In a February 2013 Scope Junction article, Michael Dunn delivers the results of a survey on scope rentals. Readers were asked how often they had rented an oscilloscope. Of the 152 users who responded, more than 53% answered in the negative – they had never rented a scope.
I’m wondering – why not?
Well, I know that there is that warm, fuzzy feeling one gets from owning one’s own stuff. There’s also the Guiltfree Factor. If you own something, you don’t get that oh-no-it’s-not-mine reaction when you spill your morning coffee on the bezel.
But, emotional issues aside, what’s on the plus side for renting a scope – or any piece of test or laboratory equipment? Here are just a few well-known, but worth repeating, advantages of renting equipment.
Affordability. Rental can be more affordable than purchasing, particularly for short-term periods and if support and maintenance are included in the terms. However, the cost of both renting or purchasing equipment needs to be carefully calculated. There are many variables, including natural depreciation of the instrument, usage, the condition of the instrument (new, used, refurbished, calibrated), specifications, configurations, need for support and repair, and yes, even size. The cost of a portable spectrum analyzer, for example, cannot be calculated using the same formula as one would use to cost a roto-molding independent-arm machine. Every company must, of course, use its own formulae for calculating the cost-effectiveness of renting or purchasing equipment.
No need to be an industry prophet. When you purchase, you need to factor in the future. When you rent, you can, well, not ignore, but somewhat downplay the effects of depreciation, usage, repairs, growth and changes in the industry, and internal turbulence within your company. You need not spend too much time wondering how much dust your instrument may be gathering at the end of the warranty period, or whether it will still be happily chugging along. A child’s “I need it now” philosophy very much suits the rental option. A year down the line is not really significant because you can swap the unit, or simply not renew the rental contract.
Stay tuned for part two, in which I’ll talk about a couple more rental considerations, and more.