Does old technology create business drag?

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It’s no secret that most trucking companies try to wring as much useful life out of their equipment as possible before buying new models. Often, too, fleet managers may seek to put off buying new equipment simply because it might require different handling and maintenance than older units their drivers and technicians know inside and out.

Yet invariably new equipment is needed simply because capability is better and operating costs are lower, either through improved fuel economy, lower maintenance needs, or both (though that’s not always the case, especially in the case of the long emission regulation journey endured by the industry since 2002).

A similar strategic concern is taking shape where technology is concerned – especially in the case of personal computers (PCs), where advances in capability happen at a far faster pace.

Take a look at some of the findings from the Small Business PC Refresh Study commissioned by Intel Corp. and conducted by polling firm TechAisle, which surveyed 736 small businesses in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Russia and the U.S. to gauge the state of their PC equipment.

Overall, the poll found small businesses are holding onto PCs significantly beyond the recommended refresh date, with more than 36% owning PCs that are more than four years old.

“These machines require more maintenance, exerting a greater toll on employee productivity and higher equipment costs than the purchase of a new machine,” noted Rick Echevarria, vice president of the PC client group and general manager of business client platform division at Intel.

“On average, small business workers lose more than one work week per year due to old PCs,” he added. “PCs are largely considered the foundation for many of these companies, and this study makes a clear cut case for refreshing them on a regular basis.”

Truckers should take note of this because – surprise, surprise – most of the industry is comprised of “small businesses,” as just about 90% of the industry is comprised of fleets operating six trucks or fewer according to the most recent data.

Here are some other interesting findings Intel unearthed via its survey:

  • Older PCs negatively impact work performance. On average, employees lose 21 more hours by using a PC that is four years or older due to time needed for repairs, maintenance and security issues as compared to PCs that are less than four years old. Repair and maintenance is 1.5 times more frequent on PCs that are four years or older.
  • Repair costs for older PCs either equal or exceed the purchase price of new PCs. Small businesses are spending an average of $427 to repair a PC that is four years or older. This is 1.3 times the repair cost of PCs that are less than four years old.
  • Security risks and other costs will increase in 2014. About 47% of respondents were unaware that Microsoft is ending service support for the popular Windows XP platform, placing a higher maintenance burden directly on small businesses. Moreover, since automatic updates will no longer be provided to help protect PCs, valuable business data is more vulnerable to security risks and viruses.
  • Small businesses in the U.S. are using the oldest PCs. Of the countries survey 8% of small businesses in the U.S. are running PCs that are five years or older, in contrast to only 5% of small businesses worldwide and 1% in India.

It’s definitely something for fleet managers to chew over as they start putting the finishing touches on their 2014 business strategies. 

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Trucks at Work: Sean Kilcarr comments on trends affecting the many different strata of the trucking industry.

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