Prepare now for RoHS 2

Posted on 26 Aug 2011 by The Manufacturer

Manufacturers need to become compliant with the second phase of European regulations on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances, including some who may not expect the regulations to be relevant to their business. Jenni Morland, european business manager at TR Fastenings explains the devolpments.

TR Fastenings is a Sussex-based manufacturer and distributor of industrial fastenings. Key products include; rivet bushes, self clinch fasteners, screws for plastic, blind rivet nuts, self locking nuts and security fasteners.

TR Fastenings supplies over 150 million components every day to over 5000 customers in sectors including audio, petrochemical, marine, construction, aerospace and defence and automotive.

The European Commission formally adopted extensions to the Restriction on Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive in May this year. The result is that many more electronic devices will be impacted by the strict new regulations with regards to the use of heavy metals and dangerous chemicals.

EU Member States now have less than 18 months to introduce the revised directive ‘RoHS 2’ into their national law. This will lead to a phase out list of banned substances over the next 8 years. For manufacturers operating in the EU becoming compliant will take time. Preparation needs to start now.

The original RoHS regulation was introduced in 2003, setting the global electronics sector high targets for a gradual phase out of hazardous substances such as lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl (PBD).

A key revision to the legislation is the wider scope of products that it now affects. The original RoHS legislation applied to products whereby the primary function was electronic. RoHS 2 now states that products with any ‘intended’ electronic function need to comply, thus affecting a wide range of manufacturers outside the electronics sector.

This may take many by surprise. While the traditional electronics sector is aware of its need to comply with RoHS 2 and has been waiting for the publication of the new revision, manufacturers within other market sectors may be unaware of the regulation and the design and manufacture changes that it requires. An example would be furniture manufacturers with motorised reclining chairs in their product range who will now need to comply with RoHS 2.

Another important change to the legislation requires all products falling under the RoHS 2 requirements to have a CE marking indicating that the product complies with the rules. To achieve this the supply chain is now required to risk-assess the process behind the product.

TR Fastenings is compliant with the original RoHS and our customers can be confident that their products meet legislative requirements. However, we need to do more, and have initiated a process of actively partnering with our suppliers and customers to ensure we are able to supply products that meet the requirements of RoHS 2 in the timescales set for introduction of the legislation.

The key to this is to provide our customers with a detailed risk assessment that reassures them that our products meet the standard.

One of the main reasons for the introduction of RoHS 2 regulation is that recent surveys have uncovered that approximately 20% of products affected by the original regulations are still not RoHS compliant. As a result, RoHS 2 heralds a harder stance, with the EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potoènik stating that it will be unacceptable for manufacturers not to comply with the new regulation.

It is therefore vital for manufacturers to prepare now and to review their products to ensure they are compliant.