Back to basics: Environment first!!

In any project plan, there is generally an awareness of the phases of the project life cycle (PLC) which is mapped out from product concept through to product end of life (EOL).

The program management of these phases is critical to the successful on time delivery of an electronics “widget” into today’s environmentally aware (and legislated!) market place.

The place to start is actually at project phase zero. This is where the (generally) marketing team are preparing a presentation to executive management about the possibilities of getting the engineering design team to design the latest “must have” “whiz bang”: “next big thing”: piece of electronics so that they can launch it into the market place.

From a program management perspective this used to be a relatively easy task since apart from the usual Design Verification Testing (DVT), reliability requirements, and various safety and emissions testing, there were no actual environmental (elemental) considerations to speak of in electronics.

In the new framework, the program manager needs a checklist that contains many more points than would have been previously considered.

Let’s look for a start at the marketing requirements document (MRD). From a program management perspective this document now needs to cover the countries for which the product is aimed and ALSO those countries to which the marketing guys may wish to migrate sales of the equipment.

At the present time the countries in the world that will be impacted most in this area are as follows:

EU (European Union)




USA (States vary)

As examples, equipment shipping into Europe will need to comply with the presently in place WEEE and RoHS laws: which means that the company shipping in the products will have to register in the countries into which it is selling it’s products and will have to report numbers of units sold into each country for the purposes of end of life E-waste tracking. The equipment: unless there are exemptions in place for the class of product will have to comply with the legislated threshold levels set by the EU under RoHS laws.

Equipment shipping into China will have to comply with “China RoHS” but due to the delays in the Chinese government launching their catalog this at the present time varies from the EU and there are no currently published exemptions.

In Japan, there is no current legislation BUT you are unlikely to be able to sell equipment there unless it complies with the EU regulations which are contained within the Joint Industry Group (JIG) recommendations for Hazardous Substance threshold levels,; additionally it is important to realize that in Japan, there is a great emphasis on your corporate awareness of environmental responsibility, so be prepared to address this in the requirements coming out of the MRD unless an environmental policy is already in place at your company.

So, branching out from the MRD and the countries into which the product is going to be sold come many action points.

From the MRD we can add action points into virtually ALL project phases. These can be mainly for action by engineering teams, and the checklists for project managers will include at various project “phase gates” the following items as examples”

“Are all components RoHS compliant and is there compliance certification in place?” (EU)

“Are JIG breakdowns available for all components” (JAPAN)

“Is the product labeled for European WEEE compliance?”(EU)

“Is EU shipping information data system in place for the product?”EU WEEE)

“Is the product labeled for China RoHS compliance?”(CHINA)

“Has a sample of product been supplied to and passed testing by China MIL?”(CHINA)

“Are battery laws being complied with?” (ARGENTINA)

I think you probably get the picture: : .8-)

The ease (or otherwise) of environmental compliance is set at project phase zero, with action points for engineering teams and check points for project managers building out of the MRD requirements.

It is very important that the contents of the MRD have target market data available so that the project does not end up being “engineered twice”: because target markets were not identified at the outset…

I hope this has been useful, tomorrow we are going to take a look at what the design and component engineers have to look at to ensure product reliability and compliance and how the program manager can gate these activities through the project phases after phase zero.

Santa Clara CA, 11/13/07 email


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