Electronics Production | January 26, 2006

IPC Introduces RoHS Lead Free Certification Program

To aid the electronics assembly industry in its drive to lead free implementation, the IPC has created “IPC Certification for RoHS Lead Free Electronics Assembly Process Capability Program.”
This in-depth audit program will examine electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies and original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to ensure that facilities are capable of producing product to meet the lead free requirements of the RoHS directive.

The program consists of 15 technical categories covering assembly-related issues such as equipment capability and compatibility, employee training, materials compatibility, component handling, materials declaration, and documentation procedures. The audit itself will consist of over 300 questions plus an on-site review by an IPC trained auditor. By passing both the written and on-site audits, companies will confirm their lead free process capability.

“Companies will not receive a rubber stamp certification; this is an in-depth program that requires an exhaustive and thorough audit of one's processes,” commented John Kania, director of IPC industry programs.

The program was developed by content experts with significant experience in RoHS lead free electronics assembly process implementation. A Blue Ribbon committee representing various IPC member companies (EMS, OEM and suppliers) reviewed and revised the program. The committee included industry companies and several tier one leaders: AIM; Apsco; Celestica Inc.; Cookson Electronics; Fawn Industries; Flextronics International; GE Healthcare; Hewlett-Packard; Jabil Circuit; Kester; Plexus Corp.; Raven Industries; Solectron Corporation; and Vitronics Soltec.

Solectron in Charlotte, NC, and Raven Industries, Sioux Falls, ND, agreed to be beta sites for the first audits, which will take place in February.

“The reason I volunteered for the beta site testing was because I think it is important the industry communicate to its customers that we understand lead free. From my point of view, being IPC certified is a critical aspect in dealing with my customers because it says that I have done due diligence in trying to meet their needs,” commented David Bair, Raven's Vice President and General Manager of Electronic Systems.

“The industry still has much to discover about lead free,” said Jenny Porter, site lead free ROHS coordinator at Solectron Charlotte. “We are excited to be a part of this program to help the industry determine the correct path.”

“Establishing lead free processes will involve more then just using lead free solder. It will impact about every area of assembly operations. The program is not designed to – and cannot- insure companies will produce lead free RoHS compliant products. However, the certification audit is an excellent way for a company to validate for their customers and suppliers their RoHS lead free readiness,” commented Kania.

According to Kania IPC is the perfect organization to develop and conduct the audit program, “IPC has been conducting certifications for the past two decades. In that time, nearly a quarter of a million people have been certified or recertified under IPC certification programs.”


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