all of the devices you depend on to do business.

Determine the total cost and lifespans of all critical devices. You may realize that you have a considerable investment worth protecting with a comprehensive service like Managed Print Services (MPS) or a customizable on-going maintenance agreement.