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Cash for clunkers: Old tech equipment boosts the bottom line

Mary K. Pratt | June 14, 2011
Some firms are recouping cash as they send old PCs, servers and laptops out the door.

Memorial's IT director, Becky Bunselmeyer, says the hospital had accumulated three pallets' worth of PCs, monitors, keyboards, dumb terminals and printers that were obsolete.

They weren't worth anything on the secondary market, Bunselmeyer says, and electronic recycling options weren't readily available in that region.

So the hospital signed up for the Junk-A-Juke program, which hauled away the material at no cost and then donated the scrap value to the charitable organization Feed the Children.

Beyond that, IT managers can maximize the price they get by taking certain simple steps, Houghton says. For example, recovering user passwords when equipment is turned in can speed up and simplify the refurbishing process.

Another important step is to collect all necessary components and handle simple fixes in-house. Including the AC adapter with a laptop, for example, can boost its resale value by $20 to $40. It might not seem like much, but an organization reselling hundreds or thousands of laptops during a refresh cycle could see a considerable difference in cash or credit.

GSK's Jahromi says those steps are well worth the trouble. After seeing nearly $2 million in returns from clearing out old equipment, he has instructed his IT department to make sure equipment doesn't sit around idle and is either put to use, sold or otherwise disposed of.

Beyond that, Jahromi is fine-tuning GSK's refresh cycle to ensure that it doesn't extend so long that old equipment isn't worth anything.

Over the past two years, in response to the recession, the firm extended its refresh cycle from three years to four, but it decided against five years because that extra year would have significantly diminished the value of the equipment on the secondary market, Jahromi says.

Hitting that "sweet spot" is something of a challenge, but it's one Jahromi says he enjoys. "This is where the science of it comes into play," he says.

 

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