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The greening of electronics: Celestica's CTO says global environmental initiatives are laying the groundwork for a massive shift in industry thinking.



Ed.: For the complete article please visit circuitsassembly.com/cms/content/view/3513/

Until recently, the industry was sharply focused on producing the latest and greatest products--meeting consumer demand for the newest models of cellphones, PDAs, DVD players A stand-alone device that plays DVDs. It contains a DVD drive and the electronics to decode the digital video. The device may play only manufactured DVDs, or it may be able to play DVD-R, DVD-RW and DVD+RW discs. DVD players are cabled to a TV or home theater system for display.  and a host of other electronics products. In this business, getting to market with a cutting-edge technology is not just good for business; it is necessary for survival.

As a consumer, a technology executive and a home-electronics enthusiast, I have seen my share of "here today, gone tomorrow" technologies. Until recently, however, neither consumers like myself nor the makers of electronics products were acutely conscious of the environmental impact that electronic devices can have when they reach end-of-life and are sent to landfills. Times are changing--along with our collective attitudes toward environmental responsibility.

The European Union's RoHS and WEEE WEEE Waste from Electric and Electronic Equipment (directive)
WEEE Waste Electrical and Electronics Equipment
WEEE Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment
 directives are a clear indication of this shift in awareness. Like any significant industry change, however, these laws, along with other global initiatives, will take some time to gain traction.

RoHS, which bans six toxic substances from electronics equipment shipped into the EU after July 1, 2006, has received a great deal of industry attention. This is primarily because of the complex technical challenges driven by the removal of Pb. To overcome these obstacles and mitigate business risk, most electronics companies have spent that past few years preparing their organizations for this transition. And while most are anxious to return to "business as usual" mode after the deadline for compliance, in reality, the impact of this legislation and rapid emergence of other environmental directives means that the industry's migration toward a green future will require a more long-term commitment.

Looking ahead, key areas of industry focus after the July 1 deadline will include:

* Technical and sourcing challenges.

* The revoking of exemptions for high-reliability exempt products.

* Legal challenges and regulation enforcement.

* Compliance with existing and emerging legislation in several geographies.

* Evolving attitudes toward product lifecycle Product lifecycle or product life cycle is the course of a product's sales and profits over time. The five stages of each product lifecycle are product development, introduction, growth, maturity and decline. .

The industry has relied on lead in solder solder (sŏd`ər), metal alloy used in the molten state as a metallic binder. The type of solder to be used is determined by the metals to be united. Soft solders are commonly composed of lead and tin and have low melting points. Hard solders (i.  for half a century. An abundant supply of field data is available, as are a variety of models by which to derive acceleration factors and extrapolate extrapolate - extrapolation  test results to service conditions. With Pb-free solder, however, we have only five years of experience and limited field reliability data. There is no proven life prediction model in the public domain and we cannot reliably extrapolate current test cycle-to-fail data.

Although consortia, educational institutions and individual companies have taken great strides to prepare the industry for RoHS, it would be unrealistic to expect an immediate and seamless transition to life without lead. In fact, the first real wave of technical issues will likely arise after the July deadline. These challenges will be more prevalent for companies that:

* Transitioned to RoHS hastily hast·y  
adj. hast·i·er, hast·i·est
1. Characterized by speed; rapid. See Synonyms at fast1.

2. Done or made too quickly to be accurate or wise; rash: a hasty decision.
.

* Did not engage in proper due diligence Research; analysis; your homework. This term has caught on in all industries, because it sounds so "wired." Who would want to do analysis or research when they can do due diligence. See wired.  for new supplies and processes.

* Did not prepare for RoHS at all.

The latter group will be hardest hit as they attempt costly and time-consuming "band-aid" fixes under a very compressed schedule.

Exempt Today, Not Tomorrow

Companies that manufacture high-reliability products such as network infrastructure and high-end computing equipment are able to leverage an exemption from the Pb in solder. It is important to note, however, that the EU plans to revisit re·vis·it  
tr.v. re·vis·it·ed, re·vis·it·ing, re·vis·its
To visit again.

n.
A second or repeated visit.



re
 the exemption at a minimum of every four years. When these exemptions are deemed no longer necessary, the EU will set a target date for compliance and the next flurry Flurry

A drastic volume increase in a specific security.
 of industry activity will surround the transition of more mission-critical, complex product sets.

Said companies will need to quickly overcome assembly challenges, carefully manage the phase-in and phase-out of inventory, and ensure that they are able to source an adequate supply of Pb-free parts. To ensure a successful future transition, these organizations should start planning now.

In the meantime Adv. 1. in the meantime - during the intervening time; "meanwhile I will not think about the problem"; "meantime he was attentive to his other interests"; "in the meantime the police were notified"
meantime, meanwhile
, companies planning to leverage the exemption for lead in solder, or whose products fall outside of the scope of RoHS (such as defense and medical electronics), may find it increasingly difficult to procure To cause something to happen; to find and obtain something or someone.

Procure refers to commencing a proceeding; bringing about a result; persuading, inducing, or causing a person to do a particular act; obtaining possession or control over an item; or making a person
 leaded and other noncompliant components. The resulting challenges will be threefold:

* Parts constraints and potential obsolescence ob·so·les·cent  
adj.
1. Being in the process of passing out of use or usefulness; becoming obsolete.

2. Biology Gradually disappearing; imperfectly or only slightly developed.
.

* Price premiums for noncompliant components.

* In cases where a leaded part is unavailable, a mixed-metal manufacturing environment may arise--with compliant and noncompliant parts (requiring different processing temperatures) on the same board.

Studies have indicated that the latter scenario may actually pose more reliability issues than dealing head-on with RoHS compliance.

Technical and sourcing challenges may inadvertently act as a catalyst for exempt and out-of-scope companies, driving them to move their compliance schedules forward or reconsider transitioning to compliance. Fortunately, organizations that reconsider their approach will have a greater pool of reliability and field data to leverage. They may also reap the benefits of being first in their peer group to introduce a compliant product.

Enforcing Green

After RoHS has been enacted, EU member states will begin to enforce the law. They will no doubt make examples of the first companies to be caught with banned substances banned substance n (SPORT) → sustancia prohibida

banned substance nsostanza al bando (nello sport) 
 in their products. This may result in negative press coverage and even damage to brand image. Such actions may drive the potential to drive instances of competitive analysis, where companies analyze competitors' products to determine if they are fully adhering to the regulations. This is already occuring with WEEE legislation. According to according to
prep.
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.

2. In keeping with: according to instructions.

3.
 a recent report from the U.S. Commercial Services, a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, Germany's National WEEE Registrar has been inundated in·un·date  
tr.v. in·un·dat·ed, in·un·dat·ing, in·un·dates
1. To cover with water, especially floodwaters.

2.
 with reports from companies "blowing the whistle on competitors" that have not registered. This type of behavior is expected not only with WEEE but also with RoHS. Indeed, in some instances, environmental groups may be positioning themselves to become unofficial watchdogs.

European companies It may never be fully completed or, depending on its its nature, it may be that it can never be completed. However, new and revised entries in the list are always welcome.

This is a list of companies from the countries in the European Union.
 in the high-reliability space that have opted for full compliance instead of exemption may also add some fuel to the fire. Having spent the resources necessary to make the full transition, they will not look kindly upon noncompliant product being shipped into the EU and may lobby the government to move exemption deadlines forward, or restrict the flow of products into their region.

Dan Shea Dan Shea (born December 23, 1954 in Ontario) is a Canadian actor who is best known for his recurring role as Sgt. Siler on Stargate SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. He is also the stunt coordinator and Richard Dean Anderson's stunt double on the same series.  is chief technology officer at Celestica (celestica.com).
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Title Annotation:Life After Lead
Author:Shea, Dan
Publication:Circuits Assembly
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Words:1013
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