The International Electronics Manufacturing Initiative (iNEMI), an industry-led consortium, has announced that the majority of its OEM and EMS members strongly support the use of unique part numbers for RoHS-compliant components.

The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, or RoHS, became European Law in February 2003. Together with the Directive on Waste Electronic and Electric Equipment (WEEE) which is setting collection, recycling and recovery targets for all types of electrical goods it is part of a legislative initiative to solve the problem of huge amounts of toxic waste.

In a statement, the consortium said that demonstrating and certifying compliance with RoHS is a complex undertaking made more difficult by the electronics industry’s distributed design and manufacturing supply chains and the incompatibility between the current tin-lead (SnPb) and RoHS-compliant lead-free manufacturing processes.

Industry must have means of differentiating RoHS-compliant products that is common across all of the companies involved in, or contributing to, product manufacture, including component suppliers, component distributors, EMS providers, OEMs and their design partners.

The members of iNEMI say that they’re convinced that the only practical way to accomplish this goal is through separate part numbers that can clearly identify RoHS compliance and manufacturing process compatibility.

iNEMI members supporting the position include: Alcatel, Celestica, Cray, Dell, Delphi, HP, Intel, Jabil Circuit, Lucent Technologies, Microsoft, Plexus, Sanmina-SCI, Solectron, StorageTek and Sun Microsystems.

“Many of our members feel very strongly about this issue, and they came to us, asking that iNEMI issue a position statement to go on record as supporting separate part numbers,” said Jim McElroy, executive director and CEO of iNEMI.

“They are rightfully concerned about being able to keep compliant and non-compliant parts separate. This is a concern in manufacturing, during rework, with field returns and even at end of life. The new regulations require that manufacturers know exactly what is in their products, and they need a way to not only track but also to prove that their products do not contain lead, cadmium or any of the other RoHS substances over the specified limits. Separate part numbers will go a long way toward helping them make those assurances.”

“Celestica is a strong supporter of the introduction of new part numbers for RoHS-compliant components,” said Dan Shea, chief technology officer, Celestica. “By assigning unique part numbers for compliant parts, global suppliers would greatly support proper component segregation and handling – driving a smoother transition to RoHS compliance for the electronics industry as a whole.”

According to Vivek Gupta, program manager for Intel’s Assembly Technology Division, “Intel Corporation requires its suppliers to change part numbers when they transition to RoHS-compliant parts and follow the established change control process. In addition, suppliers are expected to mark their RoHS-compliant products per established JEDEC/IPC standards and implement controls to prevent mixing of RoHS-compliant parts.”

“It is our sentiment in Sanmina-SCI, that supply base part number change is mandatory in order to ensure effective transitioning and segregation of components and materials as we collectively migrate into the RoHS-compliant world,” said Mike Shannon, senior vice president, RoHS/WEEE compliance, Sanmina-SCI.

Perry Mulligan, senior vice president, supply, management and chief procurement officer for Solectron said that Solectron “fully supports iNEMI’s position on part numbering.” He added: “For most commodities, Solectron's position is that the most accurate and reliable way to manage the supply chain during the transition to RoHS compliancy is through a change in the manufacturer's part number (MPN).”

"Going forward, it is critical for all manufacturers of enterprise computing solutions to comply with the new regulations and, hence, each of us needs to know exactly what is in our products," stated Sunny Cheng, vice president of operations for Sun Microsystems. "Like many in our industry, Sun Microsystems is fully behind iNEMI's position."