Throw out your wire-harnesses, fan-assemblies, connectors, and maybe even your screws and bolts. Sometime between now and next year, you'll need to restock your model libraries with a whole new class of parts and assemblies.
The reason? Around the world, environmental regulations are going to get tougher in 2006, especially for electronics and high tech manufacturers.
What does this mean to you, as a Pro/ENGINEER user? Imagine working for six months on a design and sending it to your supplier, only to have them build the assembly with non-compliant parts. Your work could be wasted either causing you to search for a new, compliant-friendly supplier, or ask your existing supplier to start over again using only compliant parts. Either scenario could cause you to miss crucial deadlines and ultimately lose revenue for your company. You work too hard to let this happen.
But if you watch closely and stay up to speed as the new regulations come into play, you may have a distinct advantage over competitors who are ignoring this important change in manufacturing.
Specifically, in Europe, Restrictions on Hazardous Substances -- RoHS -- will debut this July, while Waste of Electronic and Electrical Equipment, known as WEEE, will take effect in December 2006. Similar initiatives are being planned for the U.S., Japan, and China.
At issue are two particular environmental concerns.
The first involves removing toxic chemicals, such as lead, mercury, hexavalent chromium, and certain flame-retardants, from products or product-making processes. RoHS or similar laws will cover that.
The second involves more stringent recycling regulations for end-of-life products. That will be covered by WEEE-type regulations.
Here's what you, as a Pro/ENGINEER user, should do to prepare.
1) Take these regulations seriously. You may be familiar with existing regulations that institute fines against abusers, but the new regulations will be different. If your product doesn't pass inspection, authorities won't permit you to distribute your product in that country. This could leave you with inventory that you can’t sell and could even reduce your market share overnight.
Also, managing compliance will not be a simple matter for companies with global supply and distribution chains, since regulation requirements will vary from country to country and region to region. For instance, your product might be compliant in the EU, but may not be compliant with a future batch of regulations in China.
2) Know what you can do. Design engineers will be responsible for selecting compliant parts -- ranging from simple connectors and screws, to wire harnesses and other types of electrical assemblies.
As a Pro/ENGINEER user, you'll have four fundamental ways to support the new environmental regulations:
· Part identification and selection -- When evaluating new parts and assemblies, ask your suppliers for their compliance data, and store this information in your metadata library.
· Analysis – Use PTC’s analysis tools to check your final assemblies for overall compliance.
· Change management -- Ensure that changes to models and assemblies don't pull your designs out of compliance -- say, for instance, by adding a more powerful battery or a second fan assembly to a product. Or, if a supplier changes a product’s chemical content, make sure this change is evaluated for compliance.
· New design considerations -- Determine whether you should modify your design style to accommodate the environmental regulations. For instance, you may have to design for eventual disassembly, in order to make recycling easier. Also, new soldering material -- to replace lead solder -- will require higher heat, so your thermal analysis should anticipate that.
3) Start now. You've got no time to lose. Start working with your suppliers now, because the new parts and assemblies you specify in 2005 will likely show up in your finished products in 2006. Ask for, and expect, environmental compliance reports from your existing sources; and make compliance reporting a top criterion for evaluating new sources.
At a higher level, now is the time for your company -- if it hasn't done so already -- to develop a fully digital product development infrastructure, and you should wield your influence wherever possible to achieve this goal.
The reason is simple: with all-digital product development, you can track compliance more closely, and more accurately, since you'll work with a single, central model repository. You can collaborate more closely with your suppliers, too -- so rather than emailing you their Excel-based compliance reports, they can download metadata directly into your repository. Also, they can automatically update their parameters as they change their own processes, rather than making you dig into yet another spreadsheet.
So how exactly do you get started? Chad Hawkinson, PTC's Director of Electronics and High Tech Market Strategy, explains, “You'll need a disciplined approach to change management, for guiding your transition from a non-compliant to a compliant product structure. And make sure you've got the correct BOM compliance reporting and analysis tools in place," he says.
By doing these things today, you'll not only weather the coming regulatory storm, but you may also get a leg up on your competition.
· Read about PTC’s environmental compliance solution
Was this article interesting? Let us know.