February 20, 2006
RoHS and WEEE - EMA Design Automation
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Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor

by Jack Horgan - Contributing Editor
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It is frequently said that we live in a disposable society. It often costs less to replace something than to repair it even assuming that you could find someone to fix it, could locate the spare parts and could live without the item while it is being fixed. Electronic parts seem to be the worst offenders.. This is due in part to shrinking product lifecycles. New versions and even new generations (the iPod is on its 5th generation) come out every 6 to 12 months. The new products are faster, have more functions, more capacity, more content and in general better by every objective metric. Customers are drawn to these new versions even when the products they bought just a few months
earlier continue to operate as advertised. Telephone carriers offer existing users incentives to upgrade their phones every 12 or 24 months. When a customer gets a new phone, the old one is shut off. It becomes a backup if the new phone is lost, stolen or broken but otherwise it is useless.

Old electronic products gather dust in our basements, garages, and attics. Sooner or later they make their way to the trash dump or landfill creating a burden for municipalities to collect and process. More troubling is that these products contain hazardous materials. The water from acid rain dissolves lead and other hazardous materials from the electronic equipments, and the rainwater mixed with these materials can go straight to the water table and then to the drinking water.

The European Union has issued two directives to address these issues. Specifically

      RoHS (pronounced Ross or Rohas) - Restriction of Hazardous Substances.


      WEEE - Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment

Each country will enact legislation to define the actual requirements that the EEE producers must meet. Each country has its own laws, registration organizations, enforcement, compliance options, take-back options, language and fees. Most EU member countries have RoHS legislation in place.

The RoHs directive define the maximum concentration values (MCVs) for
Lead (Pb)

Cadmium (Cd)

Hexavalent Chromium (Cr6+)

Polybrominated Biphenyl (PBB)

Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether (PBDE)
The MCV for Cadmium is 0.01% and for the others it is 0.1%.

The limits are set not on the final product but rather on the “homogenous materials” contained therein. By homogenous material one means a material that cannot be mechanically disjointed into different materials by such actions as unscrewing,
cutting, crushing, grinding and abrasive processes. Examples of “homogenous materials” would be individual types of plastics, ceramics, glass, metals, alloys, paper, board, resins and coatings. A semiconductor component is not homogenous, as it is made up of many other homogenous materials such as the case (plastic moulding), the leadframe alloy and the leadframe coatings, etc., An electronic assembly with less than 0.1% lead by weight would be non-compliant if any components on it have solder plating that contains more than 0.1% by weight itself.

This RoHS legislation is effective July 1st, 2006 and from this date on products using these substances cannot be sold in Europe. There are exemptions if the elimination or substitution is technically impractical or if it would negatively impact health, safety or the environment. Many military and medical applications have exceptions.

There are several parallel efforts to the EU directives around the world

     China - Regulation for Pollution Control of Electronic Products (RPCEP)

     Japan - Japan Green Procurement Survey Standardization Initiative (JGPSSI)

     Joint Industry Group (JIG)

     California Electronic Waste Recycling Act of 2003 (SB20/50)

The purpose of the WEEE Directive is, as a first priority, the prevention of waste electrical and electronic equipment, and in addition, the reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery of such wastes so as to reduce the disposal of waste.

Basically the producer has an obligation to arrange and finance the collection, treatment, recycling and environmentally safe disposal of WEEE. The producer can do this alone or by joining a collective scheme. Users of electrical and electronic equipment from private households should have the possibility of returning WEEE at least free of charge. Each producer should, when placing a product on the market, provide a financial guarantee to prevent costs for the management of WEEE from orphan products from falling on society or the remaining producers. The responsibility for the financing of the management of historical waste should be shared by all existing producers in collective
financing schemes to which all producers, existing on the market when the costs occur, contribute proportionately.

The directive also spells out requirements for reporting data to authorities, to recyclers and consumers. For example as of August 2005 products will need to be marked with the wheelie bin symbol.
WEEE covers 10 categories of products that are listed below:

Large Household Appliances
Electric and electronic tools
Small Household Appliances
Toys, leisure and sports equipment
IT and Telecommunication Equipment
Medical Devices
Consumer Equipment
Monitoring and control instruments
Lighting equipment
Automatic dispensers

A company that has become very much involved with RoHS compliance issues is EMA Design Automation of Rochester, NY. I had an opportunity to interview Manny Marcano, their President and CEO.

Tell me a bit about EMA Design Automation.

We have been doing VAR business for the better part of 15 years. We've sold for most of the EDA companies out there. But we've been doing Cadence since 1998. We started selling the traditional tools and rolled into OrCAD in 1999 when Cadence acquired OrCAD. Now we are the solution provider in North America for all their PCB tools.

Does this mean that you are a Master VAR/Distributor?

Officially we are the only VAR. We are it for all of North America. We are the sole distribution channel for Cadence in NA.

How many offices do you have?

We've got one primary office here in Rochester, NY. We have 60 plus people there and forty plus people in home offices scattered about the country.

Does Cadence have a similar sales model in Europe and Asia?

They do. They have some senior and experienced VARs running in some cases a country or multiple countries. Unlike some EDA vendors, they do not have any competing VARs in the same territory. They are very loyal to the VAR channel.

What is the biggest challenge for your operation?

Keeping up with the growth opportunities!

How do you attempt to do that?

We have found RoHS to be a compelling event that is driving opportunities in services as well as pulling software sales. That's the real growth. Although the PCB market is in essence not growing, we are finding our ability to displace competitors because of what we are doing in RoHS. That's where the growth is.

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-- Jack Horgan, EDACafe.com Contributing Editor.


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