Getting the Lead Out - European Regulations Force Electronics Companies to Clean up, Impact Local Manufacturers and Distributors

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Consumers will soon have the comfort of knowing that their next laptop, cell phone and microwave may be free of hazardous components. Meanwhile, electronic component manufacturers and distributors are scrambling to re-engineer their supply chains.

– Consumers will soon have the comfort of knowing that their next laptop, cell phone and microwave may be free of hazardous components. For that they can thank the European Union, for issuing the Reduction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) directive that takes effect in the summer of 2006.

The RoHS directive limits the amount of lead and other toxic substances that electronics manufacturers can use in their products. While the EU directive doesn't have the force of law in the United States, many U.S.-based electronics manufacturers are expected to adopt the EU standards for all of their products, not just those intended for sale in Europe.

Though this may come as good news for consumers, the EU directive has manufacturers and distributors scrambling to re-engineer their supply chains. As one of the top North American electronic component distributors, Allied Electronics must also manage the implications of the directive.

“While Allied does not manufacture or design products, many of the components we sell end up in products sold in the European Union,” says Lee Davidson, president of Allied Electronics. “Very soon, our customers will want to know if the products they spec into their designs are ‘RoHS compliant.’ It will be our job to make sure that they have easy access to this information.”

One potential dilemma that distributors like Allied can expect to come out of the RoHS directive is the various transition plans of their suppliers. For example, some manufacturers have introduced new lead-free designs to existing parts, while others plan to identify compliant products by package labeling.

“The challenges of transition are substantial. Distributors and manufacturers will have to work very closely to ensure the migration to RoHS complaint product is seamless to the customer,” says Davidson. “We have taken a stance that we will be an industry leader in providing the latest information on RoHS for both our customers and our suppliers. We want everyone to have the information they need so our customers can make the right decisions when buying products from us.”

At Allied, multi-functional project teams have been established to sort through the EU directives and to work with its 300+suppliers to come up with solutions, in hopes that this approach will minimize any disruption in the supply chain and to customers.

“Allied is committed to conducting business in an environmentally friendly manner,” says Davidson. “We fully support the objectives of the directives and are working hard to ensure we provide the most up-to-date and comprehensive information about compliance.”

About Allied Electronics

Allied Electronics’ headquarters is located in Fort Worth, Texas with 57 sales branches across the United States and Canada. Allied is a subsidiary of Electrocomponents plc (LSE: ECM), the world leading catalog component distributor. Electrocomponents has operations in six continents and headquarters in Oxford, England. For more information, visit


Roxanne Martinez (817) 595-8566

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Roxanne Martinez