Environmental Electronics – no time to learn from your mistakes!!

Unusual title I know – Saturday at last (and my last blog here)

I just spent the day shooting clays – my score is getting better every time I get out on the range and practice. One day I may actually be able to hit all of them – who knows.

The reason for the comparison is that compliance with the (legislated) rules of environmental electronics is no time to “learn as you go”. With my clay shooting the worst thing that is going to happen out on the range is that I blast away 200 shells on 100 “birds” and only hit a few of them. The cost is to my pride, plus a few tens of dollars to the clay range and the ammo department at Walmart. Not so with the environmental aspects of electronics – if only it were that simple..

Some aspects of dealing with environmental electronics law deal with compliance by way of elemental analysis. Other aspects are by way of making sure systems are in place to accurately report to many different country departments, the numbers of individual SKU’s shipped within into that country within a certain tiime frame.

Yet other aspects impact the manufacturing process windows of the product which can delay prototypes and worst case will impact the field reliability of the product. This can get very technical and involve design, manufacturing as well as quality and reliability engineering groups.

The objective from a programme management team is to ensure a crisp trouble free transition to a compliant product that will ship out on time (and not come back!!)

Now I know that you are thinking “easier siad than done” BUT…………one thing that I DO know is that it is unlikely that your engineering, quality and reliability teams – and perhaps your contract manufacturers have “years of experience” in implementing this kind of transition.

For this reason it is essential that the program Management team have a clear outline of the gating items for the project along with at least some understanding of the potential issues which can (and often do) occur.

This will enable the program manager to assess the potential risk factors involved in requests to “shortcut” some of the gating requirements as the program launch date looms large and the team is running in overdrive to hit the launch dates and overcome program issues at the “telescoped” project end gate before launch.

If you do not believe that your groups have the experience necessary to generate the appropriate gating check points to map into the PLC (project life cycle) gates – take my advice – as a team – contract in a consultant that DOES understand, and get them to (at least) map out the gating and check list items for you.

Without these tools in place you may as a team inadvertantly launch a product into the market place that will cause the corporation a great deal of pain financially (or wasted bandwith “churn”) either through litigation or reliability issues – simply because as a team you “didn’t know what you didn’t know”.

Have fun – e-mail me if you get stuck and I will attempt to find time to reply.

Be diligent – launching a product into an environmentally compliant marlet is not to be taken lightly. Do it right and you will be  sucessful, ignore the complexity of the issues or take shortcuts, and basically you may as well roll the dice…..

Santa Clara CA, 11/16/07 email john@RoHSUSA.com



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