RoHS Compliance

RoHS Compliance - Including “RoHS Recast”

What is RoHS

The RoHS Directive stands for "the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment". This Directive bans the placing on the EU market of new electrical and electronic equipment containing more than the agreed levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyl (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ether (PBDE) flame retardants. Manufacturers need to understand the requirements of the RoHS Directive to ensure that their products, and their components, comply.

European Directive 2002/95/EC of January 2003 required that a number of substances, including lead, cadmium, hexavalent chromium and some bromine-based flame retardants must be effectively eliminated from a range of electrical and electronic products by July 2006. The directive was recast as 2011/65/EU in June 2011, which has resulted in some changes in important details, although the list of substances is unchanged. The recast version will come into effect in member states during 2012.

The following categories of electrical equipment are outside the scope of  RoHS, including the recast version:

  • Fixed installations
  • Large-scale stationary industrial tools

Industrial monitoring and control instruments, which were outside the scope of the original directive, are covered by the recast version, probably beginning in 2017.

Control Techniques’ strategy

Control Techniques’ manufacturing plant is approved to the environmental standard ISO 14001, which includes an assessment of the environmental impact of its products. Known hazardous substances are avoided wherever practicable. For example, all major plastic parts use flame retardants which are free of halogens.

The main practical issue facing the electrical equipment manufacturer in relation to RoHS is the use of a lead-free solder process. Solder containing lead has been used successfully in the electronics industry for many years and there is a strong base of knowledge and understanding which ensures that it is used reliably. When the original RoHS legislation came into force there was a lack of experience in using lead-free solder in modern volume production processes. Since that time wide experience has been gained by material suppliers and manufacturers, so that the process can now be considered mature. One outcome of that experience is that existing products using lead-tin solder cannot  readily be changed to lead-free without considerable attention to design details, so that generally a new product design is required.

The position of variable speed drives under RoHS is not clear-cut because it depends upon their end use once they have been incorporated into an item of equipment, machine, building or installation.  In many cases RoHS does not apply. However since 2006 Control Techniques has been carrying out trials and phasing in products using the lead-free solder process. The necessary measures have been taken to ensure the reliability of products using lead-free solder. All major products will be lead-free and therefore fully RoHS compliant before 2017 which is the present best estimate of the implementation data for industrial equipment. This does not preclude the continuing supply of legacy products which are not lead-free, as spare parts and for use in equipment which is outside the scope of RoHS.

Control Techniques Ltd
5 October 2011