This is the second in a three-part series on the lingering difficulties of complying with RoHS.
Months have passed since the July 1, 2006 European Union RoHS deadline, but the electronics industry is still far from complying with the directive. Collecting and managing the data efficiently remains one of the biggest hurdles. According to a recent report from AMR Research, “RoHS: The Data Collection Problem,” the electronics industry is struggling with the exchange of materials content data. For one, the IPC 1752 standard is not getting widely adopted.
The report’s author, senior analyst Eric Karofsky, said that the IPC 1752 standard for exchanging materials content could be a big help, though it isn’t seeing widespread use. He notes that the standard arrived with a great deal of promise, but much of that promise as failed to materialize. “The hope behind IPC 1752 was that it would create a consistent format to transfer detailed specifications between the members of the global electronics supply chain,” says Karofsky. “Leveraging Adobe’s Acrobat technology, many industry members hoped that it would proliferate and become a standard.”
But it didn’t work particularly well at unifying how the industry exchanges data. “While several have adopted 1752 as their key platform to exchange information, it is a stretch to state that the initiative has been a success,” says Karofsky. “In fact, fewer than 100 companies publicly support the standard, many of which are vendors that offer products to aid 1752 as opposed to OEMs that are actively using it.”
Karofsky points to a number of hurdles that have stymied to adoption of IPC 1752:
It was too late. The deadline for compliance was July 1, 2006, yet the form was officially released on March 9, 2006. Most OEMs had already started down the data collection path using their own self-defined forms and processes.
Little industry pressure. Even though it was late, many major OEMs that could have adopted the standard and forced its use decided to use their own proprietary forms. While several of the 100 companies that support it are major OEMs, few actively enforce the use of the form.
Technology hiccups. Several technology problems after release, such as forms expiring, caused many to lose confidence and look for alternatives.
Functionality is still a concern. The form still does not offer the flexibility needed by some OEMs. Large file sizes, the inability to utilize graphic digital signatures, and the need to send out a form for each and every component, rather than by product or supplier, are issues that aggravate members in the supply chain.
The third part of this article will look at the way PLM vendors are pitching in to help with compliance.
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