IECQ certification saves time and costs
Because electrical and electronic products contain many, sometimes hundreds of, individual components and sub-assemblies, manufacturers want to be assured that the electronic components used in their products are of the required quality and reliability. To minimize incoming inspection costs and eliminate the need to carry out a quality audit on parts, they can choose suppliers who hold product approvals for their components.
IECQ, the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components, provides certification at the international level for a wide variety of electronic components. At present, there are eight families of components covered by IECQ:
- active components, including integrated circuits
- electromagnetic components
- electromechanical components
- electro-optic components
- hybrid integrated circuits
- passive components
- printed boards
- wires and cables
Then there are the processes and related materials that make up the electronic components and assemblies. But there is more to electronics than just the testing and certifying of components. IECQ is continuously expanding to address industry’s needs: hazardous substances and avionics for example, or more recently ESD (electrostatic discharge).
IEC 61340-5-1, Electrostatics Part 5-1: Protection of electronic devices from electrostatic phenomena – General requirements, covers requirements for the design, implementation and maintenance of an ESD control programme for activities that manufacture, process, assemble, install, package, label, service, test, inspect, transport or otherwise handle electrical or electronic parts, assemblies and equipment susceptible to damage by electrostatic discharges greater than or equal to 100 V HBM (human body model).
Under the IECQ Process Approvals Scheme, companies and organizations may apply to IECQ-approved Certification Bodies for assessment to IEC 61340-5-1 along with IECQ Scheme requirements.
Compliance with legislations made easy
Concern for the environment and the need to eliminate hazardous waste prompted IECQ to devise a new scheme to help electronic component suppliers prove that their products comply with requirements to be free of hazardous substances. That was in 2005. Since then, the IECQ HSPM (Hazardous Substances Process Management) has grown tremendously.
Many countries have passed legislation restricting or forbidding the use of hazardous substances in electronic components. In the European Union, the RoHS (Restrictions of Hazardous Substances) in electrical and electronic equipment and WEEE (Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment) Directives took effect in July 2006 and are currently being revised.
Through IECQ HSPM certification, electronic component manufacturers and suppliers can demonstrate that their electrical and electronic components and assemblies meet hazardous-substance-free specific local, national and international requirements. IECQ HSPM certificates have gained tremendous recognition in recent years and continue to do so, thus helping to reduce costs and time to market and eliminating the need for multiple testing.
Long-term supply control
The avionics industry is increasingly dependent on COTS (commercial off-the-shelf) electronic components. These are principally mainstream products, designed and manufactured not just for aerospace but for a wide variety of industries. But the sector has to meet its own requirements in terms of performance and durability.
The avionics industry also has to face a new threat in the form of counterfeit electronic components. Counterfeit prevention is essential for avionics applications, where reliability and safety requirements are of the utmost importance.
The IECQ ECMP (Electronic Component Management Plan) provides aircraft manufacturers with a global assessment and certification covering their suppliers. In future, IECQ is planning to use this Scheme in other high-reliability sectors such as railway and automotive industries.
The IECQ website – www.iecq.org – provides detailed information of each of its schemes.