Faced with the decision of buying or renting test equipment used to meet compliance testing standards or sending the product to a lab to do the test can be a tough decision. Some tests can be extremely complex, and sometimes intimidating. In the first part of this two part article, I addressed a few of the key testing standards a product might need to meet, MIL-STD-461, RTCA/DO-160, SAE and IEC, and some specific types of equipment that can be used in tests for those standards. This second part will focus more on determining the best way to get the test done. Do you take the time to research what equipment you need to buy or rent that can perform the test, or do you send it out to a lab? Here are some issues to keep in mind when making this decision.
Renting vs. Buying or Sending to a Lab
In many cases, buying test equipment sounds like a great idea, or utilizing an independent test lab makes perfect sense. If you are certain that your product will pass and you do not have the manpower to sustain the testing timeframe, then a lab would make most sense and companies who expect to use the equipment on a constant basis, and have the capital and engineers capable of performing the test, purchasing the equipment should be the right decision. However, even if you are in one of these scenarios, renting test equipment can still be the best decision. Companies big and small have found that the benefits of renting test equipment can outweigh the purchase of the equipment or sending to a lab. Much of the time, the conclusion is determined by the business philosophy and/or available cash/credit. Consider the following benefit of renting:
Expensing vs. Depreciation
There are many innovative companies out there that have found unique ways to allocate equipment expenses. Many large companies have developed models that expense the rental costs to an associated project, making the expense easy to allocate directly to the project. Also, small and medium sized businesses have intuitive CFOs whom write-off the rental costs on their taxes. Either way, it leaves the capital budget “bucket” out, which saves the company a lot of money and time.
Equipment failures in the middle of testing, capital acquisitions, re-calibrations, excess projects, whatever the emergency you find yourself in, cost you valuable time. Even fully stocked manufacturers don’t have the resources to execute immediate shipments to get you the equipment next day, or if local, within an hour like a rental can. With renting, a simple charge to a credit card can get you the equipment immediately.
Avoid Capital Spending
The process of capital equipment acquisitions can be tough and are only getting tougher by requiring more signatures, more justifications and a lot more time. Many companies’ models simply avoid capital acquisitions of test equipment by renting the equipment, giving them the flexibility to bring in the equipment when they need it, for however long they need it, and on pricing plans for long term or short term rentals.
Typically overlooked when acquiring test equipment and often frustrating when they occurs, maintenance costs can be another huge expense associated with owning the equipment. Advanced Test Equipment Rentals offered research that indicates investing an additional 50% of the MSRP on repairing, servicing, and re-calibrating test equipment.
Debating the right time to upgrade to the latest and greatest product can be like upgrading to the newest smartphone. Technology is moving faster and faster, and some testing equipment is being replaced by the next model within 18 months. When staring at repair cost, individuals immediately request a quote for the hottest equipment on the market, while looking to upgrade as seamlessly as possible. When renting, you can get the latest technology on the market.
Renting also allows you to start and complete projects on-schedule and even ahead of schedule. As is the nature of the business, customers call Advanced Test Equipment Rentals for immediate needs, and in many cases, ATEC can ship or deliver the same day, if necessary, allowing you to start the project when you are ready. Companies can also take on additional projects they normally would not have the time, money or equipment to accept.
Evaluate Equipment Prior-to-Purchase
Manufacturers of test equipment understand sometimes people want to test drive their equipment prior to spending the money, so many manufactures offer demo loaners or pay for a two week rentals from Advanced Test Equipment Rentals, just so potential customers can try before they buy. Companies also run into the issue that their capital equipment acquisitions process has become more difficult and it can take several months for approval from upper management, so in the mean-time they rent what they need until they can buy. Others also use the rental to ensure the unit they are looking to purchase will work for them now and for the upcoming projects.
Whatever test you need to comply with, renting the equipment can be the most cost effective and smartest decision. Take into account all the factors. Contact ATEC at 800-404-ATEC (2832) or visit www.atecorp.com to find out how a rental specialist can help.
Written by Richard Russo
Advanced Test Equipment Rentals