After six years of military use, only 1 percent of TOUGHBOOKs needed repair

Author: Jimmy Mogensen, Product Manager in Precision Technic Defence A/S

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I have gotten used to my friends and acquaintances replacing their iPhones constantly. Some of them do it on a yearly basis or whenever a new model comes out. I of course understand, that for especially young people, it is important to have the latest model with the coolest design, the fastest software, the hottest new apps, the best camera etc. Only problem is that it is not very sustainable. Far from it, actually. 

In fact, according to global market intelligence provider IDC, the tech industry is responsible for 5-10 percent of the world's CO2 emissions. This fact very much has to do with manufacturers and consumers endlessly producing, replacing, throwing away and re-buying computers, tablets and smartphones.

Tech manufacturers have a green responsibility

Therefore, the tech industry's manufacturers desperately need to prioritize sustainability in relation to e.g. products’ repair ability, durability, service life and the use of recycled materials in production. And suppliers like ourselves need to choose manufacturers who live up to this responsibility. That is exactly why we have selected Panasonic TOUGHBOOK as a partner. 

Precision Technic Defence A/S supplies products and services to military and law enforcement agencies all over the world. We do so with humility in the sense that we want to protect the climate in every which way we can. For instance, by working closely together with Panasonic TOUGHBOOK, who produce computers and tablets so rugged that there is no need to replace them for years and years. Sometimes even decades.

Tablet kept functioning after being run over

One of our joined clients is the Danish Army, who in 2017 took in an order for several hundred TOUGHBOOK tablets. Soldiers in the Danish Army strap the tablets in front of their personal armour systems. On the devices, they can easily receive commands and see where both friends and enemies are located. Furthermore, the devices reduce the risk of miscommunication, secure a high tempo in operational situations, and enable officers to communicate orders to multiple platoons simultaneously. All conditions, which, in extreme cases, can mean the difference between life and death.

The remarkable thing is, that today, six years later, only 1 percent of the TOUGHBOOK tablets in the Danish Army have come in for repair. The rest of them just keep working. Even though the exact model is no longer being produced, it keeps on functioning and performing important tasks for Danish soldiers on a daily basis. And Panasonic keeps on servicing it. As a side note, four of the five tablets coming in for repair had fixable hardware problems, while the fifth one had been run over by a heavy vehicle. This had resulted in the screen breaking, but, remarkably, the tablet itself was still functioning. 

To me, this is the essence of sustainability: Rugged, long lasting products that keep working no matter the obstacles – of course until a certain point. With no need to replace, throw out or re-buy constantly.

Equivalent to taking five million cars off the road 

Only a few months ago, the European Commission published a new legislative proposal obliging manufacturers of smartphones and tablets to make spare parts and software updates available for at least five years.  This bill aims to ensure that mobile phones and tablets are designed to be as energy efficient and long-lasting as possible, so consumers can easily repair, upgrade and maintain them, and not least that it is possible to reuse and recycle the devices.

According to the EU, European consumers often throw away mobile phones and tablets prematurely, and the devices are neither used, nor recycled sufficiently. In fact, according to the EU, the environmental impact of extending the life of smartphones and tablets from two to three years to five years, would be equivalent to taking five million cars off the road. This underlines why we need long lasting and always sustainable technology products. And why we as a company insist on having specific demands for our suppliers when it comes to sustainability.  

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