Skip to content

Optimizing legacy devices and solutions – 3 points to consider

When seeking to decrease their carbon footprint and increase overall sustainability, companies should investigate the most obvious areas of improvement within the existing operations before committing to costly investments. Searching for new and better solutions can take time, and in terms of the environment, gradual small movements may create swift impacts that should not be overlooked either. Here’s our three tips for optimizing existing legacy device solutions.

1. Optimizing the use of legacy devices

There is plenty that can be done once the device is already in active use. One of the key factors in minimizing carbon footprint and energy consumption lies with the users. If we run a smart sensor, for example, with the wrong set of parameters, its battery wears out in a couple of years due to unnecessary strain. If the users know how to use the devices with ideal settings, the life cycle extends immediately. 

This could be done with basic print of pdf manuals, instructive user interfaces, or with the help of AI – all depending on the device and its capabilities and features. Through machine learning, the device could identify the use scenarios and ideal parameters for running the sensor efficiently on its own. Taking this one step further allows us to recognize potential issues before they happen. Whether it’s manual or automated work, ensuring proper parameters are used is one of the easiest ways to increase the overall sustainability of legacy devices. 

2. Improving sustainability through existing design

Reinventing the wheel entirely often takes immense amounts of resources and money. While seeking more sustainable products and devices, it is often lucrative to consider what could be done to improve the existing design instead. That way, plenty of benefits are achievable faster and more cost-efficiently. 

Often existing designs or devices can offer many possibilities to improve overall sustainability or energy efficiency. Updating ideal parameters or software on the hardware’s terms, for instance, would ensure the overall life cycle of connected devices stays as long as possible. Design-wise, improving repairability, recyclability, and component upgrade swapability are key steps for increased sustainability. And, of course, any data from a legacy device's life cycle proves invaluable when designing the next generation of devices, enabling even more efficient and sustainable solutions for the coming years.  

One example of improving legacy devices would be the case of old measuring devices in remote locations with less ideal access. Replacing each of them with newer versions can get tedious, not to mention costly, when small tweaks would still increase their life cycle by a couple of years. Maybe the devices produced relevant data when they were initially installed, but the demands of 2023 are a bit too much – more data requires more power, battery life, and bandwidth. A software update to enable more frequent data collection and processing through edge computing would mean less straining data transfers. Adding some intelligence and autonomy ensures older devices could keep up a bit longer. 

3. A second life from upcycling

One underrated possibility lies within upcycling devices. There are some laws and regulations in place that, for a good reason, prevent tampering with some of the features. But in some cases, a limited possibility of allowing users to repurpose their devices would extend the life cycle and maybe decrease the need of getting new hardware in some cases. 

One example is the Lineage OS, which is a community-driven operating system meant to give a second life for otherwise obsolete phones and tablets. Once the manufacturer ends the software support, customers can’t really do anything with these legacy devices. But maybe they occasionally need a secondary tablet in environments were purchasing a new one for that purpose alone doesn’t make much sense. Being able to extend the life of an old tablet with a couple more years adds up to the overall sustainability of that device.