In 2003 Kyle Wiens broke his iBook. When he tried to fix it, instructions didn’t exist online—so he tinkered, fiddled, and eventually fixed it. But his experience was miserable. The exercise demonstrated that a lack of instructions prevented most people from fixing their stuff themselves. That’s not a world Kyle could abide. What’s more, fixing those barriers to repair would be a windfall for the world economy.
So for the past 17 years, iFixit and our global community have created nearly 70,000 step-by-step repair guides for more than 30,000 products. We’ve helped consumers learn how to fix their stuff, and encouraged them to think differently about the stuff they buy.
Today, we’ve set our sights on a new partner: manufacturers. We want to help companies build more repairable products. A good manual and proper tools don’t help much if the product is impossible to take apart. Ditto if repairs are more expensive than buying a replacement product. That’s important, because repairable products are better for the environment, and will help many industries avoid critical shortages of rare materials. We’re going to use our experience and tools to help companies make repairable products the norm.
We’ve posted the details of our repairability consulting services, but here’s the short version of what we can do:
- Repairability Assessments: A technical report evaluating the assembly and industrial design of a product, based on how repairable it may be in the field or during refurbishment. We assign a repairability score from 0-10 to provide manufacturers with a baseline for a particular product or product family, enabling direct comparison to competitors’ devices.
- Design for Repair Workshops: With technical analysis and market-driven discussion, we help product engineers and sustainability teams better understand how design choices impact the longevity, perception, and repairability of their devices. We offer on-location and virtual hands-on workshops to help designers make products more repairable, durable, and sustainable.
- Compliance guidance: France is going to start requiring products to show their repairability score (‘Indice de réparabilité’) in retailers on January 1, 2021, and we expect other regulators to follow suit. Twenty US states have proposed Right to Repair laws. Our serviceability experts can assess products for these new repairability regulations—providing easy compliance and areas of improvement.
While this is our first public announcement, our team of engineers have been building this program for the past decade. In 2012, we started working with Patagonia and published repair guides for a wide range of outdoor gear. We’ve worked closely with HP for years. And we helped Motorola launch a successful aftermarket parts solution for their smartphones.
The timing of this announcement is not incidental. We are facing a global shortage of laptops and technology for working from home. In order to fill that need, people are holding onto their products, seeking the knowledge to fix broken ones, and buying used. Even as supply chains recover, maintaining and repairing are ever more appealing. But most of all, we see a growing movement.
France’s 2021 rule will require that all smartphones, notebooks, TVs, washing machines, and electric lawn mowers have a posted repairability score. France’s repairability scoring involves five main criteria:
- Availability of service manuals
- Ease of disassembly—including types of fasteners and required tools
- Access to replacement parts
- Price of those parts compared to the price of the product
- Device-specific concerns, such as the availability of software updates
We’re excited to see France leading an initiative toward durable, repairable products. But we’re even more excited to help manufacturers build a more sustainable future for all of us. We think there’s a huge opportunity for brands to build customer trust with long-lasting products. A small investment now will build customer loyalty for years to come.
If you’re a manufacturer looking to make your products last longer, reach out to our Services team.