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A Holistic Approach to 'Green' Regulations

Analyst Insight: Global manufacturers must meet the growing number of "green" regulations that are focused on sustainability. From the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive to the United States Conflict Minerals Directive as well as the European Union (EU) directives of Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) and Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), manufacturers must comply with a multitude of regulations that can have a major impact on their business and their supply chain. Chuck Cimalore, CTO, Omnify Software

A Holistic Approach to 'Green' Regulations

Going green and transitioning to a compliant organization requires investments of people, time and resources. Manufacturers and their suppliers need to keep track of the substances, chemicals and minerals used in their products. The impact on manufacturers is massive, and non-compliance can cost organizations millions of dollars.

Meeting these regulations requires exceptional data and documentation management as well as supply chain visibility. Environmental regulations will continue to evolve into 2020 as various countries initiate their own directives and existing regulations are revised. It is extremely important that manufacturers implement systems and processes that can adapt to this environmental movement and its influence on their supply chain.

Product lifecycle management technology provides a central repository for all product-related information and can offer a single platform for presenting supplier data. PLM can push and pull data from various systems such as enterprise resource planning, supply chain management and manufacturing execution systems in real time, creating a holistic product and supply chain management system. Since PLM systems provide the backbone for managing data during design/development phases, design engineers can access supplier data directly from the PLM system and do not need to access these other systems. This also allows manufacturers to address compliance and supply-chain issues early on. In the case of RoHS compliance requirements, the contents of parts must be identified down to the material composition level. It is essential to classify component parts early in the design cycle to capture any issues up front. Tracking RoHS data early on with PLM ensures that engineers are equipped with supplier information to design in items that are most appropriate for compliance and can make better design decisions up front to eliminate costly re-designs.

Detecting Supplier Issues and Mitigating Risk

PLM software that provides a closed-loop, quality management system allows manufacturers to capture all issues and relate them directly to the product records. Capturing issues and associating them to the product records supplies manufacturers with the ability to aggregate data from multiple product lines and across all suppliers to produce reports for non-conformance and better isolate problems in the supply chain.

In addition, PLM software can integrate with online supplier, distributor, and content provider systems to ensure design engineers always have the most up-to-date component and compliance information when creating new parts. Engineers can have direct access to critical information such as component availability, product change notifications, compliance status and compliance documentation. This also proves to be a more cost-effective method because manufacturers can detect supplier issues and mitigate supplier risk early on.

Looking into the future, manufacturers must be prepared to meet challenges that new and evolving regulations bring. PLM technology can help by providing the data visibility needed to respond to various regulations.

The Outlook

In order to meet and maintain compliance through 2020, manufacturing companies will need to rely on software solutions that can ensure that supply-chain information sharing and data classification is completely accurate and accessible to all product development parties. PLM can alleviate the costs and risks of non-compliance by automating the data management process, providing supply-chain awareness and enabling manufacturers to easily track, store and report pertinent information in a central location.

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