In the tech industry, a device’s life cycle refers to how long it will remain in production and supported by its manufacturer. Due to the pace of innovation in the industry, tech products like computers often have very short life cycles compared to products in the automotive or industrial sectors, which are usually designed to last for decades.  

However, constant updates and changes are the last thing you want in an industrial or medical computer. A change in hardware can lead to software (or vice versa) becoming incompatible. This makes employee training irrelevant, forces you to replace other components, shuts down assembly lines or hospital wards, and leads to a dozen other headaches. 

For this reason, choosing computers with long product life cycles is critical for these sectors. In today’s article, we’ll review how manufacturers can design their products for longer life cycles and the benefits of this approach. 

How Manufacturers Develop And Support Computers for a Long Life Cycle

In technology, it’s always tempting to want the latest and best: the fastest processors, the most RAM, the highest-resolution monitor, etc. But as previously mentioned, pursuing the latest and best can cause severe issues for industries that don’t want or need this constant innovation. For example, an industrial computer behind a wall mount might be difficult or outright impossible to access for updates. 

For this reason, computer manufacturers will design their industrial and medical computers for a long life cycle by:

  • Using durable components that can withstand the stress of their operating environment. 
  • Implement design features like fanless cooling, IP65-sealed cases, and minimal moving parts that further enhance reliability.
  • Ensuring compatibility with a wide range of other devices via both legacy and modern ports. This lets the customer continue using older legacy devices while still upgrading to new options as they see fit.  
  • Committing to a product’s software image and not changing it later on. This is critical for computers that must be tested and certified before they can be used, as any change to software can force the computer to be re-certified (a slow and expensive process). 
  • Providing customer support over the long term so they don’t have to purchase replacements.  
  • Offer customization options to the customer’s specific needs, enabling them to get the maximum functionality from their purchase. This minimizes the chance that they will need to replace the computer early. 

Benefits of a Long Product Life Cycle

By implementing products with a long life cycle, both healthcare groups and industrial companies can reap numerous benefits, including:

  • Maximizing ROI: A computer that lasts for ten years rather than only five saves the company money on purchasing replacements. Given how expensive equipment in the industrial or medical sector can get, reducing the need for replacements can go a long way toward reducing expenses. 
  • Reducing training requirements: By not having to constantly train employees on new or updated equipment, companies do not have to disrupt their operations. This is especially critical in the healthcare industry, where hospital wards often cannot afford to cease operations. 
  • Freeing up IT departments: Rolling out new computers or tablets can be incredibly time-consuming for IT departments. By reducing the need to deploy new technology or troubleshoot the inevitable bugs that come with new releases, IT departments can instead focus on other tasks. 
  • Maintaining regulatory compliance and certification: For some industries, changing a computer’s software can affect its certifications and force it to get re-certified. For example, the FDA requires electronic devices used in the healthcare industry to be certified for their safety, and changing the device can void that certification. A long product life cycle reduces the need to re-test and re-certify the computer or the equipment it is attached to. 

Closing Thoughts

For end-users to get the most out of their medical and industrial computers, manufacturers must design and support for as long a product life cycle as possible. Doing so allows their customers to maximize their investment and ensure reliable performance for years to come.

If you’re looking for medical or industrial computers with long product life cycles, contact the team at Cybernet. We’d be happy to explain how we design and manufacture our devices with longevity in mind and how we can support them for years beyond their initial assembly.

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