Recently, a major phone manufacturer went belly-up in Scotland. Within two months, the company's test equipment was refurbished in the U.S. and installed at a contract manufacturer's facility in Asia. Deals like these are all in a day's work for Hans-Herbert Stromereder, who heads up Agilent's worldwide remarketing program, called Buyalternatives. Stromereder, who is based in Germany, says that engineers looking for a deal on test equipment that can cost tens of thousands of dollars new always had an opportunity to buy refurbished demos from his company. "But back in the early 1990s, when major aerospace and defense companies were moving out of the business, a glut of inventory hit the streets and the business of remarketing used equipment was born," he says. Agilent went public in 1996 with its program, and hasn't looked back since. Though Stromereder won't divulge actual numbers, he says that in 2001 and 2002 the amount of used test equipment available on the marketplace exceeded the amount of new equipment sold by a factor of ten. Though the economy has since improved, he says Agilent's remarketing program continues at a brisk double-digit growth rate, thanks to the company's new trade-in programs and efforts to expand its sources globally for acquiring and selling used equipment. But although engineers can expect to see Agilent equipment on eBay (a quick check reveals quite a lot, actually), don't expect to see Hans1 listed as the seller. Although the company views the on-line auction house as a channel for disposing of equipment that otherwise cannot be sold, it only gets involved directly in sales deals that include a warranty. For details on Buyalternatives, go to www.agilent.com/find/financial_solutions.
The amount of plastic clogging the ocean continues to grow. Some startling, not-so-good news has come out recently about the roles plastic is playing in the ocean, as well as more heartening news about efforts to collect and reuse it.
Some of our culture's most enduring robots appeared in the 80s. The Aliens series produced another evil android, and we saw light robot fare in the form of Short Circuit. Two of the great robots of all time also showed up: The Terminator and RoboCop.
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