A pile of scrap PCBs or an opportunity to refurbish and reuse?


What do you see…a pile of scrap PCBs, or an opportunity to refurbish and reuse?

If you see an opportunity to refurbish and reuse, great, you need not read any further.

If you see these as scrap PCBs destined for landfill, then this is an opportunity for education.

PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards) are in all electronic equipment the World over. They have hundreds of components soldered to them. These components fail over time. It only takes one of these components to fail to stop a PCB working. This then can stop an entire machine or production process.

Maintenance engineers can generally fault find to PCB level. Usually the PCB is swapped out and the machine or process can continue. Job well done and the production manager is happy again.

In a typical industrial process environment this happens every day… PCB fail…PCB replace…Buy new PCB.

The faulty PCBs then begin to pile up, they have no value, they end up in landfill. This is totally avoidable.

PCBs can be repaired, refurbished and reused.

I bet a few of you are thinking…”Ok, but I don’t trust PCBs that have been repaired”, or “I’ve been told they are not repairable by the OEM”, or “I’ve tried before and it doesn’t work”.

I’d reply with…
– really? Military, power generation and mass transport companies repair their PCBs regularly.
– OEMs want you to buy new, more often than not components are readily available for most PCBs, irrespective of OEM.
– You might have had a bad experience with a repairer who either didn’t have the right skills or equipment to repair your PCB.

I will add that no repair company can repair everything, those who say they can might not be telling you the truth. It does take skill and the right equipment to repair PCBs properly. I mentioned earlier that it can take just one component to fail to stop a PCB working. Fault finding is the most crucial skill in PCB repair. You need equipment that can test the components such as The ABI Boardmaster that Willian Santos so successfully sells. We have one such unit that is continually in use in our repair workshop.

Would that make you think twice about throwing your faulty PCBs away?

Well if not, give these points some consideration would you?

Obsolescence. OEMs plan in obsolescence, put quite simply they stop making them. They can then be very difficult to get hold of. I bet you’ve searched eBay and automation houses for replacement PCBs? Well, repairing your PCBs is an alternative to this. There is also the cost associated with upgrading equipment. Repairing returns a massive cost saving as opposed to upgrading equipment.

The environment. I’ll close off here with a simple statement. Repairing PCBs means less waste and fewer resources taken from the planet.

If you’ve got PCBs piling up and you would like to know what can be done, maybe you’d like to know more about the repair process. If so, please get in touch. hello@fletchermoorland.co.uk