Repair or replace? How to know what to do when equipment is on the fritz.

Author:Myers, Deborah J.
 
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Equipment failure will eventually put the brakes on your company's productivity and profit. The question isn't "Will it fail?" but "What will we do when equipment fails: repair or replace?" Asking yourself the following questions can help you make a wise decision for your company.

Is The Equipment Outdated?

In many instances, keeping outdated equipment can cost you more than a new model, after the initial output of cash.

"It's best to determine whether new technology would do a better and more adequate job for you," said Jerry Greer, a representative of Arctic Office Products in Anchorage. "If it isn't worn out, maybe the time you'd save would warrant buying a new product."

Older, slower equipment that is analog can decrease your business' efficiency. Consider an older copier compared to modern digital ones. Yesterday's copier must scan the original document 10 times to produce 10 copies; today's copier scans the original once to produce 10.

"It saves on time and power and the paper doesn't have to travel as much so it doesn't jam as often," said Loren Rupe, president of Valley Business Machines in Anchorage.

Digital copiers also don't wear out replaceable parts as quickly because making multiple copies uses fewer internal movements than with older copiers. Laser copiers also give more prints per ink cartridge and print much faster than inkjet printers.

Some equipment, such as postage meters (see sidebar) and scales must be replaced because of changes in the law. When this kind of equipment falters, make sure that no imminent changes in law or industry standards will render your old but repaired equipment useless.

Have Our Needs Changed?

As your industry, or specifically your business, changes, your equipment may need to change, too. Perhaps the small hand jacks can no longer efficiently handle the heavier loads your business generates and it's time to upgrade to forklifts. Or if your facility is going electronic and does not need as many printed sheets cluttering the office, downgrading to simple, individual desk printers may be a better move than investing in a large, shared printer with all the latest gadgets.

Many growing companies find that better equipment can improve their image, whether it's commercial-grade trucks at a job site or a photo-quality color printer in the office. It's equipment that says, "We are professional. We mean business."

Is The Cost Of Repair Excessive?

While it may seem like buying a whole new piece of...

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