Easy Tips to Decode Your Industrial Electronic Repair Report

Simple electronic repair reporting

Is your repair report baffling you? Wondering what in the heck those techs did?  Many purchasers of industrial electronic repairs are very knowledgeable about electronics, but more than a few are not.  And just for the record, we agree, repair reports can sometimes be mysterious and confusing.

Fear not! Knowledge is power and for those folks who don’t have a strong knowledge of electronic repair terms, we created an “electronics repair cheat sheet” of parts and terms frequently seen on repair reports for industrial electronic equipment.  Never be in the dark again!

  • Capacitors (Caps) replaced – A cap (short for capacitor) is a device for storing a charge of electricity; frequently seen in power supplies, drives, and on many circuit boards; this is NOT a DIY repair item for most as caps can cause a painful and possibly lethal electrical shock if touched even if disconnected for weeks. Capacitors are the number one component to go bad (“blown capacitor” is the usual term for this) and often need replacement in failed electronics.
  • Diodes replaced – diodes are semiconductor devices that allow current to flow in only one direction; often used in power supplies and circuit boards (diode array is a grouping of diodes that may or may not be connected and each allows the flow of electricity in one direction and prevents it in the opposite direction). Diodes vary in shape and size, but are always mounted to a “heat sink” to dissipate the heat created by current flowing through them. Causes of diode failure are usually voltage spikes and reversed polarity of the DC connection.
  • EEPROM – stands for “Electrically Erasable Programmable Read-Only Memory”, used in many electronics to store small amounts of data like a mini-hard drive with information for the processor to run the machine.
  • Cathode or CRT replacement– short for Cathode Ray Tube is a big, heavy gas discharge light source that makes its light output from a phosphor coating inside the glass envelope; used inside of older monitors including some touchscreen monitors
  • LCD replaced –“Liquid Crystal Display” monitor screen that shows/displays a video signal. It is usually far cheaper and easier to replace an LCD screen than to attempt repair.
  • Solder/solder traces reflowed – solder is made of metal alloys used to join together metal surfaces to each other. The solder traces are the silvery lines of metal connecting electronic components. These are often “reflowed” during repairs because they can develop micro-fractures – nearly invisible-to-the-naked-eye cracks that can make your electronics fail. Older solder is lead based while newer solder is lead-free.
  • Switches replaced – just like a light switch, these are small devices that turn a circuit on or off in all electronic devices. Switches can usually be replaced when they fail.
  • SCR, MOSFET, IGBT replaced – All of these components are output power devices. IGBT stands for ‘Insulated Gate Bipolar Transistor”; MOSFET – “Metal-Oxide Semiconductor Field-Effect Transistor”; SCR – “Silicon Controlled Rectifier”, These components frequently go bad and need replacement during repairs.
  • ICs replaced – IC stands for “Integrated Circuit” aka chip or microchip. They are a semiconductor wafer with thousands or even millions of tiny resistors, capacitors, and transistors. They can be used as an amplifier, oscillator, timer, counter, computer memory, or microprocessor. These can usually be replaced unless they are custom or contain proprietary programming or code and are password protected.
  • Resistors replaced – a passive component that regulates (resists) the flow of electrical current which controls the current to other component(s) in a circuit for example, resistors keep LEDs from blowing up the second power is applied which means they are a frequent casualty in damaged electronics. Resistors are in virtually every circuit out there.
  • Input/Output tested – the place where the power leaves or enters a piece of equipment or a system; for example, many non-working power supplies come in with a problem description of “no output” or more simply, “doesn’t work”.
  • Conformal Coating/Recoated – a chemical coating of polymer or epoxy applied in a liquid form that dries and “conforms” to the circuit board shape to protect electronic circuits from harsh environments; frequently found on marine electronics. Coatings can often, but not always, be removed using an appropriate solvent and reapplied after repairs are made.
  • Leakage Current – means electrical current that exists where it shouldn’t; frequently happens when insulation is old or damaged, and also in power devices such as MOSFETs, IGBTs and Capacitors.
  • Load (or Line) Regulation – the ability of the unit to maintain a constant voltage or current level on the output channel even if there are changes in the supply’s load; usually a term for power supplies. AVC – Automatic Voltage Compensation is one type of regulation.
  • Troubleshooting unit – just like it sounds, the technician spent time searching for the damage or problems using various visual and test methods.
  • Bench tested – literally the unit is placed on a technician’s workbench and all basic functions are tested, typically both before and after repairs.
  • Load tested/tested under load – tested by putting a demand on the device and measuring or testing its response under expected normal and peak load conditions but not tested in its normal work conditions
  • Statically tested – dry run testing to verify it works but not necessarily tested in normal work conditions or under load
  • Dynamically tested – tested by subjecting the unit to simulated work conditions that could include vibration, shock, bumps, temperature and humidity variations, etc. to make sure the unit works in most expected conditions
  • QC Passed – Quality control has inspected and approved all of the work from repairs to cleaning to reassembly

This list is just a small sample of commonly used electronic repair terms. If you receive a repair report and don’t fully understand it, you should not hesitate to call your repair center for more explanation.  Any customer- oriented repair center should be more than happy to explain their terminology and work completed.

If you are searching for a repair center for your damaged industrial electronics, check first to see if your equipment is still under warranty and if so, contact the OEM about repairs. If it is out of warranty, contact an independent industrial electronic repair center to find out if they are a good fit for your company and your particular repair needs. They should offer free evaluations for your damaged equipment and, if needed, a free quote for repairs (no bench fees!).  They should also provide repair reports if requested and a good warranty of at least one year that covers both parts and labor.

About the Author: ACS Industrial Services is an independent industrial electronic repair center providing repair services for printed circuit board repairs of all types and manufacturers, drives, servo motors, CNC equipment, encoders, monitors and touchscreens, PLCs, test equipment, and much more. The customer service team is available to answer your questions and help solve your industrial electronic repair concerns. You can reach them by calling 800-605-6419 or going to www.acsindustrial.com .