Author Topic: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)  (Read 2704 times)

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Offline Alti

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Re: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)
« Reply #50 on: April 17, 2021, 11:03:32 am »
Lets imagine two designs of some appliance (washing machine).

Design A folows imaginary perfect planned end of life, "potted cellphone" design that has a "ticking clock" and dies exactly after K days and cannot be repaired.

Design B follows "infinite reusability", an imaginary concept where you could replace any component/module you wanted, at time-defined intervals Ki (i=1:N),  for the 1/Nth price of a new B appliance (where N is count of components in an appliance). The assumption here is that no serious skills are needed to service it, an indicator shows "K7 time is up, replace component 7" and it is just a matter of popping the lid and putting in a replacement and closing the lid back.

I'd say that in B if N=1 and K1=K then this is equal to A design with "K time is up, replace appliance" message every K days. These designs conceptually differ only in N value.

With modular design B this is a matter of replacing component by component but since none of the components is ethernal, after some time t=T you end up with a completely new appliance.
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)
« Reply #51 on: April 17, 2021, 11:40:09 am »
Lets imagine two designs of some appliance (washing machine).

Design A folows imaginary perfect planned end of life, "potted cellphone" design that has a "ticking clock" and dies exactly after K days and cannot be repaired.

Design B follows "infinite reusability", an imaginary concept where you could replace any component/module you wanted, at time-defined intervals Ki (i=1:N),  for the 1/Nth price of a new B appliance (where N is count of components in an appliance). The assumption here is that no serious skills are needed to service it, an indicator shows "K7 time is up, replace component 7" and it is just a matter of popping the lid and putting in a replacement and closing the lid back.

I'd say that in B if N=1 and K1=K then this is equal to A design with "K time is up, replace appliance" message every K days. These designs conceptually differ only in N value.

With modular design B this is a matter of replacing component by component but since none of the components is ethernal, after some time t=T you end up with a completely new appliance.

I love this analysis! :D

It is right away clear that design A can make sense over design B if all the modules have approximately the same expected life.

What happens to the model if we assume different lifetimes of the N sub-components, and also assume different costs to replace them?

 

Offline AndyC_772

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Re: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)
« Reply #52 on: April 17, 2021, 11:43:09 am »
In the t = T case, every component in said appliance has provided useful service for as long as it's physically able to do so; an ideal situation that uses the minimum possible resources to provide the greatest useful benefit. If T has all the N's as factors, so they all wear out at that exact time, then it's indeed time for a new appliance.

At the other extreme (your N=1 case), the entire appliance is scrapped when the part (however small) with the shortest lifespan fails, including 99% of perfectly serviceable components. Even if heroic efforts are made to recycle the machine, does it really make sense to melt down old (but working) parts to make near-identical new parts for a new machine?

The energy rating labels on domestic appliances have been a great success - so much so that every model on the market is now "A+++++++" and the whole scheme is having to be recalibrated to reflect the advances that have been made in efficiency. The simple act of making consumers aware of something they wouldn't have otherwise considered - or even been able to meaningfully compare - has resulted in improvements across the industry from which we all benefit.

Repairability information at the point of sale would be equally worthwhile and a very positive step, IMHO.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2021, 11:44:59 am by AndyC_772 »
 
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Offline Fraser

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Re: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)
« Reply #53 on: April 17, 2021, 11:52:08 am »
Some Fun involving piecemeal replacement of component parts.......namely Triggers broom  ;D

https://rhodestothepast.com/2018/07/05/daft-as-a-brush-the-ancient-philosophy-of-triggers-broom/

To me a product remains ‘original’, from a functional point of view, if it has the exact same design and characteristics as when it left the factory. Deviation from that original design and functionality, for better or worse, makes it a modified product  :) For a archaeologist or conservator it is a very different story though.

I have a favourite laptop (Dell Inspiron 3500) that was used until its case plastics began to fatigue crack due to flexing in the chassis. I repaired the case cracks with plastic welding  and all was well. Some years later I saw a company selling original case plastics for my model of Dell laptop. I bought a complete set of case plastics, installed the laptops chassis into them and the laptop looked brand new  :-+ Was it the original laptop ? To my mind yes. It’s internal ‘organs’ were original and I had just provided a new set of ‘clothes’. That said, some years previous I had fitted a faster Processor module so it’s ‘brains’ were changed long before the casing. In terms of the right to repair, I was so pleased to be able to buy a new complete casing kit for my laptop at reasonable cost. It was clear that the casing parts were a clear-out by Dell to a parts reseller as the laptop was long obsolete. Did it make sense for Dell to stock complete laptop casings ? They obviously thought so whilst the laptop was current but it became dead money once the laptop went obsolete. Not many people would pay what Dell would charge for a complete casing. I suspect those parts were purely stocked for warranty claim purposes. Back in the latex 1990’s laptops were so expensive to make and buy that the maths may have justified the storage of ‘consumable’ or failure prone parts. I am not sure the story is the same today though. When my iPad battery died, I paid £80 to the nice chap in the Apple store and he gave me a brand new, not ‘refurbished’ iPad. He commented that even though my original iPad was in mint condition, it did not make financial sense to dismantle and refurbish it for reuse. That sort of suggests that an iPad actually costs Apple less than £80 to manufacture....  just my guess though. In the face of low production costs it is only really viable to refurbish or repair equipment that is special in some way, either in intrinsic production cost, data recovery or system compatibility. There are many elderly industrial Electronic systems in use throughout the World.... why ? Well they cost too much to replace, upgrade or to redesign the system they operate within to use modern replacement technology. Win XP is still alive and well in embedded computers within Industrial systems  :D That is where the right to repair can be essential to support the users of such equipment. I was trained to repair almost anything electronic with, or without a schematic diagram. These days a schematic diagram can be essential for efficiency and success. Then there is is the bespoke software and firmware to be considered ! Repairing modern electronics can be a total nightmare if the fault is not something relatively simple to track down.

Fraser
« Last Edit: April 17, 2021, 12:47:49 pm by Fraser »
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Offline Fraser

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Re: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)
« Reply #54 on: April 17, 2021, 11:55:58 am »
Triggers Broom ........

https://youtu.be/LAh8HryVaeY

 :-DD
Cogito, ergo sum
 
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Offline Fraser

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Re: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)
« Reply #55 on: April 17, 2021, 01:39:01 pm »
I thought some examples of ‘right to repair’ in action may be worth detailing here. Some relatively recent ones from my workshop......


1. I bought a ARGUS 2 thermal camera that is long obsolete and I needed some information to assist in my repair of it. I contacted E2V ARGUS customer support and instead of the usual ‘sorry cannot help’ they replied that they had forwarded my request to the Chief engineer who might be able to help me. That was the start of a friendship with that very friendly and helpful Chief engineer ! It was a ‘can do’ attitude by the E2V customer support team and Chief engineer that both surprised and pleased me  :-+

2. I bought some neat little pieces of test equipment from Digimess Instruments. They were originally Grundig units but Digimess bought the rights. Digimess advertise supply of user manuals and service manuals for their equipment  :-+ The service manuals are not exactly inexpensive at £49 but at least they are available. I wanted just the schematic diagrams and PC control software for my units. I wrote to Digimess and received a response from the owner of the company ! He said he would be happy to supply the schematic diagrams and software for £5 each. I jumped at the opportunity and bought the schematics and software for all of my Digimess equipment. This is a great example of what we techs hope ‘right to repair’ would achieve in a perfect world. The owner of Digimess has no great interest in repairing obsolete equipment and clearly would prefer the owner to be able to repair it rather than it end up in land fill. That is a laudable attitude and the equipment in my case is current !

3. I bought a Peak LCR meter that was known to be faulty. I contacted Peak Electronics to ask whether a schematic was available as it would save time reverse engineering the PCB. The owner of Peak Electronics replied by saying the schematic was not public domain but he would help me diagnose the fault ! He sent me the ‘repair sheet’ that his team use to diagnose and repair the common faults. That guide lead me straight to the failed component  :-+ The owner of Peak Electronics need not have helped me and he does offer a factory repair service at reasonable cost. He understands that techs like to repair their own kit where possible though and so supports them in their efforts. I would happily buy that companies products as a result.

4. I bought a used CAT FireWire/IEEE1394a protocol analyzer for a specific task. The unit arrived and was like new. I downloaded the circa 2004 PC software from the current owner of the equipments rights... Teledyne Lecroy. The fact that they make that old CAT software available to us is a credit to them on its own. The software is free but you need the correct firmware loaded into the analyzer. That firmware is provided in the downloaded software file set. The only problem is that in order to load the firmware the unit has to be licensed for updates and that was part of a support contract. My unit had the wrong version of firmware installed and refused to load the new firmware as my update licence had expired :( Long story cut short, Teledyne Lecroy Customer Support put me in touch with one of the units original design team who still worked for them. In no time at all he provided a diagnosis of the issue and a solution in the form of a new update licence download ! I was then able to load the firmware and the software was happy to run the unit. The chap at Teledyne Lecroy actually phoned me and walked me through the diagnostic and update process. Amazing support that converted a useless ‘brick’ into a very capable FireWire data analyzer  :-+ I thanked him and asked why he had helped me so much when the equipment was long obsolete....... he said that it was all about good customer support and he hoped that if I ever needed another data analyzer, I would consider the offerings from Teledyne Lecroy. So he was effectively investing in the companies future potential sales by helping a user of a long obsolete product. He also imparted some very useful knowledge about the units correct use to me and how best to deploy it in my scenario. Remember, this unit went obsolete in the mid 2000’s and he was working from memory. He also dug out the old licence generator to create the new update licence. Many companies would not have gone to these lengths to help me. The unit completed the required analysis for me and I solved the problem that I was having. I will now rehome it as a fully licenced and working unit so that it can assist someone else in their work :-+ Just because something is old and obsolete, does not mean that it does not still have use and is able to contribute to someone’s work/life. Better used than in landfill or shredded for its metal value.

Just a few examples of where a companies positive ‘can do’ attitude can make all the difference and provide them with a very good reputation amongst techs and end users.

Fraser
« Last Edit: April 17, 2021, 01:49:50 pm by Fraser »
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Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)
« Reply #56 on: April 17, 2021, 01:48:15 pm »
Some Fun involving piecemeal replacement of component parts.......namely Triggers broom  ;D

https://rhodestothepast.com/2018/07/05/daft-as-a-brush-the-ancient-philosophy-of-triggers-broom/

To me a product remains ‘original’, from a functional point of view, if it has the exact same design and characteristics as when it left the factory. Deviation from that original design and functionality, for better or worse, makes it a modified product  :) For a archaeologist or conservator it is a very different story though.

I have a favourite laptop (Dell Inspiron 3500) that was used until its case plastics began to fatigue crack due to flexing in the chassis. I repaired the case cracks with plastic welding  and all was well. Some years later I saw a company selling original case plastics for my model of Dell laptop. I bought a complete set of case plastics, installed the laptops chassis into them and the laptop looked brand new  :-+ Was it the original laptop ? To my mind yes. It’s internal ‘organs’ were original and I had just provided a new set of ‘clothes’. That said, some years previous I had fitted a faster Processor module so it’s ‘brains’ were changed long before the casing. In terms of the right to repair, I was so pleased to be able to buy a new complete casing kit for my laptop at reasonable cost. It was clear that the casing parts were a clear-out by Dell to a parts reseller as the laptop was long obsolete. Did it make sense for Dell to stock complete laptop casings ? They obviously thought so whilst the laptop was current but it became dead money once the laptop went obsolete. Not many people would pay what Dell would charge for a complete casing. I suspect those parts were purely stocked for warranty claim purposes. Back in the latex 1990’s laptops were so expensive to make and buy that the maths may have justified the storage of ‘consumable’ or failure prone parts. I am not sure the story is the same today though. When my iPad battery died, I paid £80 to the nice chap in the Apple store and he gave me a brand new, not ‘refurbished’ iPad. He commented that even though my original iPad was in mint condition, it did not make financial sense to dismantle and refurbish it for reuse. That sort of suggests that an iPad actually costs Apple less than £80 to manufacture....  just my guess though. In the face of low production costs it is only really viable to refurbish or repair equipment that is special in some way, either in intrinsic production cost, data recovery or system compatibility. There are many elderly industrial Electronic systems in use throughout the World.... why ? Well they cost too much to replace, upgrade or to redesign the system they operate within to use modern replacement technology. Win XP is still alive and well in embedded computers within Industrial systems  :D That is where the right to repair can be essential to support the users of such equipment. I was trained to repair almost anything electronic with, or without a schematic diagram. These days a schematic diagram can be essential for efficiency and success. Then there is is the bespoke software and firmware to be considered ! Repairing modern electronics can be a total nightmare if the fault is not something relatively simple to track down.

Fraser

I guess the issue is if a product is made of a mix of components, some with a short life and some with longer lives.  We sometimes call the short life parts "wear parts" and the product is typically designed to make them easily replaceable.

The iPad example (I have seen the same thing, my wife got a new one instead of a replaced battery) is good:  clearly, Apple considers that there are no parts in an iPad that are worth enough money to bother trying to salvage by replacing the battery - the whole item is disposable.    It probably costs Apple more than 80 quid to make an iPad, but they are relying on most customers choosing to upgrade to a newer device, rather than spending 80 quid on their old one - so overall, they are ahead by not needing trained people, parts, etc., to do actual battery replacements!

I also have an old Dell laptop that is now on its third set of "new clothes"...   but at this point, the screen is just so far behind modern ones in terms of image quality that I have decided to move on from it, rather than replacing the panel.  There comes a point where a product actually does become obsolete!

 

Offline Fraser

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Re: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)
« Reply #57 on: April 17, 2021, 02:42:53 pm »
Just thinking about the ‘right to repair’ from the manufacturers perspective for a moment, I can see why the big companies may not like the idea and I do sympathise with them......

1. Electronic designs can take much development time and money so are often considered ‘Company Confidential’ to protect the IPR and maintain market lead. Releasing such design information risks revealing ‘trade secrets’, even in an obsolete product. This is because obsolete products may contain design ideas that remain in current use in newer products. IPR is a challenge to protect at the best of times so releasing in depth technical details and schematics would likely trouble a lot of companies legal, marketing and design teams.

2. In order to provide technical documentation for equipment over a number of years there would be a need to correctly archive such data and that has a potential staff cost to the company. It is true that electronic storage of documentation is now simple and inexpensive but such an archive may still need an archivist to manage it.

3. Corporate liability ? If a company supplies a tech with a ‘version 6’ schematic and the tech is working on a ‘version 2’ equipment it may be of little consequence, but what if something bad happens ? Is the company that supplied the schematic in any way responsible ? Corporate lawyers get worried about such things.

4. A company is in the business of making money for its owners/investors and making profit to pay for development work. Think of the car tyre industry for a moment. If a manufacturer invented the super long life tyre that never suffered a picture and lasted at least 200K miles, that company would effectively corner the market in tyre sales and new cars might come fitted with them. BUT what happens to tyre sales ? They decline steeply due to the long life of the new tyre technology. The industry effectively collapses. There has to be ‘turn-over’ or ‘churn’ to bring in the cash to pay all the bills, investors and development. Looking at the electronics industry there may be similarity but there is also the public’s attitude towards electronics. In Japan there was an attitude that a 2 year old TV was ‘Old’ and it was maybe worth replacing it with a newer, better, model. Was that a good attitude ? No comment, make up your own mind ! There have also been policies where a vehicle over 2 years old was considered a pollution risk but disposing of such a young vehicle presents its own pollution issues ! Such policies certainly helped to boost companies sales though. If we look at less extreme examples though. A manufacturer wants the customer to upgrade or replace their equipment regularly to maintain the flow of money coming into the company. They want customers to be loyal to a brand though so the equipment must not been seen as unreliable, yet some how the customer needs to be persuaded that an upgrade is needed. That is where the marketing team earns their money. They try to convince the public that their current brand of product may be good and reliable but the newer product is better in so many ways. We have just changed our homes main LCD TV from a first Generation 720p Sony Bravia 32” LCD to a 1080p Sony Bravia “42” modern model. Why the upgrade when the ancient first Generation Sony Bravia was still working well ? My wife wanted a slightly bigger picture size and I did not disagree with her as screen sizes have increased in size whilst TV costs have plummeted. Our first Generation Sony Bravia 32” TV cost us £2500 way back when LCD and Plasma were fighting it out for market share. That Sony Bravia TV is superb build quality and still produces a great 720p picture. It has a CCFL backlight that must be wearing out by now but it just keeps on running ! The new 1080p Sony Bravia 42” LCD tv is very nice and has a superb 1080p picture, but cost less than £400 ! It comes equipped with a very capable HD LED backlit LCD panel and has SMART TV functionality built in. A definite upgrade but the old 32” still works fine so is now the main bedroom TV and the original budget range Sony 26” LCD bedroom TV has moved to the spare bedroom. This is not what manufacturers want to hear though..... they would have wanted me to upgrade many years ago and many consumers would have done so. It is not unusual for consumers to buy a new TV when new features like ‘SMART TV’, ‘OLED panel’ , ‘3D vision’ or ‘Curved Screen’ are first introduced. I am just not inclined to become a victim of ‘fashion’ though  ;D Would it actually be worth repairing our old 32” Sony Bravia TV if it failed ? Doubtful, but, being me, I would try  :-+

So where does that leave us with the right to repair ? You need to look closely at what items would likely be worth the effort and cost to repair. It is normally expensive products that justify a repair techs time but data recovery is also a worthwhile venture these days. If a product suffers a minor fault such as a power or I/O connector becomes damaged, do you really need a technical manual or schematic to repair it ? I think not. If a fault is buried in a laptop that is worth less than £150 on the used market is it truly worth spending almost its market value repairing it ! Schematics or no schematics, the repair may consume more labour hours than it is worth. Now a motor vehicle is a different matter...... it is a very expensive purchase that retains significant value over a number of years and can be very expensive to replace if scrapped. People also get attached to vehicles ! Modern vehicles contain many little ‘black boxes’ that are actually microcontrollers working on a network. Efficient fault finding on such a design demands scan tools, schematics and knowledge to interpret fault codes and their significance. Once a module or part of the network is proven to be faulty the tech often needs further bespoke tools or software to replace the faulty part. Just taking parts from a donor vehicle is not always enough. It is the garage industry that has already gained the right to repair and was able to fully justify it such that OEM’s in the USA have to supply vehicle repair manuals upon request. Will that happen in the consumer electronics industry ? Hmm, I am not sure. In the past I have purchased service manuals from Sony and they can be very expensive. For a one-off repair it may be that the service manual cost makes the item uneconomic to repair.

I will watch developments on this front with interest.

Fraser
« Last Edit: April 17, 2021, 02:56:55 pm by Fraser »
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Offline Alti

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Re: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)
« Reply #58 on: April 17, 2021, 03:07:01 pm »
(..) If T has all the N's as factors, so they all wear out at that exact time, then it's indeed time for a new appliance.
For any set of Ki, being natural numbers, there is always a day t=T where all components wear out and all require replacement same day. Even if Ki are prime, this is just T=K1*K2*..*KN.

The lesson here is that both concepts are always periodic.

If Mr. Right-to-repairer follows concept B then after t=T he ends up at the beginning of the period, just where he started with new appliance. The total cost TC is:
TC(B) = Purchase(B)* 1/N * SUM(T/Ki)

If Mr. Recycle-not-repairer follows concept A then after t=T (assume T/K is natural) he ends up at the beginning of the period where he started, but T/K'th time. The total cost is:
TC(A) = Purchase(A)*T/K

So now we have two concepts that can be easily compared since at t=0 and t=T there is nothing left from the past, play starts from the very begining.

It is right away clear that design A can make sense over design B if all the modules have approximately the same expected life.
Yes, for K1=K2=..=KN=T
TC(B) = Purchase(B)(1/N*N) = Purchase(B)
and this is true for any N.

I would rephrase your conclusion: Design B does not bring any advantage over A if Ki=T for all modules. You are scapping a totally worn out B appliance that is technically designed to be repaired but to make it work again you have to replace all N modules for a price of Purchase(B).

What happens to the model if we assume different lifetimes of the N sub-components, and also assume different costs to replace them?
Things get complicated but even with this naive model quite a lot can be deduced.
You can see that the cost of replacement matters only when Ki does not equal T.
There is going to be exactly zero demand for a spare component that has Ki=T.
 
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Offline madires

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Re: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)
« Reply #59 on: April 17, 2021, 03:23:04 pm »
I'm the family's repair shop too. Sometimes it's ;D, sometimes :scared:. So I see all the wonderful hi-tech from well known brands and cheap no-name vendors, the latest and greatest, old gems, and junk. From my experience there are a lot of smaller vendors providing service manuals for free and spare parts for a long time. Larger vendors are mostly in the "authorized service center" realm. However, you can find tons of documentation online and many resellers of spare parts. Professional 3D printing made it possible to get replacements for old broken plastic parts, e.g. you can order specific gears for old tape decks. But what I hate the most are vendors hiding bad design flaws and trying to sell the fix as repair. Do you know the fancy side-by-side fridges from Samsung? If you have one and the evaporator unit clogs up with ice after a few years, check if there's a small piece of aluminum sheet clipped onto the defrost heater protruding down to the drain hole. If not, add one (easy to DIY). It's a quite common problem with older models and can cause additional damages like a cracked water chiller tank. An no, Samsung won't fix it for free after the warranty period has passed. This was my today's "name and shame".
 

Offline SilverSolder

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Re: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)
« Reply #60 on: April 17, 2021, 03:47:24 pm »
[...]
What happens to the model if we assume different lifetimes of the N sub-components, and also assume different costs to replace them?
Things get complicated but even with this naive model quite a lot can be deduced.
You can see that the cost of replacement matters only when Ki does not equal T.
There is going to be exactly zero demand for a spare component that has Ki=T.

It seems to me that expensive components would end up dominating the model if we account for varying costs.

Real world example:   The transmission breaks in an older car.  Component = expensive,  labour = expensive.   This kind of thing can lead to a decision to scrap the vehicle due to just one broken "module".

With business model A in effect (the entire product is potted and scrapped as one after a set time), there is an implicit assumption that all parts are equally valuable, and any one of them failing means the product is not economically repairable.


Compare with replacing the brake pads...  or even filling the fuel tank!  It is an expected expense (already budgeted for), not too expensive, not a show stopper of any kind...


There is an element of how much consumers know, as well.   For example, many of us know or suspect that a battery wearing out is not a good reason to scrap a device.  But not all of us know that....   those that don't, might just accept the proposition as a fact of life!
 

Offline Alti

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Re: Right to Repair - UK and EU making changes to facilitate repairs :)
« Reply #61 on: April 17, 2021, 05:14:25 pm »
At the other extreme (your N=1 case), the entire appliance is scrapped when the part (however small) with the shortest lifespan fails, including 99% of perfectly serviceable components. Even if heroic efforts are made to recycle the machine, does it really make sense to melt down old (but working) parts to make near-identical new parts for a new machine?
My goal was to propose a simple but rigorous method of comparing two competing concepts.
I am aware this is a grossly simplified model and does not include many real life constraints. However, some obvious rules obey there in imaginary world, same as in ours. Like for example:
-Irrational decisions do not decrease TC.
-Imposing additional constraints on a design (like modularity, servicability, durability) does not decrease production cost.
-Both designs have to offer similar TC to coexist or one of them gets extinct.
etc.

It seems to me that expensive components would end up dominating the model if we account for varying costs.
I think that the model shown is complicated enough for me.
Of course you can introduce another variable and assume the price of the replacement of the component is not 1/Nth but lets say Q/Nth of purchase price. So a new B appliance costs Purchase(B) but the sum of the components costs Q*Purchase(B) now. You can go even further and compare TC of both concepts easily.

Concluding, both ideas can last indefinitely and we shall see which EU policy is chosen because clearly the world of infinite resources BS concept of today has some elementary flaws.
 
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