Product Environmental Compliance: A Systems Solution

We’ve discussed some of Molex’s key drivers to compliance – some of the legislation and customer requirements pushing electronics to be more environmentally friendly.  Because of the diverse requirements, an efficient system to evaluate products is necessary.  Molex uses SAP for many of its functions, and decided to use SAP functionality for product environmental compliance as well.

This functionality was initially implemented in 2002, and has grown over time as the legislative and customer requirements have changed.  The system is available to virtually all Molex individuals in locations globally, has been configured to Molex requirements, and has been used to interface with other systems.

An important aspect of product environmental compliance is the documentation necessary to verify and assess compliance.  Molex requires all of its suppliers to provide certain pieces of documentation, which can be submitted in an electronic format that allows import directly into SAP.  This data links with Molex’s engineering data (Bill of Materials), and Molex is then able to view the data and assess compliance using SAP.

Once Molex has all of this data in one central location, we’re able to leverage this data in many different ways:

  1. Molex’s plastic-selection engineering database is linked directly to SAP.  This database not only allows engineers to select a plastic based on mechanical or electrical properties, but environmental properties are also taken into consideration.
  2. Data from SAP is output in various formats for Molex customers.  The single source of data ensures the same data is shared with each Molex customers.
  3. Molex’s website presents certain environmental characteristics about each product.  This allows Molex’s customers to know compliance status up-front and design-in compliant products.

Molex is also able to easily query its database to determine which products need to be redesigned when legislation or customer requirements change.  For example, if a substance is added to EU RoHS, Molex is able to quickly locate not only the parts that contain this substance, but also identify the purchased materials and components and determine vendors that supply these materials and components.

In summary, with these capabilities, Molex is able to:

  • Design products that meet legislative requirements
  • Display status and provide compliance documentation to customers
  • Identify products to redesign when legislation changes
  • Respond quickly to customer queries