No Spare Parts Distribution Plan?!


Jim Klein

Now I don't know how or if Jim Klein is related to OLPC, a Google Search didn't show any direct relationship, but he portends to speak as a member of the OLPC design team on his OLPC Follow Up Post and his answers give me concern. Specifically his maintenance Q&A:

Q - How will these devices be maintained? They will break, everything breaks, and these will be in the worst of environments for electronic devices. I don't think parts distribution is part of the current plan, at least not in anything that I've read.

A - The current plan is to provide maintenance in much the same fashion that we in the United States do with our OLPC projects - train the upper grade kids to provide this support. While this may not be perfect, it is truly the only way to get it done on a scale such as this. As near as I can tell there is no spare parts distribution plan. However, since the laptops are extremely inexpensive, it stands to reason that buying some extra units would allow for initial replacement until a critical mass of spare parts could be established.

The devices are completely sealed (ie air vent free) and contain no moving parts, in an effort to avoid much of the maintenance requirements of traditional PCs. True, failure is inevitable, but it seems reasonable to assume a fail rate of less than 1%, considering the design. And if 1 in 100 (I'd bet it will be even less) fail and aren't repaired, there will still be ninety-nine more that work.

Okay, so I agree with the training methodology, I've found older students to be the best mentors and maintenance gurus in developing countries, as they are not afraid to experiment and explore, and yet they are still too young to be considered workforce age by parents eager for another family-support income.

Needed: OLPC Motherboard Fix

But that "there is no spare parts distribution plan" gives me great pause. You are going to flood a country with at least 1 million units of brand new, cutting-edge technology without a spare parts distribution system? And you expect the countries to buy extras to cannibalize?

If we use his 1 percent failure rate (a fancifully low number for a brand new technology I say), you are talking 100,000 units or $1.4 million dollars of additional investment to get to the fabled one million unit critical mass.

$1.4 million is not an insignificant sum, even for the relatively rich countries that OLPC is dealing with now. I see bureaucrats screaming for a purchase warranty. Who wants to be the Minister remembered for buying at least $1.4 million of non-working technology that, without a spare parts distribution system, became pretty paperweights on delivery?

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Your dollar amount is about right at $140 per unit, but 1% of 1 million is 10,000 NOT 100,000.

From the OLPC Wiki:

In keeping with the spirit of this project, it is obvious that the service and support of these machines should be done by the children themselves. When the machines are distributed, there should also be a basic troubleshooting workshop, and each village should be given a technical support kit that includes a detailed troubleshooting guide, replacement parts (?) and/or instructions on how to contact home base for replacement parts and RMA for machines that can't be fixed in the field.

If these machines eventually get hooked into the internet, you can make it even simpler by allowing kids to contact a central tech support center. I know, its expensive and etc, but this is the project that will change the world inside a generation, no expense is too much.

I hope this post gets into someplace where it can be seen and commented on. I am concerned about the users (such as me) who will shortly be receiving their G1G1 units. The OLPC folks have explicitly said that they expect us to support each other. They will be providing no support on operating system or applications, and no parts or maintenance services. Therefore we need to be in touch with each other. There is an OLPC group on Google Groups, but doesn't seem to be in current use. This site (OLPCnews) has some activity, but seems designed more for news, with colors and photos. Perhaps the sponsors could set up a separate area that is more easy to navigate and follow a thread on, maybe only for people who actually have an XO-1. Our needs will be very different than that of the people who want to continue discussing the OLPC project, rather than how to actually use the unit. The needs of the (independent) users in the US are different from the needs of the school groups in other countries.

At this point, I don't think any of us even know what we're getting: will we have a 110v charger? If not could we get a plug adaptor to utilize a cell-phone charger? Does it come with any instructions? Talk about taking a leap of faith. I hope this site or some other can meet our need to communicate.

My son Ryan stepped on the screen while it was in display mode. The display is cracked. The display needs to be replaced. Any idea how I get a replacement display?

Hi fello G1G1-ers. I am thrilled to have my green machine but I really thought it would be usable w/o electricity. I wanted a crank or a solar unit. Does anyone know anything about this?? KHG Byrne

Hi fello G1G1-ers. I am thrilled to have my green machine but I really thought it would be usable w/o electricity. I wanted a crank or a solar unit. Does anyone know anything about this?? KHG Byrne

I just love my little xo laptop, I hope they continue to be available in the US.Even at the give one get one price of $400 I don't think you could find another device that does so much for so little. It does a very good job of browsing the web,though even after downloading flash it doesn't play video that well.(maybe it's my router, I got the cheap one).I'm typing this message on my xo.

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