Hazards under control
IECQ certification for green and reliable electronic components
In issue after issue of e-tech, we see that electronic components play an ever increasing role in our lives. At home, at work, on the road, in the air, whatever we do, wherever we are, we rely on electronics to make our lives easier, to provide better communication and operate in a world that has become global and interconnected.
Can't do without them
This issue makes no exception. Several articles address the topic of storage, be it EES (electrical energy storage) or data storage.
EES has existed for a long time but the emergence of alternative energy sources and numerous Smart Grid initiatives, as well as the need to better monitor and control electricity supply and demand have put the EES issue and technologies in the spotlight.
The same goes for cloud computing. Storing and processing data in the cloud, rendering it accessible anywhere and everywhere is an extremely attractive proposition.
All this is only possible because of electronic components. And the more we depend on them, the more we need them to be reliable. Whether the tasks they are used to perform are simple or extremely complex makes no difference.
Eliminating hazardous substances
But reliability is not all. In recent years the demand for "green" electronic components has soared. In good measure that is due to legislation passed at national or regional level to restrict and ultimately prohibit the use of hazardous substances in the manufacture of these components. Such substances – cadmium, lead and mercury in particular – are likely to be dangerous for the workers manufacturing the components as well as for the end-users.
An additional problem comes at the end of the product life cycle: how to deal with waste. Manufacturers are under great pressure to produce "clean" products in order to comply with legislation restricting the use of hazardous substances in electronic products and components. The pressure is even greater as the life cycle of electronic components becomes ever shorter.
Australia, China, Norway, South Korea, Switzerland, Thailand and the American state of California are among those that have passed, or are considering, legislation limiting the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic products. The EU (European Union) RoHS (Restrictions of Hazardous Substances) in electrical and electronic equipment and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directives took effect in July 2006, and a revision of those directives is currently under consideration.
High quality electronic components for all purposes
How can manufacturers and suppliers make sure the electronic components they use are safe, reliable and free of hazardous substances? The answer is simple: IECQ
IECQ, IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components, is a worldwide approval and certification system that covers electronic components and related materials and processes, providing a business-to-business supply chain management system. It uses quality assessment specifications based on International Standards prepared by the IEC.
IECQ provides certification at the international level for a wide variety of electronic components. At present, eight families of components are covered by IECQ:
- active components, including integrated circuits
- electromagnetic components
- electromechanical components
- electro-optic components
- hybrid integrated circuits
- passive components
- printed boards
- wires and cables
IECQ offers a modular approach to its certification schemes to cover electronic components and related processes, for example IECQ HSPM (Hazardous Substance Process Management).
The IECQ HSPM is a technically-based management systems approach to implementing and maintaining hazardous substance-free products and production processes. IECQ HSPM was developed in response to component manufacturers' need for giving suppliers the means to demonstrate, through third-party assessment, that their electrical and electronic components and assemblies meet specific hazardous substance-free local, national and international requirements.
IECQ HSPM Certification provides worldwide confidence that companies operate systems that comply with the IECQ Specification, QC 080000. IECQ QC 080000 sets out in detail, the management and technical requirements to be undertaken by IECQ HSPM certified companies that provides the market with the confidence in the control of hazardous substances.
IECQ QC 080000 is not new. In fact, during the very recent annual meeting of the IECQ Management Committee, in Busan, Korea, the new edition 3 of IECQ QC 080000 was finalized, with publication being imminent.