As the industry struggles to comply with RoHS lead-free laws, IPC, the electronic industry's packaging group, has joined with iNEMI and RosettaNet to deliver two standard formats for companies to collect, track, and disclose information on materials content. Leading OEMs and contract manufacturers worked through two iNEMI projects to define a data collection process flow and data format for material composition data exchange. The two standards released are IPC-1751 and IPC-1752. Both are available at ipc.org/IPC-175X.
The standards were developed in an attempt to clear the muddy waters of material certification. Manufacturers deal with hundreds of suppliers, so the lack of standardization for certification documentation has become a problem in the electronics industry. Component manufacturers have been getting requests for different formats from their customers. "Suppliers are getting inundated by requests from OEMs and EMS providers in many formats," says Richard Kubin, chair of the iNEMI Business Leadership Team. "iNEMI has been working for over a year on a data structure and formats that meet the spirit of the RoHS regulations," he says.
In addition to the IPC standard, RosettaNet has launched an industry standard partner interface process (PIP) for exchanging product material composition. The PIP takes the standard format for declaring material content and puts it into an electronic format for exchange. Member companies involved in developing the PIP include Agilent Technologies, National Semiconductor, NEC Electronics, Nokia, Sony, STMicroelectronics, and Texas Instruments.
Hydrogen-Powered Shuttles Bound for Palm Springs
Ford Motor Co., the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, and the Clean Cities Coachella Valley Region (C3VR) will place at least five hydrogen-powered Ford shuttles in Palm Springs, CA next year. The Ford hydrogen shuttles are part of an effort by the Indian group, which founded C3VR, to find more efficient and cleaner ways to move visitors around downtown Palm Springs. Tribal chairman Richard Milanovich notes, "Our people have had a long tradition of caring for and nurturing our land, and we believe the tribe should continue to take a leadership role in environmental stewardship."
The shuttles are part of Ford's program to place a fleet of Ford Focus fuel cell vehicles on California roads as part of a U.S. Department of Energy demonstration project. Ford executives note that operating the demonstration vehicles in real-world situations creates the opportunity to collect data and advance the development of hydrogen-based technologies.
Lead Part Prices Likely to Rise
One of the big questions as the RoHS deadline approaches is what happens to those industries that are exempt—the military and portions of the telecommunications industry? Will they still be able to find leaded parts? According to some experts, the answer is yes, as long as they're willing to pay a premium. "The military will be challenged to find economically viable leaded parts since prices are based on supply and demand," says Peter Lachapelle, VP of content and supplier relationship management at supply chain company i2 Technologies Inc. Lachapelle notes that the exempt industries have benefited from commercial parts that come cheap due to high volume. As volumes fall, prices will rise.