This is the third 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. Product lifecycle vendors, content providers, niche application providers and professional consulting firms have beefed up their compliance services as manufacturers in the electronics industry struggle to collect component materials data to show their compliance.
The report’s author, senior analyst Eric Karofsky, notes that companies providing compliance services fall into four categories:
The PLM vendors that are getting the most traction include: Agile, Arena, Dassault/MatrixOne, Oracle, PTC, SAP and UGS
Content providers that are getting traction include: HIS, Partminer PCN Alert, Silicon Expert and Total Parts Plus
The niche applications getting the most traction include: E2open, MDSMap, RiverOne (acquired by i2), RoHS-WEEE.net and Synapsis
The professional services getting the most traction include: Accenture, Design Chain Associates, EDS, The GoodBye Chain Group, IBM, Linx/AS, PRTM and Wipro
While most OEMs are currently using product data management systems to store component information, as companies grapple with more environmental directives and as OEMs become more sophisticated in managing component data, Karofsky expects they will move to product lifecycle systems that will include the following tools:
Product portfolio management. Business managers need real-time knowledge about the status of a product’s compliance. Systems now do this by using a red-, yellow-or green-light approach to assess if a product or portfolio is ready to be delivered.
Customer needs management. Compliance mandates are simply a new customer need that engineers must understand and interpret into their products. Each country or customers needs its own set of requirements. Companies will need more stringent analysis to see if they should make multiple products to accommodate different customers and markets.
Direct materials sourcing. Obtaining compliant parts is critical, but because of inaccuracies, many companies are learning that product specification sheets cannot be used alone. Vendors are creating tools to facilitate content sharing with suppliers as well as to rank them based on multiple layers of criteria.
Collaborative product design. Distributed design environments can create a process problem in which critical information, such as compliance concerns, is disregarded Collaborative product design improves compliance to specification by sharing accurate design information with design partners.
Product data management. Storing and accessing component information as the most fundamental needs for compliance. An information repository that contains the BOM and can capture material disclosures provides the first step to access compliance data and prove due diligence.