Short life cycle and sustainability
While thriving, the electronics sector is facing many challenges. Product life cycle is one of them. With quickly changing consumer tastes, companies have to innovate, produce and market new products at increasingly shorter intervals to satisfy demand. Consumer loyalty is another factor to take into consideration in this extremely competitive market.
The emergence of strict regulations and standards to limit or eliminate the use of hazardous substances in the product components also have to be taken into account. This has an impact of the complete life cycle, from environmentally conscious design to manufacture to retail and disposal. E-waste has become a major issue and companies may in future have to meet even stricter regulations concerning eco-design.
A global solution for global supply chains
Products today are “made in the world”. This is true for all industry sectors. Rare are those that can affirm that their output is manufactured locally. There are multiple supply chains whose components and subcomponents may travel through more than one continent before they’re assembled and the end product is rolled out, hits store shelves and reaches consumers. Issues such as traceability and compliance have to be factored in.
Technological advances in the electronics sector would be non-existent without electronic components. Those are often classified into three main categories: active, passive and electromechanical.
Active components rely on a source of energy (DC) and inject power into a circuit. In recent years, technological advances have greatly enhanced their use in an ever growing number of applications. They include, among others, semiconductor and display devices. Semiconductors comprise diodes, transistors, integrated circuits and optoelectronic components.
Passive components are electrical components that do not generate power, but instead dissipate, store, and/or release it. Among them are capacitors, resistors and inductors. In most circuits, they are connected to active elements, typically semiconductor devices.
Electromechanical components, such as connectors, relays, fuses, switches, microphones, or wires and cables, use an electrical current to create a magnetic field which causes a physical movement.
One type of electronic component in particular plays a major role today: sensors. These can be active or passive. Active sensors require an external source of power to operate while passive sensors simply detect and respond to some type of input from the physical environment. They come in many shapes and forms: vision, flow, fibre optic, gas, motion, image, colour, light, pressure, infrared, photoelectric and so on.
Sensors and sensor systems are a key underpinning technology for a wide range of applications. They can be used to improve quality control and productivity in manufacturing processes by monitoring variables such as temperature, pressure, flow and composition. They help ensure the environment is clean and healthy by monitoring the levels of toxic chemicals and gases emitted in the air, both locally and – via satellites – globally. They monitor area and regional compliance with environmental standards. They enhance health, safety and security in the home and workplace through their use in air-conditioning systems, fire and smoke detection and surveillance equipment. They play a major role in medical devices, transportation, entertainment equipment and everyday consumer products.
Electronic components may come in many shapes and sizes but they have commonalities. They need to be accurate, reliable and high quality. Defective components can have serious consequences for humans and their environment. They also have to meet the requirements of national or regional regulations concerning hazardous substances.
Manufacturers and suppliers of all types of electronic components throughout the world have a powerful tool at their disposal, enabling their products to meet the strictest requirements: IECQ testing and certification. IECQ is the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components.
As the worldwide approval and certification system covering the supply of electronic components, assemblies and associated materials and processes, IECQ tests and certifies components using quality assessment specifications based on IEC International Standards.
In addition, there are a multitude of related materials and processes that are covered by the IECQ schemes. IECQ certificates are used worldwide as a tool to monitor and control the manufacturing supply chain, thus helping to reduce costs and time to market, and eliminating the need for multiple re-assessments of suppliers.
IECQ provides manufacturers with independent verification that IEC International Standards and other specifications were met by suppliers who hold an IECQ certification.
The conformity assessment system provides the following core certification schemes and programmes which serve as an effective supply chain management tool for industry in verifying compliance with component specifications and standards:
IECQ contribution to a safer and more reliable world can only increase with the development of new technologies and state-of-the-art electronic devices.
More information on IECQ: www.iecq.org