Industrial Electronics Repair – “Quick & Dirty” or Professional?
The requirements for industrial electronic devices are high. This is understandable if we compare the total costs incurred by an emergency shutdown with the cost of the electronic components themselves. In order to avoid such an occurrence, it’s expected that the automation system will maintain its functionality, availability and safety features during decades of continuous plant operation.
Unlike mechanical parts, which can be switched off during stand-still periods or plant outages, electronic devices are always in operation. Their life cycle is additionally impacted by environmental conditions like ambient temperature, humidity, contaminants, mechanical vibration, electrostatic discharges, etc. For these reasons, even highly reliable electronic boards are not free from possible malfunction.
Today’s practices to minimize the risk of an unwanted shut down due to electronic failure include design measures like: robust electronic board design with adequate electrostatic protection; air conditioning to reduce ambient temperature, humidity and contamination of the electronic parts; careful attention to engineering with specific redundancy features and fail-safe designs to increase the availability and safety of the automation system; and elaboration of the right spare parts strategy to minimize eventual outage times.
To maintain the original safety level, availability and reliability requirements, the choice of the right professional repair and maintenance partner is necessary. One might think that repair work is a minor task and can be done “quick and dirty”. However, experience has proven that electronic device repair has to be carefully and professionally conducted. Putting money into repairs with uncertain results by uncertified companies is a bad investment due to the increased risk and consequences of a possible plant shut-down and/or its unavailability. But what are the requirements that customers have to be aware of when asking a supplier to repair its devices?
Required Repair Skills
The first activity should be to replace the defective electronic component. The complexity of the repair work is impacted, however, by the dynamic behavior of the electronic component market where components are regularly discontinued, thus requiring suitable technical replacement solutions and strategies like:
- Know-how and field experience of the device
- Availability of the original electronic components during the product’s (devices) life cycle
- Replacement solutions via equivalent electronic components that will not negatively impact the board’s functionality
- In-depth testing of repaired parts before delivery in order to guarantee the original functionality and quality
- Understanding of a component’s life cycle and the electronic devices that will require preventive replacement
- Recommendations for whether the best strategy is repair or replacement with an equivalent solution
The basic requirements for being able to satisfy all the aspects above are the availability of a documented product history, manufacturing knowledge that begins with the initial industrialization phase, as well as years of experience with field returns and feedback from the repair center: all items which can only be provided by the original manufacturer.
Due to the impact of failures and the possibility of the huge financial consequences they can have for the end customer and/or OEM, it is highly profitable to use the services of your original manufacturer to perform the repair work on your industrial electronic equipment. Only with this approach can you maintain the same level of confidence that you had when you originally purchased your equipment from the OEM and improve your market position.
Are You interested?
Would you like to hear about our Electronics Maintenance and Repair? Contact our Engineering Experts (For OEMs only):
Electronic Components = small parts bought from component manufacturers/distributors
Electronic devices = boards, box builds produced by e.g. an EMS company
Parts = mechanical, e.g. a wheel
Original manufacturer = OEM or EMS
End customer = end user of the industrial system