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Why the right to repair should be extended to manufacturers

The UK Government has recently confirmed that, from the summer of 2021, consumers will have a right to repair the electronic goods they buy. This means that white goods manufacturers will be required to provide spare parts for the products they sell for at least ten years.

The goal is to limit the negative consequence of planned obsolescence and reduce the amount of e-waste that ends up in our landfills. But what about industry? Shouldn’t manufacturers have the same right to repair?

Remember the trusted washing machine you bought back in the 1980s, the one that lasted you for more than a decade? As soapy water from your brand-new model invades the kitchen floor, you might remember with a hint of nostalgia the old days, when things were made to last.

Now picture the same, but instead of a washing machine, it’s a programmable logic controller (PLC) that’s broken. As the brain of an automation system, the PLC is critical to operations, meaning that any breakage of failure impacts the productivity of the whole production line.

If a replacement is no longer supplied by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM), it can create problems that lead to an expensive overhaul of the whole production line, with long periods of downtime and a substantial loss in revenue.

The Government’s initiative to guarantee the right to repair is an excellent step to limit the negative consequence of obsolescence in consumer electronics, but the same should apply to manufacturers. The speed of technological innovation means that automation parts are becoming obsolete faster than ever before, as older versions of the same component are discontinued to make space for new models. For example, in the 1970s and 80s, a semiconductor could easily stay on the market for up to 40 years, while today’s semiconductors can become obsolete after only two years.

OEMs are not yet required to guarantee the availability of spare parts for the average lifespan of industrial equipment, so that manufacturers’ right to repair cannot be ensured. Here’s when EU Automation can help — with a database of thousands of parts from all major brands, and a global network of partner suppliers, we can always help you find the spare parts you need and ship them to you in a matter of hours.

With EU Automation on your side, you can actually opt to repair your trusted machines instead of commissioning an unnecessary upgrade. Get in touch with our team today to learn how we can help you make the most of your equipment.

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