Not too long ago many machine designers only considered the purchase price of automation components, like linear actuators, when they analyzed cost. And manufacturing management only looked at acquisition cost when they considered investing in automation.
Now machine designers and manufacturers are using a more thorough approach to cost analysis. Rather than looking at purchase price alone, they are looking into the “total cost of ownership” of a component, machine or technology. It's a business finance concept, used frequently when considering computer system upgrades.