OEMs may have plenty to worry about as the RoHS deadline nears. Some of their smaller suppliers may not be ready with compliant parts in time for the July 1, 2006 deadline. In other cases it’s worse – suppliers may submit false certificates of compliance, and the OEMs may end up facing fines and embargoed products.
A number of problems continue to plague the electronics industry as it moves to comply with the EU’s RoHS directive. OEMs are asking for compliance data from their component suppliers and they’re getting mixed messages. In some cases, suppliers are simply not ready for RoHS. In other cases, they say they’re ready but they’re not.
The Association Connecting Electronics Industries (IPC) has worked to help companies move toward compliance – particularly with the development of the IPC-1752 standard for communicating compliance information – yet the group finds some companies are so far behind they still need very basic information. So IPC will hold a one-day Lead-Free Boot Camp in Dallas on December 13. “The Boot Camp is for people who are not paying any attention at all,” says David Bergman, IPC’s VP of standards technology. “We’ll talk about what’s involved in the legislation and where companies can go for additional information.”
There are plenty of small suppliers and OEMs that are not prepared for RoHS. But Bergman finds it’s not just the small companies that are scrambling at the last minute to prepare for the July 1, 2006 RoHS deadline. “’We find the level of implementation varies significantly,” says Bergman. “The large companies have paid attention for the most part, but even some of the bigger companies are still missing some critical information.”
Bergman says the most pressing issue is the communication of compliance data. “There are a lot of unanswered questions about data,” says Bergman. “Data is an issue because of the large numbers of components involved. Getting data is a logistics challenge.” He also notes that getting information on the materials content of components is a challenge. “Materials declaration will be a continuing problem from now until forever,” says Bergman. “Not it seems clear that customs will be demanding the content breakdown of products for some time in the future. That will be a lingering problem.”
As the RoHS deadline approaches, it’s becoming clear that many companies – both component suppliers and OEMs will not be compliant on time. “I have talked with companies inside and outside North America who are not convinced they will be ready,” says Bergman. “The concern [among OEMs] is that they’ll get a certificate of compliance [from a component supplier] and it won’t be accurate.”
He says IPC will be telling people at the Boot Camp that they can expect to receive certificates of compliance that won’t be accurate. “You have to decide who you trust,” says Bergman. “Your product could be embargoed and you could be fined. To make sure you comply, you may have to do some testing.”