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Swapping Out Boards, Repairing and the Economics Considerations Involved

John R Retired

Mar 13, 2022
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One issue with repairing electronics is the cheapness issue. Even back 25-30 years ago I worked at a company that made electronic financial related machines. When a component went bad fixing it was considered a waste of time and money. The whole board it was on was swapped out and replaced. The old board was thrown into a large box and when the box was full, sold to the scrap dealer for metal and gold (plating) retrieval and recycling Today in 2022 this kind of economic based. strategy must be even more common. People are even making money as junk dealers gathering piles of electronic junk which are stacking up in scrap yards and creating electronic waste issues.

The point is the "Electronics Repairman" is becoming a dinosaur, as a lower skilled operator, now finds the bad board pops it out pops in a new board and the unit is repaired. SMD makes this more so. Not like the old days when Electronics Techs were more valued. Sometimes even throwing away the entire unit without even swapping out boards and buying an entire new unit (like TVs) is the more economical thing to do.
Except for engineers who design boards and devices, and Techs who repair old (Vintage) technology from the past, electronics repair and tinkering seems to be left to hobbyists who do it for fun.

Just an observation.
 

kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
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Time is money.

When I worked at sea and then as a marine electronics engineer servicing ship equipment it cost the ship owner $30,000 a day to have the ship laid up 'doing nothing' as dud communication or navigation equipment meant it was 'illegal' to sail. As a result the fault was often fixed not just by swapping boards but by wholesale replacement of the equipment! If a ship was in port, discharging for a day or two then we'd dig deeper and fix it down to component level where possible.

Nowadays the biggest hindrance in repair is lack of information - the OEM claiming IPR (intellectual property rights) and sitting on the servicing data (schematics, board layouts etc) and, in more and more cases, using parts that are deliberately created/used to prevent anyone other than the OEM from even sourcing spares let alone repairing them.

If you are in this market you would know about the Right to Repair campaign which seeks to make it a legal requirement for the manufacturers to provide both access to data and spares to make repair work possible. Apple, unsurprisingly, were the main reason the R2R campaign started but the same policy is being played out across all aspects of technology - the European Union are trying to bring in policies that make it illegal to service/repair your own car! They want repairs to be OEM (or their representative - i.e. the stealerships) to be the only ones allowed to do it - for your own safety of course........

With an increase in 'green' attitudes people are questioning the waste and supporting the right to repair which 'may' make manufacturers more accommodating - but I doubt it.
 

John R Retired

Mar 13, 2022
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Good information there on "Time is Money"

I guess my main concern is the value of jobs related to real electronics. especially as software takes precedence.
Robots stuffing boards and wave solder machine advancement is making electronic systems cheaper and cheaper
to replace without much need for Techs and repairman, except maybe to "swap" boards or black boxes.
Of course there are always a few exceptions to the rule, but vintage repair and hobbyists and/or inventors seem to
be the guardians of electronics tinkering, except for design engineers who work in companies. Smartphones and miniature
electronics is making any discreet electronics value almost useless.

Just trying to get a realistic perspective on the electronics industry and business for what it's worth.
 

kellys_eye

Jun 25, 2010
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I'm of the opinion that the markets are now geared to invent 'something' then market it to people in the form of 'here's something you can't live without'. They do this irrespective of any actual need - invention just for the sake of it really.

Of all the stuff we own I very much doubt we need 90% of it to live decent lives. We'd probably be a lot healthier, wealthier and wiser if we ditched a lot of the modern conveniences - they are made (well, a lot of them) to make people lazy and accepting of 'control'.

Should I be mystified at how our generation went from A to B without resorting to a GPS or even managed to talk to other people without the need for mobile phones? I wonder how modern kids would manage if they were deprived of their mobiles or access to Facebook!

But I'm a 60+ year old fuddy duddy - so what do I know????
 

Martaine2005

May 12, 2015
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I wonder how modern kids would manage if they were deprived of their mobiles
True story:
Two or three years ago, I was in the garden with my then 20 year old son, a lovely summers day.
I was using my magnifying glass to read some tiny print when I told him about ants in the sun and a magnifying glass. About how as kids we used to torture the little pests. He laughed and opened his magnifying app on his iPhone and commenced to view the ants through it. He wondered why nothing was happening!.
I left him to it without saying another word. Priceless!.

Martin
 

ivak245

Jun 11, 2021
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I worked in aviation, where every second counted, so it was "swap a box" and "if in doubt, chuck it out". But I started off in the component overhaul area, so learnt how they worked and failed, and everything was repaired, right down to the smallest electronic or mechanical component. I then had my own business repairing appliances, but by about the mid '90's the cheap imported appliances, the closure of local manufacturing and the lack of service parts and information on imported junk killed it. Now retired, I have been the "impossible or not economical to repair " person for many years, but only do it for family and friends, or if I find something interesting in my travels. (I still drive a 1960 car, never used a GPS, and only got a mobile phone because my kids bought me one.)
These days it's technology looking for an application, then the manufacturers convince you that you can't live without it!
 

Martaine2005

May 12, 2015
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These days it's technology looking for an application
My go to app was an A to Z or Greater London map. Outside of Greater London, I’d buy a local map of the area from a petrol station. I’d still be able to get you there quicker than a satnav!.
We have our marmite (black cabs) love m or hate em taxis. Once a gold mine, now a battle with Uber. I say let the battle commence. A black cabbie (taxi) can’t do anything different than an Uber except pick up when flagged down. And, every black cab I’ve been in has a satnav too!. £20 in black cab or £9 in Uber. Times change.

Martin
 
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