At a recent User Group Conference for Gateway Ticketing System’s hospitality customers, I was asked to speak to some of the world’s largest hospitality players about how to protect their hardware investment.
The discussion covered many topics including;
- General best practices
- Environment factors
- Components that work with the Gateway Ticketing software
- Routine maintenance
- End of life vs. end of use
- Best practices in disposing of hardware
Starting with general best practices the biggest message was to use common sense and treat the equipment as if it were yours. Our equipment is more robust than a consumer grade device and built for the environments our customers install within. Discussions around not using abrasive chemicals or pouring liquids on the equipment also occurred. We even had some of the Gateway Service people have a little fun with it using the scanners for laser tag.
Next we moved to Environmental factors where we spoke about making sure the location you pick to install it has things such as
- Adequate airflow
- Away from drink dispensers where opportunity for sticky liquids can cause issues with magnetic swipe readers or just general spillage.
- Making sure you have sufficient electrical power that isn’t being shared with high draw devices such as refrigeration, cooking or cooling equipment.
- Making sure that the cable routing is dressed properly so they don’t get damaged, pinched or caught in printers or cash drawers.
Since this was being done at a Gateway Ticketing show, we spoke about equipment that was fully tested and certified to work with their software. For issues like this, PAR fully tests our hardware with all operating systems and device drivers as part of our validation process. Then partners like Gateway who use our PAR ES7000 and ES8000 POS Terminals take their software and run another round of testing including hardware, operating system and software quality assurance testing before certifying the hardware for use with their customers. This ensures compatibility throughout the lifecycle.
Next comes routine maintenance tasks to keep the system running at it peak during the lifecycle. For this area we discussed:
Proper cleaning – using a damp towel with carbonated water wipe down the terminal, never pour or spray cleaner directly on the cable connections. Also when choosing a cleaner never use abrasive or ammonia based products to clean and never use sharp objects to clean the edges of the touchscreen, this could result in a scratch on the surface that requires repair.
Occasionally it is a good idea to clean the magnetic swipe reader. Its best to use a cleaning kit specifically made for this type of device.
Other best practices fall into the common sense category again but worth reminding your employees including:
- Never pour liquid on the terminal on purpose.
- Do no lean on the terminal as over time could cause cracked casework and failures.
- Do not break coins on the cash drawer, doing so could bend the rails and cause the ball bearings to come out.
- Check and redress any cables that may have become loose to prevent damage.
To start the next topic a live survey was then conducted of the 250 attendees on how long on average they keep their hardware before replacing. The results showed an equal split 2-3 or 4-5 years on average with some as much 10+.
We then spoke about what “End of Life” vs “End of Use” means:
- End of Life – this is the last time you can purchase the product “New”.
- End of Support – this is the period of time after the last new sale date that the product will be officially supported. The timeframe for this type of support depends on availability of parts to make any repairs to the equipment.
- End of Use – this is a tricky one since it can vary wildly depending your knowledge level of the equipment and the amount of risk you are willing to take. Since it is usually past the end of support time if a problem arises you may be on your own since parts may no longer be available to make any repairs. This could leave you in a situation where you would be forced to purchase the newer equipment.
Finally, we got to the product lifecycle is at its end, what do you do with the equipment. Technology disposal comes down to three areas of concern: fiscal, legal and environmentally responsible disposal of your technical assets.
From a fiscal perspective assuming that the equipment was properly amortized throughout the lifecycle. However, you need to have accurate records of the assets you are removing from your environment to remove it from your books.
The legal concern comes from software license infringement, data confidentiality and data security. This is accomplished using a company that can take ownership and provide a chain of custody and certification paperwork that the assets were properly handled, all data properly wiped from hard drives and an audit trail of final disposition of each asset.
Then there is the environmental aspect. Electronics contain many metals, plastics and glass that we do not just want to dump in a landfill. Responsible recycling conserves natural resources, avoids air, water pollution and greenhouse cases in manufacturing new materials.
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