IPC: Committed to Creating 1 Million New Workforce Opportunities in Five Years

“We have certified and educated the industry for decades and wondered what more we could do,” IPC’s John Mitchell, president and CEO, discusses IPC’s commitment to create 1 million new skilled workforce opportunities for the #electronics industry within five years on the #podcast Manufacturing Tomorrow’s Workforce.

Listen here: https://www.podbean.com/eu/pb-5a5r5-c554c4

Wage and Salary Survey Offers Competitive Benchmarking Opportunity to North American Electronics Assembly Companies

By Sharon Starr, director, market research

IPC’s biennial Wage Rate and Salary Survey for the North American Electronics Assembly Industry is much more than its name implies. It collects data on compensation for 40 hourly and salaried technical, manufacturing and sales positions at original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) and contract electronics manufacturing services (EMS) companies in North America. In addition, it covers salary budget growth, planned increases for 2020, and employee benefits and policies.

Companies can use this study to assess their competitiveness in today’s labor market. The survey covers 25 hourly, 11 salaried and four sales positions, including commission rates for both internal sales and customer service staff as well as independent manufacturers’ representatives. The report on the results will show the data in averages and percentiles. It will be segmented by company type, size and region, enabling companies to assess their competitive position as employers within their region and company-size tier. Job descriptions are also included in the report.

The study will enable companies to benchmark their employee benefits and HR policies against industry norms. The survey covers the use of various types of insurance and retirement plans, flexible hours, paid leave, performance appraisal methods, tuition reimbursement and many other policies, making the results a valuable resource for companies wishing to update their human resource management strategies. The study is unique in in its focus on the North American electronics assembly industry. Survey participants will receive the report on the findings at no cost.

The survey is intended for HR professionals and executives who can provide data on a range of positions and policies. The survey is open now with an extended response deadline of November 8. The survey can be accessed at www.ipc.org/WageSurvey2019.

Participants are asked for their IPC company code to start the survey. They can obtain their codes by contacting IPC’s market research team at marketresearch@ipc.org or calling +1 847-597-2868. The company code is used to protect the confidentiality of participants’ data. IPC publishes only aggregate numbers and maintains strict confidentiality. The report will not identify participating companies.


Evaluating RoHS: What Works and What Doesn’t

By Kelly Scanlon, director, EHS policy and research

The European Union’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive, known as RoHS, aims to protect human health and the environment and maximize recovery of certain hazardous substances after their use. How well is the RoHS Directive working? We’re about to find out.

Specifically, there are several opportunities between now and December to express feedback to the European Commission regarding the existing directive, the methodology for exemptions, and whether the list of restricted substances should be altered. IPC is coordinating input from the electronics manufacturing industry, aiming to influence future rules in a way that protects human health, the environment, and industry competitiveness.

If your company uses substances that are on the RoHS list, we want to hear from you. Please check out this IPC document, which summarizes four activities that IPC is leading to collect and submit the industry’s input. This is an exciting time to rethink how chemical and product policies can help us to make electronics – and the world – better. Reach out to me if you have experiences with the EU RoHS Directive that you would like to share.

By the way, we invite you to learn more about these opportunities in an upcoming IPC EHS Tech Ed webinar on 14 November 2019.

Safari Circuits Lends Support to New IPC Training Video, SMT Component Removal

By Mark Pritchard, director, media training

Safari Circuits of Otsego, Mich. has once again provided technical and financial assistance to help create a new IPC training video, SMT Component Removal.

Chris Barrett, quality inspection and training manager at Safari Circuits travelled to the IPC Video office in Taos, N.M. to shoot this new video during the week of Oct 6. Chris also provided the hands-on soldering demonstrations for another upcoming video on Soldering Iron Tip Care during that week.

Safari Circuits contributed the costs of Chris’ time and travel to support these IPC training efforts.

This is the fifth video that Safari has sponsored, all of which have won industry awards.

144C: Hand Soldering – SMT Component Installation / Communicator Award
143C: Through Hole Component Preparation and Hand Soldering / Telly Award
145C: Basic SMT Rework without Component Removal / AVA Digital Award
118C: Terminal Soldering / Telly Award
141C: Through Hole Soldering – Rework and Component Removal / W3 Award

Our sincere thanks to Chris Barrett and Safari Circuits for this outstanding contribution to the educational efforts of our industry.

To learn more about IPC training videos and the latest releases, visit http://videotraining.ipcedge.org.



Are You an Electronics Supplier that Uses the IMDS? AIAG Needs to Hear from You!

By Kelly Scanlon, director, EHS policy and research

The International Material Data System (IMDS) is the automobile industry’s system for managing information on materials used in auto manufacturing; it enables companies to meet national and international standards, laws, and regulatory obligations for materials declarations. Some suppliers may have used Recommendation 019 (REC 019) materials in their IMDS declarations in the electronics supply chain. REC 019 provided a modular approach to electronic components reporting, including components containing lead (Pb).

In September 2019, the IMDS Steering Committee voted to deactivate REC 019 because suppliers may not have diligently followed the required reporting process, leading to unacceptable risks. Deactivating this process removes the modular reporting and may now require a full materials declaration, a change that will increase resource requirements for all electronic components previously using REC 019 materials.

The IMDS Steering Committee is seeking feedback from suppliers on enhancements to the IMDS that would reduce impacts to suppliers due to the deactivation. To that end, the Automotive Industry Action Group (AIAG) is hosting a free webinar on 18 October from 9:00–10:00 am ET to provide a forum for suppliers to discuss impacts. The AIAG welcomes suppliers to bring examples of how the Material Data Sheets for their IMDS entries will change if they must use full material disclosure. They will be providing all information from the webinar to the IMDS Steering Committee later in October; thus this webinar is very timely and important for those who want to express their concerns about potential impacts and enhancements to the IDMS to resolve the issues.

Click here to register for the AIAG webinar and be sure to share your concerns about potential impacts and bright ideas for resolution.

IPC Joins European Industry Group on Responsible Sourcing of Minerals

By Chris Mitchell, vice president, global government relations and Ken Schramko, senior director, North American government relations

On an issue of long-running concern to the electronics industry, IPC has joined the European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM) as part of its continuing efforts to help IPC members avoid undue regulation and navigate the challenge of responsible minerals sourcing.

The EPRM is a multi-stakeholder partnership aiming to break the links between minerals extraction, conflict, and human rights violations and to increase the proportion of responsibly produced minerals in in conflict and high-risk areas (CAHRAs), especially the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). For years, the United Nations has reported that serious violations of human rights are widespread in the DRC, including acts of violence by government forces, criminal networks, and other armed groups that derive illegal revenues from smuggling and taxation of minerals from DRC mines.

In response, the EPRM is building partnerships and sharing knowledge about due diligence related to four minerals – tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG) – which are used in many electronic components in key sectors such as automobiles, health care, ICT, aerospace and defense.

The group is especially focused on assisting small and medium-sized enterprises with their due diligence requirements. Specifically, the EPRM is preparing to launch an initiative in November called “Due Diligence Ready,” through which companies will be able to access information, tools, and training materials to prepare for new EU rules coming into effect in 2021.

IPC decided to join the EPRM at the urging of members of our European Government Relations Committee. The choice was clear: The electronics industry could put its head in the sand and ignore the issue; or it could work voluntarily with peers and stakeholders to encourage the responsible sourcing of minerals. The committee chose the latter course for two reasons. First, electronics companies, as consumers of these minerals, want to avoid any association with these conflicts and human rights abuses. Second, by engaging with policy makers and influencers, the industry hopes to avert and minimize undue regulatory burdens on industry. Our members’ actions, however strenuous, cannot fix the root causes of conflict in these regions.

IPC has been involved in the conflict minerals dialogue for years, representing our members in proceedings and negotiations with policymakers; developing standards and guidance to promote industry compliance; and participating in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) as it developed international guidance.

For example, after the Dodd-Frank legislation was signed into law in the United States, and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) finalized its conflict minerals regulation, IPC and its partners developed and released IPC-1755, a standard that helps industry suppliers and customers share conflict-minerals data along the entire global supply chain. Currently, this standard is undergoing revision to be better aligned with the OECD guidance, with a new version expected in early 2020. The IPC E-31H Conflict Minerals Data Exchange Task Group is conducting the revision process, and one of its co-chairs, Environmental Compliance Manager Nikki Johnson of Total Parts Plus (TPP), is serving as IPC’s representative to EPRM.

Going forward, IPC will be working closely with EPRM members including Intel, Apple, Samsung and HP to implement supply chain practices that promote support responsible sourcing channels for minerals. EPRM is working to achieve this goal through four main objectives:

• Develop and operate a knowledge platform to inform stakeholders on due diligence;
• Educate SMEs in Europe about the importance of responsible mineral sourcing;
• Facilitate connections between upstream, midstream, and downstream actors; and
• Align “mining intervention strategies” and expand resources to support artisanal and small-scale mines to improve their practices and access global markets.

Our focus is on making sure that our industry demonstrates its commitment to meaningful voluntary approaches because we have heard directly from European Commission officials and Members of the European Parliament that mandatory reporting requirements are being contemplated.

U.S. Policy Direction in Suspense

Meanwhile, in the United States, IPC continues to believe that collaborative, industry-driven approaches like those favored in Europe would be more effective than the current U.S. regulations, which were issued in 2012 under Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation law.

In 2014, a federal court ruled that a portion of the SEC rule violated the First Amendment. In April 2017, the SEC’s Division of Corporation Finance issued new guidance indicating a lighter approach to enforcement. That said, the rule remains on the books, and the SEC could still initiate enforcement action if companies did not report on their due diligence as required.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a mandatory annual report on the issue, concluding that little has changed since 2017:

• In 2018, 1,117 companies filed conflict minerals disclosures—roughly the same number as in 2017 and 2016.
• An estimated 56% of companies were able to report whether the minerals in their products came from the DRC or neighboring countries. That number rose significantly between 2014 and 2015 and has since leveled off.
• Of the 56% who were able to report, 38% of companies reported their minerals came from a covered country, and 61% reported they could not definitively confirm the source of the minerals in their products, with both figures about the same as in prior years.
• Approximately 94% of companies required to conduct due diligence reported conducting it, and of those, 89% reported using the OECD’s due diligence framework.
• Violence continues to be prevalent in the regions of concern.

The GAO notes that as of June 2019, a revision of the SEC rule was on the agency’s long-term regulatory agenda, “which means— according to SEC staff—that any action would likely not take place until after March 2020.”

Please contact Ken Schramko if you have questions about responsible sourcing of minerals, IPC’s advocacy programs on this issue, or our membership in EPRM.

Take Advantage of IPC Educational Opportunities

John Mitchell, IPC president and CEO, provides information on certification and training courses currently available from IPC.

Weaving Advocacy into E-Textiles

By Kelly Scanlon, director, EHS policy and research

Electronic textiles (e-textiles) – fabrics that have electronics embedded in them to achieve certain functions – are of growing interest in the electronics manufacturing industry, and thus they are of growing interest to the IPC Government Relations team as well.

E-textiles and their requisite parts on display at the Drexel Center for Functional Fabrics

E-textiles are being developed and/or used for a variety of interesting applications, from sensing physiological changes in medical patients; to monitoring vital signs of military service members; to displaying warning lights on clothing that can call attention to first responders.

To learn more, last week I attended IPC E-Textiles 2019, a conference at the Drexel Center for Functional Fabrics (CFF) in Philadelphia, where designers, suppliers, engineers, and innovators met to exchange knowledge, network, and tour the CFF.

I learned that the IPC D-70 E-Textiles Committee has finalized an industry standard called IPC-8921, Requirements for Woven and Knitted Electronics Textiles Integrated with Conductive Fibers, Conductive Yarns and/or Wires, which is the first standard of its kind. I also heard from more than a dozen experts on the latest developments and challenges regarding materials, processing, testing, and applications.

As a member of IPC’s Government Relations team and as an environment, health and safety (EHS) professional, my objective was to bring the IPC spirit of innovation and collaboration to develop an advocacy strategy for e-textiles. As this field continues to evolve, IPC will be working to learn more from our members, educate policymakers, and advocate for policies that will support further progress. We’ll also be looking to collaborate with other associations and organizations touched by e-textiles – including in the military, medical, and automotive industries – to develop a comprehensive agenda backed by varied stakeholders with shared interests.

Advocating for innovation requires educating those outside of the innovation space. The IPC GR is well positioned to connect those on the inside with those on the outside to lessen the distance between the two.

To learn more or participate in our advocacy efforts, please visit our website and/or contact me.

New EPA Proposal for “High Priority” Chemicals

by Kelly Scanlon, director, EHS policy and research

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposes to designate 20 chemical substances as High-Priority Substances for upcoming risk evaluations. Several of the proposed chemicals are relevant to the manufacture or production of electronics: phthalates, flame retardants, and formaldehyde. The EPA is asking for comments on the proposed designations by November 21, 2019 and IPC will work with you to coordinate comments from the electronics industry and to represent the electronics industry in briefings with members of the TSCA office in Washington, D.C.

The table below lists the proposed candidates for High-Priority Substances. Highlighted text indicates that the EPA has identified uses that may be relevant to the electronics sector. If your company manufactures (including imports), processes, distributes, uses, or disposes of any of these chemical substances, then you will want to consider providing information regarding the chemical’s conditions of use. The EPA will use this information to determine whether the proposed designation as a High-Priority Substance is appropriate.

Please consider the following questions when determining whether to prepare comments to the EPA in conjunction with IPC:
• Did the EPA accurately identify this chemical substance’s use based on your knowledge of electronics manufacturing and production processes?
• What function does the chemical perform in the process or the product?
• What is the chemical’s criticality to the process and the product?
• How would you describe the scenario of use for the chemical substance including potential human or environmental exposure?

The proposed designation of the chemical substances as a High-Priority Substance is not a finding of unreasonable risk, rather this designation will initiate a risk evaluation for the chemical substance. The risk evaluation will determine whether the chemical presents an unreasonable risk to health or the environment under the conditions of use. Risk evaluations will inform risk management actions that impose restrictions on the chemical. We will have opportunities to engage with the EPA at several points during any future risk evaluations, but early engagement and frequent knowledge-sharing with the policy makers will enable development of policies that accurately reflect the uses of these chemicals.

If you have any questions, please contact me at KellyScanlon@ipc.org, +1 202 661 8091.

IPC Names Shawn DuBravac, Global Tech Trends Expert, as New Chief Economist

Today, IPC announced Shawn DuBravac, Ph.D., CFA, will serve as the association’s chief economist. In this role, DuBravac will expand IPC’s research program and provide insights on the biggest issues facing the $2 trillion global electronics industry, including supply chain resiliency/uncertainty, trade wars, skilled workforce shortage, and the expanding role of electronics in the global economy.

“The electronics industry is at the heart of thousands of essential products and services, as well as millions of jobs across the globe,” said DuBravac. “I look forward to working with the leaders and members of IPC to uncover actionable insights about the most pressing issues impacting the health of the electronics industry.”

For more than a dozen years, DuBravac served as chief economist for the Consumer Technology Association, a U.S. trade association representing more than 2,000 consumer tech companies. More recently, he has provided consulting, research, and advisory services to clients on topics including digital transformation, business model disruptions, and global supply chains. He is also the author of the New York Times best seller, “Digital Destiny: How the New Age of Data Will Transform the Way We Work, Live, and Communicate,” and has appeared in Bloomberg, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Financial Times, Washington Post and more. DuBravac is a member of the National Association of Business Economists and currently serves as the president of the Conference of Business Economists.

“Shawn’s expertise in providing insightful analysis on the technological and economic trends shaping our world is perfectly aligned with IPC’s role as a trusted source of industry information,” said Chris Mitchell, IPC’s vice president of global government relations. “He will be an asset to IPC and our members as we look to expand our research, education, and advocacy efforts.”