U.S. firm establishes RoHS-compliant manufacturing in China


Downers Grove, ILContemporary Controls manufacturing facility in Suzhou, China, has transitioned to lead-free operation to meet the European Union’s (EU) Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive. The directive, which goes into effect July 1, 2006, limits the amount of lead in electronic equipment manufactured or sold in EU-member countries. China is expected to soon release its own legislation similar to RoHS.

Changes in material and processes eliminate lead in the company’s products well ahead of the regulation’s effective date. Changeover began with the plant identifying, labeling, and segregating leaded and unleaded compounds, explains plant manager Basile Waite, adding the company took steps to assure customers that the modifications did not affect product quality.

“Our manufacturing personnel received skilled training on all new equipment and procedures,” said Waite. The surface mount technology (SMT) line conversion involved adjusting the stencil printer and adjusting reflow profiles for lead-free solder paste for every product, he noted.

New flexible assembly systems were also installed. The line, said Waite, “is 10 m in length, double-sided, and features a conveyor belt down the middle. For our plated through hole (PTH) line, we added entry and exit conveyors as well as changed out the solder pot.” The systems will allow batches of 100 or 1000 without any machine set-up changes. Solder-wave conversion included refitting pumps and changing solder pot to titanium pot with tin silver copper (SAC) allow solder. Rework stations were refit for lead-free production.

The 16,000 sq ft facility is located in the Suzhou New District at the center of the Yangtze River Delta. SND is among the fastest-growing economies in China and is said to be guiding the way for technological innovation. Contemporary Controls manufactures industrial Ethernet, Arcnet, and CAN/DeviceNet products to help meet China’s demand for automation equipment.

To review the company’s RoHS compliant product roadmap, click here .

—Control Engineering Daily News Desk
Jeanine Katzel, senior editor, jkatzel@reedbusiness.com

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