The problem of product obsolescence — and what the atm industry is doing about it atm marketplace

Worse, the cost of appliance parts and repairs today can easily set you back more than half the cost of a new machine. And with the clock ticking on the other components of your 8-year-old model, the economics of repair get really dismal really fast.

That’s why, for years, I fixed my own large appliances when they broke down — until a catastrophe with a clothes dryer whose motor I was replacing sent me to the emergency room for four hours and 16 stitches. My husband pointed out that the bill for that side trip would have paid for a new dryer.

So, last week, when the ball bearings in our eight-year-old washing machine started making a noise during the spin cycle that sounded like an Airbus taking off in the basement, I reluctantly started shopping — not for parts, but for a new machine.

You can rage, rage against the dying of a machine that still looks almost new, but has chewed-up ball bearings and a computerized display that’s starting to hiccup occasionally. Or you can go gently into that good Big Box nearby and pay for a new one.

In a 2016 blog, Daryl Cornell, CEO of ATM-maker Triton, wrote that U.S. ATM deployers ultimately might discard as many as 200,000 ATMs in the process of migrating their fleets to EMV, in most cases because the cost of upgrading is more than the ATM is worth.

In recent years, banks have faced an accelerated rush to ATM obsolescence brought on by the sunsetting of Windows XP. The looming end of support in 2020 for its successor operating system, Windows 7, will send another load of obsolete ATMs to the dump as financial institutions migrate to Windows 10.

NCR Corp. showed how this might be accomplished with the Kalpana thin-client ATM. Its design removes the software stack from the ATM hard drive to a remote server, greatly reducing the issue of hard drive capacity that comes with every new OS upgrade.

Diebold Nixdorf jettisoned peripherals with its small-footprint Essence touch screen ATM concept, which has neither a PIN pad, card reader or receipt printer. Card access is enabled via NFC technology, PIN entry is on screen, and a digital record of the transaction is sent to the user’s email address or mobile number.

An even more minimalist Diebold concept does away with a screen as well, reduced more or less to a cash vault with a dispenser and a biometric iris-scanner for user authentication. It utilizes the NFC-enabled smartphone in the user’s hand as contactless card reader, display, keyboard and QR code-based transaction verifier.

Until then, the best option for the industry is reuse and recycling. In a recent blog, Mark Smith, Director Of Business Development at MVP Financial Equipment Corp., described the benefits of ATM recycling and refurbishment — for both the environment and the buyer of the refurb, which generally costs 60 percent less than a new machine.

Through a qualified refurbishment company, certified technicians repurpose important ATM components. Mainboards, cash dispensers, displays, cabinets and more are carefully disassembled, cleaned, repaired or rebuilt from the inside out, repainted and tested to ensure they are working properly.

Next time you’re looking to replace an old machine with a newer one, be sure to ask the vendor whether they accept trade-ins for refurbishment or recycling. Steadily growing numbers of companies in all industries are joining this important effort.

The company I bought our new washing machine from is one of them. So, on Friday, the Airbus wannabe in the basement will be replaced and hauled away to begin its journey to the refurb market. The matching eight-year-old dryer will follow when it breaks down. I’m pretty sure my husband will insist on it.