Project: Spectrum | Prototype Repairs & Updates

I actually read a little about that today on the news. Pretty interesting read. I think the example that was given was how washing machines life span could be higher with the right to repair law etc.

5 Likes

Some of the better pieces on this:

https://www.techrepublic.com/article/right-to-repair-moves-forward-for-your-broken-devices-but-campaigners-want-to-go-much-further/

New rules introduced March 1 mean that all new washing machines, hairdryers, refrigerators and displays – including televisions – sold in EU countries must be repairable for up to 10 years.

https://ecostandard.org/wp-content/uploads/ECODESIGN-PACKAGE-BRIEFING.pdf

The regulations will now cover TVs, monitors and some signage displays which is a big improvement in terms of coverage scope, and the levels will better reflect market evolution, notably in terms of standby and on mode consumption. The estimated energy savings from this revision amount to 40 TWh per year by 2030, equivalent to powering 10 million electric cars for a year.

In addition, the new legislations include repairability and recyclability requirements, which are urgently needed to reduce the considerable environmental and resource footprint of such electronic devices. A ban on halogenated flame retardants in parts of the products is also included.

Personally, I’m pretty excited about widespread adoption of efficient standby modes.

It looks like the official EU document is this one:

From eur-lex.europa.eu (excerpt)

5. Design for repair and reuse

(1) manufacturers, importers or authorised representatives of electronic displays shall make available to professional repairers at least the following spare parts: internal power supply, connectors to connect external equipment (cable, antenna, USB, DVD and Blue-Ray), capacitors, batteries and accumulators, DVD/Blue-Ray module if applicable and HD/SSD module if applicable for a minimum period of seven years after placing the last unit of the model on the market;

(2) manufacturers, importers or authorised representatives of electronic displays shall make available to professional repairers and end-users at least the following spare parts: external power supply and remote control for a minimum period of seven years after placing the last unit of the model on the market;

(…)

9 Likes

Apparently you also need to keep a copy of the firmware accessible for a long time (same EU document):

From 1 March 2021, the product manufacturer, importer or authorised representative shall make available the information set out below when placing on the market the first unit of a model or of an equivalent model.

The information shall be provided free of charge to third parties dealing with professional repair and reuse of electronic displays (including third party maintenance actors, brokers and spare parts providers).

1. Availability of software and firmware updates

(a) The latest available version of the firmware shall be made available for a minimum period of eight years after the placing on the market of the last unit of a certain product model, free of charge or at a fair, transparent and non-discriminatory cost. The latest available security update to the firmware shall be made available until at least eight years after the placing on the market of the last product of a certain product model, free of charge.

(b) Information on the minimum guaranteed availability of software and firmware updates, availability of spare parts and product support shall be indicated in the product information sheet as from Annex V of Regulation (EU) 2019/2013.

There’s a lot of good stuff in there, like this gem here on notifying the user when e.g. overdrive increases power draw:

2. Forced menu and set up menus

Electronic displays may be placed on the market with a forced menu on initial activation proposing alternative settings. Where a forced menu is provided, the normal configuration shall be set as default choice, otherwise the normal configuration shall be the out-of-the-box setting.

If the user selects a configuration other than the normal configuration and this configuration results in a higher power demand than the normal configuration, a warning message about the likely increase in energy use shall appear and confirmation of the action shall be explicitly requested.

If the user selects a setting other than those that are part of the normal configuration and this setting results in a higher energy consumption than the normal configuration, a warning message about the likely increase in energy consumption shall appear and confirmation of the action explicitly requested.

A change by the user in a single parameter in any setting shall not trigger any change in any other energy-relevant parameter, unless unavoidable. In such a case a warning message shall appear about the change of other parameters and the confirmation of the change shall be explicitly requested.

I figure most of this stuff is part of Eve’s general certification in different markets, hopefully you’ll have it all covered :slight_smile: or face the wrath of EU institutions & residents! (Not myself, I’m just watching from Canada.)

12 Likes

This is very interesting. Just like with the adoption of RoHS, this new right to repair law in the EU will undoubtedly lead to an increase in the cost of goods sold (COGS), which will ultimately lead to higher retail prices (COGS + margin % increase) or require balanced cost reductions in other aspects of the product. Of course, some products just wont be marketed in the EU as a result of this.

5 Likes

The EU is such a big market though. Companies would be missing out on a lot of potential custom; If companies decided not to sell their goods, because the users have a right to repair.

Only time will tell I guess.

I suppose the law probably would dissuade the companies from purposely manufacture tech to break. Looking on the pros side of the law.

4 Likes

Whether it breaks or not is beside the point. Either way, they will face the expenses associated.

2 Likes

You don’t think a user should have the right to repair? I can’t see it affecting prices that much to be honest. We will have to wait and see I guess.

2 Likes

I do think users have a right to repair, but what this law mandates is going well beyond that simple right, it forces companies to maintain an orderable repair parts inventory (and all the supporting infrastructure) for a lot longer than the warranty period. That doesn’t happen for free.

I also think this sort of thing hampers start ups and favors the mega-corporations that can absorb/spread out the costs more readily.

8 Likes

I do agree with you, and I can see how it will make it harder small companies to try to keep up with the very competitive market.

I guess it’s hard to find the correct balance, because it’s not just end user cost of sending things in for repair(the companies would still need replacement parts for that work), but other things to consider is how much waste/recycling aspect of technology going in the trash that could have been fixed, but got replaced instead.

5 Likes

I agree with you as well. I think we’d all prefer not to feel compelled to buy new HW all the time and instead continue to upgrade our old tech, but the reality is we also demand constant innovation and performance improvements, and most of the time that requires a complete redesign from the ground up, starting with new base materials, manufacturing processes, etc. For that reason alone, I think this aspect of the law is misguided and probably wont achieve its lofty goals.

5 Likes

Yeah, the base idea behind the law seems like a great idea but in reality it could cause more problems than intended.

While I agree with you that developing, and evolving technology to improve on past models etc. I do think sometimes the bigger corps employ tactics where “upgraded” products can be misleading, because they have a bigger model number. So it must be better right? Sometimes there are such little actual differences. It wouldn’t be worth upgrading, but because of no consumer rights for right to repair, and a broken phone for example. Some people are left with no option, but to “upgrade”.

Again I think part of it is an attempt at also trying to combat the throw away culture, but in reality there could be unseen repercussions like you previously mentioned.

Edit: Thinking about it phones was a bad example, because phones are probably the one area where there can be various notable differences.

6 Likes

One thing that is interesting to note - this could also be a doorway to opening a brand new business potential - open sourced hardware replacement parts.

Say you’re a small company developing a product, but you don’t want to have to keep product inventory on hand for years , even decades, after warranty periods end. Why not then open source your hardware specs so that a customer not only has the right to repair, but will have the right to have a newly manufactured part to repair said device with, on demand, which would absolve the company of maintaining inventory that it might potentially never use and waste warehousing space for, as well as extend the abilities of a customer to repair their own devices long after manufacturing of the product is gone away.

OK, before any of you goons decides to steal my idea - I’m filing for a trademark rights on this idea…

No, seriously.

8 Likes

And I’m not talking about bolts, washers, fans, - I mean specialized things like controller boards. motherboards, daughter boards, things like that.

I mean, wouldn’t it be great if, say, after 3,4,or 5 years (or longer, depending upon what would be considered a fair time frame) anyone could download the board diagram for the Spectrum models 1-3 controller board in the back, and get a local shop to print and assemble / print and assemble themselves, and repair their beloved Spectrum?

6 Likes

Interesting concept. Would take a lot of thought, and planning to make it work. Would love to see something like this come into fruition, but I can’t see it happening anytime soon. I personally think it would be to difficult to make something like this work.

If someone did make something like this work though, and had a decent backing with many organisations. It could be a very profitable business.

3 Likes

Agreed - it will be hard to not only set up the business, but to also get OEMs to release the specs.

Still, though, as long as the business was set up to create parts on a regular basis, and did this only on an as needed basis, it might be worth it.

Of course, this is all contingent on the fact that these small businesses who are creating product with specialized electronics don’t already have a contract with a producer to get the parts they need on a demand-only basis in the first place. If they already have that then there is no need for this business for them.

Getting back on topic, though, I sure hope the US follows the rest of the world in introducing legislation to back the Right to Repair movement.

4 Likes

I think the natural place for something like that is with the component suppliers themselves. I imagine that a lot of new procurement contracts & proposals are going to start specifying longer component availability in response to this new law. This is already commonplace to support longer product lifetimes & maximum warranty exposure, now they’ll just be extending those out to cover the full 7 years, and adding the cost into the unit prices.

3 Likes

While I would normally agree with you, and especially with the larger OEMs, smaller ones, and particularly those who outsource the actual manufacturing (or even parts of the manufacturing) to other companies will be harder hit - either they have a ‘projected need’ based on-hand inventory to keep around wasting space, or else they have an ‘on-demand’ plan to have components produced as needed in the future to comply with the right-to-repair laws and other similar laws. The former group will then face the issue of trying to balance having enough inventory for actual cases versus having too much because of bad projections, as well as the need to stockpile these components somewhere - space that will need to be paid for in some manner or fashion. The latter group will be better off as they can have the components they need only when they need them, but that can drive price up - mass producing a component 10,000 times is a lot cheaper than a small run of, say, 17.

That’s why a third party could actually make sense - theoretically. It could also be a worthless endeavor if every company simply says “We’re going to keep X% of parts in inventory, and after that we’ll simply say we don’t have any more part, sorry.” Or, they could be foolish and say something like “We’ll keep 100% of extra inventory to start with, and if we don’t see needs for having that many repaired, we’ll release a smaller run of our product at a future date using some of our stored inventory for further profit.” Or who knows what else.

It was just an idea on my part - something that might have a chance at being a sustainable business for short-term or even long-term use. But, the real problem will be the specialized chips - if there isn’t a foundry available to produce a low-volume run of the chips themselves, then making all the rest will not mean a lot at all. - unless, of course, existing chips from existing damaged boards are used. And that is exactly what I think of when I think of right to repair. I have a 6 or 7 year old monitor that I still love and want to use, but the motherboard has partially fried, or cracked, or whatever. I just need a board - not all of the components on it, though the more that are included the easier my repair job will go.

But I am certainly not blind to the hurdles such a venture would face.

4 Likes

I’ve been absent from the EVE community for a little while. Being candid, reviews such as Linus Tech Tips dented my confidence in the product. I saw the potential but I potentially hyped myself up to expect more, especially following a few delays.

And then I saw this thread and @Helios’ video. Wow! I’m glad I ignored my doubts and continued to trust the development of the product. Every step of the way we’ve been kept informed. We’re seeing hands-on products. More importantly, acknowledging that things can go wrong but also not hiding that improvements have been made on the back of the issues encountered. Looking forward to the final pieces of the puzzle!

9 Likes