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Repair vs. Replace: Should You Hold on to Old Barcode Scanners and Printers?

The barcode scanning and printing equipment used in most warehouses was built to last – in many cases, these devices are still operating five or even 10 years after their initial deployment. Over time, these old barcode scanners and printers begin to break down or become obsolete as new features and functions are introduced on newer models.

The question then becomes: should you keep that older equipment and have it repaired, or is time to replace the hardware?

To answer that question, it’s important to evaluate your old barcode printers and scanners within the context of your application. Does the hardware still do everything you need it to? Have your application requirements, customer requirements, or other elements changed over time?

It’s important to have the right technology in place in order to maintain optimal performance in the warehouse.

The Case for Replacement

Replacing your old barcode printers and scanners can generate a number of benefits, depending on your circumstances. While there is an upfront capital expense (in addition to time spent evaluating new device), replacing hardware can:

  • Improve productivity by reducing downtime caused by failing or faulty devices
  • Improve efficiency by providing users with new features/functions
  • Increase profit margins by instituting new applications and services that are enabled by higher-powered or more functional barcode equipment. Newer devices can improve delivery, inventory management, and other real-time systems.

If you do replace your barcode hardware, make sure you purchase devices that are rugged enough to operate in your warehouse environment. Purchasing lower quality equipment to save money will ultimately wind up costing you more in replacement devices, repair costs, lost productivity and expensive downtime.

The Case for Repair

If your old barcode printers and scanners are still operational and useful, or if a full-scale replacement project is not within your budget, then a repair strategy can help extend the life of the equipment.
There are still costs associated with repairs, but a well-managed repair program can help improve application performance. Benefits of repairing hardware include:

  • Cost savings by having repair done in-house by properly trained maintenance and IT staff. If you have a knowledgeable staff, they can quickly remedy any problems with minimal downtime and no extra fees.
  • Repairs can be conducted quickly on-site.
  • If you utilize a third-party repair resource, they can often provide fully configured replacement devices for your employees while the original devices are repaired. This further minimizes downtime and improves productivity.

Most rugged manufacturers do not allow customer-provided service because the repaired device may no longer uphold the high standards and specifications of the original device.   For this reason, only certified repair centers should be used.

However, if repairs become frequent enough to affect efficiency and productivity, you aren’t really saving any money by putting off replacement. Eventually, the cost of downtime, spare parts, and repair will exceed the cost of buying new hardware.

Regardless of whether you have older equipment or are investing in new devices, it’s important to have a good barcode hardware repair plan in place. Value-added resellers and integrators offer a variety of repair and maintenance plans. Quest Solution, for example, provides flexible service contracts that include depot repair, replacement devices, and repair history visibility via its iTrack Software.  This allows options for repair management with the high standards upheld for the needed operations.

The decision to repair or replace your old barcode scanners and barcode printers will depend on the equipment and your application needs. In either case, ensure that you have the right equipment for the job. Even if your current hardware is still working just fine, if the equipment is holding you back or impeding productivity, it might be wise to invest in new devices.

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