Rockwell Automation to suppliers: unleaded only please

Aug 30, 2004

Rockwell Automation has notified 2,000 suppliers worldwide that they must stop using lead in certain products by October 2004. The mandate for Rockwell Automation suppliers comes in advance of pending global environmental regulations.

Rockwell Automation's supplier mandate means that, for example, it will only accept lead-free solder, used for circuit boards assembly, or lead-free additives, used for electrical cable jackets. Eliminating the additives, which are used in the compounds that are used to insulate wire and cable may be problematic. According to Control Design Senior Technical Editor Dan Hebert ("Get the Lead Out," Industrial Networking, July '04, p28) "the primary reason for adding lead to wire and cable insulating compounds is thermal stability. Lead cannot be removed without a detrimental effect on performance, so a substitute chemical must be added to duplicate the same function as the lead stabilizer."

Rockwell Automation's efforts come well in advance of certain material restrictions imposed by the European Union (EU) affecting electrical and electronic equipment sold in Europe. The Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, effective in July 2006, bans the sale of some types of electrical and electronic products that contain certain substances.

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