IPC Publishes Conflict Minerals Due Diligence White Paper

Despite two years of reporting under the Dodd-Frank Act, conflict minerals reporting is still burdensome for a number of companies.

While it won’t solve all reporting problems, the recently published IPC-1081, Conflict Minerals Due Diligence White Paper can help. Developed and published by IPC’s E-30 Conflict Minerals Due Diligence Committee, the White Paper provides the electronics industry with practical examples for developing a conflict minerals compliance program within a company.

The IPC White Paper includes information on where tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold are used in electronics and also includes conflict minerals policy statements and goes into detail on engaging suppliers by providing tools and techniques. These tools and techniques will help companies establish and sustain a working relationship with suppliers resulting in an effective conflict minerals program.

Though IPC WP-1081 does not establish mandatory practices, it was developed to be consistent with the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Due Diligence Guidance, which is referenced in Dodd-Frank and the draft European Union conflict minerals regulations.

IPC WP-1081 is available for download at www.ipc.org/1081. For additional information, contact Fern Abrams, IPC director of regulatory affairs and government relations, at FernAbrams@ipc.org.

Court Backs Companies’ Free Speech Over Conflict Minerals

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit declared on August 18 that the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) cannot force public companies to declare whether their products may contain “conflict minerals.”

The 2-1 ruling by the Court of Appeals upheld their April 2014 finding that stayed part of the reporting requirements because they violate free speech.  The ruling still largely upholds the majority of the SEC’s conflict minerals rules, which went into effect last year. Companies still must conduct due diligence to try and track the origins of minerals including tantalum, tin, gold or tungsten and file reports to the SEC with their findings, but they are not required to state whether or not the products are deemed “conflict free.”

The decision on Tuesday was the second time that the three-judge panel has reviewed the regulator’s conflict minerals rule. The panel issued the same findings In April 2014, but the SEC asked for a re-hearing, after the U.S. appeals court later upheld another federal regulation requiring companies to label the origins of meat. In Tuesday’s ruling, the court found that the meat labeling case is distinct from the conflict minerals rule. The court also questioned whether the SEC’s rule would truly help diminish the humanitarian crisis, saying such an impact is “entirely unproven and rests on pure speculation.”

An SEC spokeswoman said the agency is reviewing the decision. The agency still has the right to appeal yesterday’s ruling.

 

IPC-4101D-WAM1 Brings Significant Changes and Clarifications

If you need the most current specifications for PCB materials used in rigid or multilayered printed boards, then it is time to upgrade to IPC-4101D-WAM1. This newly revised standard brings critical updates to the already valuable IPC-4101D, Specification for Base Materials for Rigid and Multilayer Printed Boards.

Why wait? Upgrade to the IPC-4101D-WAM1 today!

IPC-4101D-WAM1 delivers key updates for board designers, specifiers of board materials, and OEM’s who use and keep boards current with base materials used in PCBs. This revision:

  • covers requirements for laminate or prepreg base materials used primarily for rigid and multilayer printed boards for electrical and electronic circuits
  • contains 64 individual, keyword searchable specification sheets, including a brand new sheet that expands offerings for commercially available laminates and prepregs
  • clarifies what is stated in the original release of IPC-4101D for the FR-4.0 materials as “None” for inorganic filler content, now states “<5%” is allowed
  • adds table 3-10, Permissible Laminate Substitutions for Specification Sheets /21, /24, /26 and /30

This revision brings significant changes and clarifications. Learn more about how these updates can benefit you.

Upgrade to IPC-4101D-WAM1 today!

Congressman Sam Johnson Tours Creation Technologies in Texas

Visit Co-Hosted by IPC as Part of Effort to Connect Electronics Manufacturers with Policymakers

Congressman Sam Johnson (R-TX-3) met with executives and employees of IPC-member company Creation Technologies at the company’s manufacturing facility in Plano, Texas on August 13. Coordinated by IPC, the world’s leading association for electronics manufacturing companies, this visit is part of a nationwide effort to educate policymakers about legislative and regulatory issues that affect the electronics manufacturing industry.

“I am grateful to Creation Technologies and IPC for hosting me at today’s tour,” said Rep. Johnson. “It is great to get the opportunity to see, firsthand, the contributions of the high-tech manufacturing industry to Texas’s economy. Plano is lucky to have such a great company in our own backyard – and with Texas being ranked the #1 state to do business, it’s easy to see why they came here! Washington should take a cue from Texas and Creation Technologies!”

With facilities across the United States, Canada, Mexico, and China, Creation Technologies has decades of experience designing, manufacturing, and providing customized supply chain solutions to original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) around the world. The company’s Plano facility General Manager, Scott D. Hitt, hosted the site visit and led discussions on issues including fostering innovation, emerging markets, and regulatory compliance.

“On behalf of both Creation Technologies and IPC, I want to thank Congressman Johnson for taking the time to visit our manufacturing facilities today,” said Hitt. “We appreciate his interest in learning directly from people on the front lines of our industry to learn how we make our customers successful. We are eager to keep working with him, and with IPC, to find new and exciting ways to stimulate economic growth and innovation in North Texas.”

Rep. Johnson’s visit was part of IPC’s “Meet the Policymakers” program, through which IPC government relations staff arrange opportunities for IPC member-companies to host elected officials at company locations. This is the second visit in 2015 by a Member of Congress to Creation Technologies’ facilities. On April 8, U.S. Rep. Tim Walz (D-MN-1) visited Creation Technologies’ facility in St. Peter, Minnesota.

IPC member companies interested in hosting a legislator should contact IPC Vice President of Government Relations John Hasselmann at JohnHasselmann@ipc.org.

U.S. Department of Labor Proposes New Wage and Overtime Regulations

On June 30, the Department of Labor (DOL) proposed new wage and overtime regulations under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and is seeking comments by September 4, 2015.

DOL proposes to raise the salary threshold for an employee to be exempt from minimum wage and overtime pay to be equal to the 40th percentile of earnings for all full-time salaried workers in the United States. In 2015, this would equate to $970 per week, or $50,440 annually. Under the current regulations, an executive, administrative, or professional employee must be paid at least $455 per week ($23,660 per year) in order to qualify for the exemption.

The Department is also proposing to include a mechanism to automatically update the salary and compensation thresholds on an annual basis using either a fixed percentile of wages or the Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers (CPI-U).

In the proposed rule, DOL also asks whether revisions to the “duties tests” are necessary in order to ensure that these tests fully reflect the purpose of the exemption.

On July 23, the U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Workforce Protections held a hearing on the proposed rule.  Issues raised during the hearing include a number of the concerns raised by IPC members (discussed below).

Industry Concerns

IPC Government Relations (GR) committee members highlighted the following concerns:

  • The proposed threshold is too high for entry level purchasing, manufacturing, and engineering
  • The salary threshold may be inappropriate for rural, southern, and low cost of living areas.
  • The proposed threshold would raise costs and is a direct formula for exporting work to lower cost of living countries

 

Background

On March 13, 2014, President Obama signed a Presidential Memorandum directing the DOL to update the regulations specify which workers are exempted from the FLSA’s minimum wage and overtime regulation.

Since 1940, the regulations implementing exemption for  executive and professional (EAP)  or “white collar” workers have required each of three tests to be met for the exemption to apply: (1) The employee must be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction because of variations in the quality or quantity of work performed (the  “salary basis test”); (2) the amount of salary paid must meet a minimum specified amount (the “salary level test”); and (3) the employee’s job duties must primarily involve executive, administrative, or professional duties as defined by the regulations (the “duties test”).

DOL believes that regularly updating the salary and compensation levels is the best method to ensure that these tests continue to provide an effective means of distinguishing between overtime-eligible employees and those who may be bona fide executive and professional (EAP) employees. DOL does not make specific proposals to modify the standard duties tests, but is seeking comments on whether the tests are working as intended to screen out employees who are not bona fide EAP employees.  In particular, the DOL is concerned that, in some instances, the current tests may allow exemption of employees who are performing such a disproportionate amount of nonexempt work.

Action and Next Steps

IPC has joined the Partnership to Protect Workplace Opportunity, a broad coalition of concerned parties with very similar concerns to those expressed by IPC members.   IPC may sign on to the partnership’s comments, or draft our own if our concerns differ significantly.

The partnership has requested an extension of the September 4 comment deadline in order to allow more robust data collection and time to review of the proposed rule.

Several coalition members testified at the July 23, 2015 Congressional hearing, and the partnership also submitted a statement for the record.  The partnership will be launching a grassroots campaign shortly; IPC members may wish to participate in addition to submitting comments.

IPC members with questions, comments, or an interest in reviewing the draft comments, should contact Fern Abrams, IPC director of regulatory affairs and government relations.

Take Action Now to Stop Costly EU Conflict Minerals Directive

In May, the EU Parliament (EP) overwhelmingly passed regulations requiring the mandatory certification and reporting of conflict minerals throughout the supply chain. Under the proposed regulation, EU importers of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold would need to be certified by the EU to ensure that they do not fuel conflicts and human rights abuses in conflict areas anywhere in the world.

In addition, all EU companies that use tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold in their products, will be required to conduct costly and cumbersome measures to identify any risks that these metals in their supply chains came from conflict areas. Details regarding your efforts would need to be made public.

What You Can Do

As you know, all politics is local. IPC is currently reaching out to members in the EU to encourage them to contact their country’s representative to the European Council regarding the proposed regulations.

You can help IPC by reaching out to your EU-based suppliers, colleagues, and customers to encourage them to add their voices. IPC has developed a template letter and has translated it into Dutch, English, French, German, Italian, Polish and Swedish. Please contact Fern Abrams, IPC Director of Regulatory Affairs and Government Relations at FernAbrams@ipc.org for the file.

IPC Recognizes Bipartisan Leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives for Passing the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2576)

Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 398 to 1 (with 36 not voting) to approve H.R. 2576, the TSCA Modernization Act of 2015. This bill provides an overhaul to the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) law, which has not been updated in decades. The bill is intended to help move the nation toward a strong, cost-effective, science-based federal chemical regulation while modernizing U.S. chemical safety laws. Additionally, the bill contains measures aimed at ensuring more uniform national regulations on chemicals, which is important to IPC members who manufacture for the global electronics marketplace.

IPC commends the bipartisan leadership of House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Ranking Member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), as well as subcommittee Chairman John Shimkus (R-Ill.) and Ranking Member Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.).

IPC also appreciates Reps. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) and Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) for their efforts to reform the current TSCA reporting requirements that create an incentive to landfill byproducts rich in valuable minerals, rather than recycle them.  Although not addressed in the bill text, the accompanying committee report does reference the concerns IPC and others raised with reporting requirements and notes that EPA has the statutory authority to address those concerns.

IPC’s consistent engagement throughout this process (e.g. IMPACT 2015, committee testimony, coalition efforts, and engagement with senior congressional policymakers) was critical in the inclusion of this language.  IPC will continue working with members of Congress and EPA to achieve a balanced resolution of this issue.

The companion Senate bill on TSCA reform, S. 675, the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act was approved by strong bipartisan vote (15 -5) by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee earlier this spring and  is expected to be brought to the floor by the end of the summer.

IPC Releases T-50 Revision M, Terms and Definitions for Interconnecting and Packaging Electronic Circuits

IPC has released IPC-T-50 Revision M, Terms and Definitions for Interconnecting and Packaging Electronic Circuits. This ever evolving standard provides common language of terms and definitions for the electronics industry.

Each year, terms and definitions become relevant in the electronics industry and in the manufacturing process. To meet these needs, IPC-T-50 Revision M, Terms and Definitions for Interconnecting and Packaging Electronic Circuits,delivers users the most up-to-date descriptions and illustrations of electronic interconnect industry terminology.

IPC-T-50M brings more than 150 new and revised terms, while also eliminating out-of-date terminology in order to provide a streamlined standard that focuses on the trending language of the electronics industry. Specifically, this revision includes terms often cited in other standards, such as; conformal coating, statistical process control, and stencil design.

“Our goal is to update the IPC-T-50 standard as often as possible with significant terms and technology. We want to keep the document relevant in today’s rapidly changing industry,” said John Perry, IPC director of printed board standards and technology. “To accomplish this, we solicited input from subject matter experts within the electronic industry who worked on standards, such as the IPC-6012C, Qualification and Performance Specification for Rigid Printed Boards, the IPC-6013C, Qualification and Performance Specification for Flexible Printed Boards, the IPC-HDBK-830, Guidelines for Design, Selection and Application of Conformal Coatings handbook, and the recent IPC-HDBK-850, Guidelines for design, Selection and Application of Potting Materials and Encapsulation Processes Used for Electronics Printed Circuit Board Assembly handbook.”

Stay up to date with the trending terms covering the newest emerging technologies. Learn more information about
T-50M.

Emerging and Critical Environmental Product Requirements Conference Tour a Big Hit

Last week, IPC and ITI hosted three conferences on Emerging and Critical Environmental Product Requirements.  The conferences were held in three locales nationwide in order to facilitate member attendance: Ft. Lee, N.J.; Des Plaines, Ill.; and Milpitas, Calif. Additionally, a kickoff luncheon for member representatives in Washington, D.C. featured conference keynote speakers Steve Andrews of the U.K. Department of Business, Innovation and Skills and Dave Symons of the U.K. National Measurement and Regulatory Office.

At each of the three conferences, Andrews and Symons provided updates on changes to the RoHS, WEEE, and Battery and Eco-design Directives, as well as an overview of UK implementation and enforcement of these Directives.  Awa He, of SGS-CSTC Standards Technical Services Co., Ltd. In Guanzho, China provided an overview of China regulations for electronics, including China RoHS, WEEE and labelling requirements.  At each location, a supply chain panel discussion rounded out the day, giving attendees the opportunity to discuss their knowledge and express any concerns.  Attendee feedback from the first two conferences showed a desire for more information on REACH, so a presentation by Mike Kirshner of Design Chain Associates was added to the California event.

More than two hundred representatives of the electronics industry attended the conferences, which were described by attendees as, “an extremely informative conference,” “productive,” and “vast expertise, informative, professionally run.”

Be sure to take a look at the IPC calendar for upcoming events and opportunities to meet others from the electronics industry. On October 13, IPC will host a conference on government regulation in Essen, Germany. Updates on conflict minerals legislation, the RoHS Directive and other supply chain issues will be provided. For additional information on this conference, contact John Hasselmann, IPC vice president of government relations at JohnHasselmann@ipc.org.

IPC Standards Committee Reports — Data Generation and Transfer, Supplier Declaration, Electronic Documentation, EHS, Management, Intellectual Property

These standards committee reports from IPC APEX EXPO 2015 have been compiled to help keep you up to date on IPC standards committee activities. This is the fourth and final in the series of reports.

Data Generation and Transfer

The 2-16 Product Data Description (Laminar View) Subcommittee continued discussion of potential new requirements and possible changes to IPC-2581B, Generic Requirements for Printed Board Assembly Products Manufacturing Description Data and Transfer Methodology. The group continues to work on development of user guides that show designers how to implement 2581 concepts in their transfer between design and manufacturing.

Supplier Declaration

The 2-18 Supplier Declaration Subcommittee did not meet due to conflicts in the chair’s schedule.

The 2-18b Materials Declaration Task Group discussed further enhancements to IPC-1752A Materials Declaration Management. The task group continues to work in concert with the IEC 62474 Materials Declaration Standards Group to ensure harmonization of the standards. The task group is in the process of organizing the annual solution provider review.

The 2-18j Laboratory Declaration Task Group is now looking at the next revisions of IPC-1753, Laboratory Report Declaration Standard. The standard allows for laboratory data to be seamlessly exchanged among supply chain partners.

Electronic Documentation Technology

The 2-40 Electronic Documentation Technology Committee and 2-41 Product Data Description Subcommittee discussed the IPC-261X series. Discussion included modifications to IPC-2611, Generic Requirements for Electronic Product Documentation, IPC-2612, Sectional Requirements for Electronic Diagramming Documentation and IPC-2612-1, Sectional Requirements for Electronic Diagramming Symbol Generation Methodology, as well as IPC-2614, Sectional Requirements for Board Fabrication Documentation.

Environment, Health, and Safety

The 4-30 Environmental, Health, and Safety Committee heard presentations and discussed several EHS issues impacting the electronics industry. The committee will help write the EHS section of the 2015-2016 IPC Roadmap. A presentation on the EICC Code of Conduct sparked good debate and discussion on what requirements may be seen in the future. IPC staff gave an update on their advocacy efforts on substance restrictions, both nationally and internationally. The presentations are available to IPC Members at www.ipc.org/ehs.

The 4-32 Equipment Safety Subcommittee discussed the continued efforts to develop a joint equipment safety standard with SEMI. Committee members present at the meeting discussed the need to move forward with a draft standard.

The 4-33 Halogen Free Laminate Materials Subcommittee was re-activated to try to provide both technical as well as financial information that helps prove the case of why tetrabrominated bis-phenol A should not be restricted any further as a flame retardant for printed board laminate.

The 4-34b Marking, Symbols and Labels for Identification of Assemblies, Components & Devices Task Group reviewed updates needed on J-STD-609A, IPC/JEDEC Marking and Labeling of Components, PCBs and PCBAs to Identify Lead (Pb), Lead-Free (Pb-Free) and Other Attributes, including adding references to the recast RoHS Directive and clarification that markings under this standard do not denote EU RoHS compliance or any other regional substance restriction legislation addressing lead content. The standard was intended to label PCB surface finishes, component terminal finishes, and attachment solders, as opposed to the lead used internal to the component.

Management

The 8-41 Technology Roadmap Subcommittee celebrated the publication of the 2015 IPC International Technology Roadmap for Electronic Interconnections. The roadmap represents two years of work by an international team and provides the vision and needs assessments of OEM, ODM, and EMS companies between now and 2015. In addition to discussing the newly published roadmap, the subcommittee also gathered comments on areas of improvement or need for the 2017 edition.

Intellectual Property

The E-21EMS Intellectual Property Subcommittee met to discuss the working draft version of IPC-1072, Intellectual Property Protection in Printed Board Manufacturing. Following the meeting, the document was to be distributed as a draft for industry review to generate feedback from industry and prepare a ballot document. The goal is to ballot the document by June and publish in fall or winter 2015. Changes made to this standard may be reflected in an amendment to IPC-1071A.

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