Most large component suppliers are in good shape for meeting the RoHS deadline, but anecdotal evidence shows there are real problems at smaller component manufacturers. Even some of the larger parts manufacturers are struggling to get compliant on their entire component line. This anonymous comment in response to an earlier Lead Free Zone blog is an eye-opener:
“A recent effort by our company to find a specific RoHS-compliant connector was a lesson on frustration. The larger manufacturer hadn’t yet made the conversion, while quite a few of the offshore manufacturers were claiming compliance and providing documentation. But we have no idea if the part in question is actually compliant. It is going to be a question of ‘Sorta kinda trust, but verify . . . .’ If we want our customers to trust us, then we’ll have to do the due diligence and test the component(s) in question.”
Testing services such as Underwriters Laboratory may get a lot of business in 2006 as OEMs turn to unknown suppliers for RoHS-compliant parts. The European Union won’t take the excuse, “But my supplier said these parts were compliant.”
For industrial control applications, or even a simple assembly line, that machine can go almost 24/7 without a break. But what happens when the task is a little more complex? That’s where the “smart” machine would come in. The smart machine is one that has some simple (or complex in some cases) processing capability to be able to adapt to changing conditions. Such machines are suited for a host of applications, including automotive, aerospace, defense, medical, computers and electronics, telecommunications, consumer goods, and so on. This discussion will examine what’s possible with smart machines, and what tradeoffs need to be made to implement such a solution.