Computer Hardware Career Allows Interesting Avenues of Growth

Posted August 29, 2014 by
Technician repairing computer hardware in the lab

Technician repairing computer hardware in the lab. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Computer hardware as a career had its beginnings in the 1980’s and since then has grown by enormous proportions. Computer hardware as an industry is comparable to any other manufacturing industry with multiple functional areas and several operational divisions under a single functional area. A typical computer hardware company has manufacturing and marketing facilities and has employee strength depending upon its scale of business.

Principally there are two distinct facets of a computer hardware company: manufacturing and marketing. Manufacturing is usually carried out from a central location and marketing is effectuated through branch or regional offices. In a factory the functional areas of a hardware company include: procurement, component testing, assembly line, quality assurance, packaging, dispatch, administration, accounts, and R&D (research and development).  At the branch level marketing is the principal activity supported by a service team, administration, and accounts divisions. Depending upon the number of employees, some companies have a specialised human resource team looking after welfare of employees of an organization.

Opportunities in Regional/ Branch levels

Varying on the extent of operation a computer company could have regional offices assisted by several branch offices, or a single office looking after business operations of an entire region. Geographical expanse and market potential are the two deciding factors of the style of operation a company adopts. The different functional areas in a branch office are:

Marketing – For any commercial company marketing is perhaps the most important function as it generates revenue for it. This team is responsible for identifying target areas and address them as per their respective merits. Depending upon experience and credentials a person is recruited as a lead generator, marketing executive, business development executive, area manager, business development manager, branch manager, and regional manager. A branch or regional office could have more than one area manager, or business development managers looking after different segments such as education, government, corporate, retail and so on.

Some computer hardware companies have dealer networks under dealer development managers at regional levels. Dealer network forms the indirect marketing team of a company.

Marketing division is responsible for creating leads and convert them to revenue channels. All related activities like quoting, negotiating, attending tenders, and collecting payments are responsibilities of the marketing team. Even business projections of a branch or region are given by marketing teams.

Maintenance – Every marketing set up has a maintenance team consisting of hardware engineers, software engineers, and support staff. They are responsible for installing and commissioning of systems at the customer’s location. They provide preventive maintenance for installed systems during the warranty period. As per warranty terms, defective components are replaced if needed.

The maintenance or service team has an immense role to play in keeping a customer satisfied. In computer hardware business it is a trend that nearly 60 percent of revenue earned during a financial year comes from existing customers. For computer hardware business, a relationship begins after systems are sold. Users must be kept happy to ensure repeat business. It is the responsibility of the support team to attend complaint calls promptly. There are certain installations where systems are kept on 24×7. These installations demand a service engineer to be stationed round the clock.

For any hardware company, maintenance contracts form a substantial earning every year. Maintenance contracts usually for a period of one-year are signed after expiry of warranty period. These service contracts are comprehensive in nature and cover systems supplied together with peripherals if any. Software support and upgrading is also done at additional cost. A service team is supported by service coordinators who keep records of incoming maintenance calls and distributes them to concerned service engineer. A store-keeper is another member of the maintenance team. It is his/ her responsibility to keep a record of all defective parts being returned or replaced. Each component coming in is tagged, marked and recorded.

Accounts and administration – In a branch or regional office of a computer hardware company, accounts and administration is clubbed together to form a single department. The accounts department keeps a record of all payments coming in. They also are responsible for disbursal of salaries, reimbursement of tour expenses, payments to local suppliers, and transferring funds from local office to head office. Administrative responsibilities include maintenance of office, appointment of support staff like runners and drivers, and staff welfare.

Opportunities in manufacturing facility

Computer hardware manufacturers – are essentially OEMs (original equipment manufacturers). They procure components from various sources and integrate them to produce computer units.

Procurement or materials management – This department is responsible for procuring materials from domestic and overseas sources. Their expertise lies in buying materials that conform to international standards of quality and are at the same time affordable. Some components like keyboards, monitors, and mouse are bought from their respective manufacturers. Other components like processors, motherboard, storage disks, and memory are bought from OEM suppliers.

Quality testing – Quality testing in factories are done at two levels: i) component testing, ii) equipment testing. Under component testing, procured components are tested through samples. Samples from every batch of component coming in are tested. Once certified, they are sent for integration or assembly. The next round of testing is done after integration of computers. Equipment testing involves several rounds. A series of tests are conducted before a system is certified for packing and dispatch.

Assembly line – After the first round of testing of equipments, they are sent to the assembly line for integration. Integration of these components is the actual manufacturing that takes place in computer hardware factories. An assembly line employs the largest number of members in a production unit.

Packaging and dispatch – After every unit is assembled and tested, it is packed and made ready for dispatch. Formalities of excise are completed by this department.

Research and Development – R & D is an inseparable part of manufacturing facility of computers. The best brains in this field are engaged in this discipline.

About the author – Bruce is owner and founder of data recovery located in Denver, Colorado. Bruce worked in data recovery field for over 15 years. His articles are informative and illustrative.

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