If the parts industry won’t create unique part numbers for lead-free parts, how about adopting standards for green labeling? The National Electronics Distribution Association (NEDA) is pushing for parts suppliers to adopt standard messages on labels that indicate a component is lead free. “There are several label standards, one from JEDEC (http://www.jedec.org/) and one from IPC (http://www.ipc.org/), and those standards address putting a lead-free label on your part,” says Barney Martin, VP of industrial practices at NEDA.
Martin notes that the labels are not only important as parts move through the supply chain, but they’re also important for those in manufacturing who have to alter production to accommodate differences in the material finishes on the components. “This is an operational issue for people on the plant floor,” says Martin. “The label will give the plant folks lots of good information about the composition of the part.”NEDA has been pushing hard for suppliers to adopt unique part numbering for lead-free components. The association released a position paper last year on the conversion to RoHS compliant components on behalf of its distributor members (http://www.nedassoc.org/leadfree.pdf). The central point of the paper was a call for suppliers to adopt unique part numbers for lead-free components. The group believes the absence of unique part numbers will cause supply chain difficulties.Yet NEDA executives concede that not all suppliers will issue unique part numbers. “We believe there ought to be a part number change, but some folks are not making that change, so the next issue is labeling,” says Martin. “People are already delivering their parts RoHS-compliant and they’re using all manners of labeling to communicate they’re lead-free. We want the industry to standardize on labeling.”Martin notes that other RoHS issues came up during the association’s one-day conference on the subject. The meeting was held in Chicago last June. “There are problems with the way companies communicate that their parts are lead free,” says Martin. To help alleviate the chaos that comes as each supplier communicates its lead-free status in its own manner, NEDA has produced a spreadsheet suppliers can use to standardize their communication to their customers. It’s available for download at no charge: http://www.nedassoc.org/NEDA%20RoHS.xlsMartin also notes there is continuing confusion over the manner in which suppliers deliver information on the material content of their components. “The industry still needs to address the issue of chemical content reporting,” says Martin. “Suppliers are giving that information in different formats.” He notes that iNEMI has issued a standard on the communication of chemical content that may become the industry standard.