Secret About TCO

The Big Secret About TCO

The Total Cost of Ownership, also known as TCO is less when it comes to rugged computers than consumer grade devices.

Looking Beyond The Purchase Price

Many businesses are tempted to base their buying decisions to the price of a product – when purchasing mobile computers or devices. However, the purchase price does not always reflect the real cost of a unit. Because of this, many buyers make costly mistake. This phenomenon is why the Total Cost of Ownership was implemented – and focuses on the cost over the life of a product.

The principle of TCO is applied by people on a daily basis in everyday life. For example, buyers research how much it costs to repair the car model before they buy it – and even compare it with a cheaper car model. Therefore, they see which is a better bargain and which car to choose.

The same concept goes with mobile computers in general. It’s simple – the computers, which are taken outside of the ‘comfort zones’ such as office spaces, cannot always handle the risks of the outside world. From water to vibration, shock, dust and extreme temperatures and temperature changes – electronic equipment is delicate when it comes to rough environment.

Wondering why is this the matter with electronics?

Well, most of the buyers of mobile computers are triggered by lower prices and discounts. This leaves them to choosing non-rugged or minimally ruggedized equipment because of the same cheaper price. They don’t see the total cost of ownership – TCO when doing this and how a rugged device may be more suitable to their needs. What happens afterwards is that they pay a lot more in the long run, when these non-rugged and cheap devices are compromised by the outside weather and conditions.

Simply put, they buy cheaper and non-rugged devices – which turn out to be the more expensive variable than rugged devices in the very end.

How Does A Higher Investment Give A Lower Total Cost?

The total cost of ownership (TCO) undertakes every single cost during the lifetime of a single product. There are hard costs and soft costs when it comes to TCO. The purchase price, development, replacement and deployment are the hard costs. On the other side, the training, repair and downtime costs are the soft costs of the TCO.

The downtime costs have been more dependent for buyers that work remotely and are mobile. For example, a field service rep does not want to risk having a device failure at the start of his day. This can lead to lost service revenue, missed calls and therefore a compromised goodwill on the side of the customer.

The mobile computers present on the marketplace can be categorized into 4 groups:

  • Commercial computers
  • Durable computers
  • Semi-rugged computers
  • Fully-rugged computers

The commercial group comprises of computers that have little to no protection against the environment, while the durable group are computers that only have rubber bumpers and preferably a shock-mounted hard drive. On the other hand, semi-rugged computers are partially tested to some of the MIL-STD_810F and IP specifications, and fully rugged units are fully tested and totally resistant, adapting to these specifications in full.

That being said, what is the difference between a commercial device and a fully rugged one when it comes to a tough environment?

The answer has already been answered by the VDC – the Venture Development Corporation, a well-known independent research company that focuses on every aspect behind rugged computers. In their variety of TCO computations across every of the 4 levels – they have computed the average total cost for each level of rugged over an average 5 year lifespan.

The results were simple. From the figure, we can see that using a commercial or non-rugged device definitely costs a lot in the long run. The cost is even 65% more than using a fully rugged device that is not compromised by any outside influence.


Wait, How Are These Results Even Possible?

It’s simple. When you think of all the things that may happen to a delicate and non-rugged device on the field, you will find out the actual results. The replacement cost can be one indicator for this.

While a fully rugged unit lasts at least 5 years without a problem, a commercial device in rugged environment are doubted to be operational after this period. Vibration, shock, temperature changes and a lot of other things may compromise them – and be a subject for their repair multiple times over the 5 year period.

So, let’s conclude things.

A Final Word

How many devices do you have to buy before you equal the price of a rugged unit?

While this is up to you to decide and figure the total cost of ownership yourself, you have to take the downtime costs, the cost of deploying a new unit and the cost of re-acquiring lost data into consideration. Sometimes, using a non-rugged device that has been compromised may mean a total loss of data – and no cost will return the information in the very end.

That is why evaluation your own working situation to determine what is the best device having in mind your own total costs of ownerships. In case your mobile computer is not working in rough environmental conditions, the best solution is to choose a fully rugged unit and never think about its function and performance again. Also, this will be the most cost-effective option in the long run.

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