High-quality LEDs

IECQ provides structured approach to supply chain management

By Claire Marchand

The United Nations proclaimed 2015 as the International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies, recognizing “the importance of raising global awareness about how light-based technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to global challenges in energy, education, agriculture and health”. This global initiative ties in very smoothly with another, put forward by IECQ (IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components), namely the IECQ LED initiative.

Airport LED lighting LEDs are increasingly used in lighting solutions, here in an airport

Increasingly popular

In proposing the LED initiative, IECQ also recognizes the fact that LED-based lighting solutions are slowly but surely becoming the norm in shops and malls, in offices, at home, for lighting displays and a great number of industrial uses.

LEDs may still seem to be more expensive than CFLs (compact fluorescent lamps) for example but they end up being more cost-efficient in the long-term – in theory LEDs could last up to 50 000 hours and more. Their potential long-life span, together with their low energy consumption, robustness, easy control and fast switching make them extremely appealing. And they will remain appealing as long as the electronic components, parts, modules and assemblies that make up LED lighting solutions are of the highest quality and reliability.

Quality and reliability

As an outcome of the success of LED lighting solutions for domestic and industrial use, the risk of having the market flooded by a large number of manufacturers making unverifiable claims about their products' quality and reliability has increased exponentially.

Mass production of LED lighting systems cannot be made at the expense of quality and reliability. All electronic components, parts, modules and assemblies must work satisfactorily together. One faulty component can result in poor performance or even worse, the overall failure of the LED lighting system.

Trust in the quality of components

IECQ has the solution that gives manufacturers, suppliers and buyers the confidence that the products they sell or purchase have been independently verified and meet all requirements and specifications.

The IECQ AC (Approved Component) Scheme has proved to be a valuable qualification and supply chain management tool that provides for the identification and verification of compliance with component and process specifications. In line with the approved scope of the IECQ System, the IECQ AC Scheme can be applied to certify manufacturers and suppliers of electronic components and assemblies (including modules) used in the production of LED packages, engines, lamps, luminaires and associated LED ballasts and drivers.

The IECQ LED initiative takes the tried and proven IECQ AC Scheme and tailors this for the LED Lighting industry; it includes manufacturing control measures that are specific to manufacturers of LED component parts, assemblies and modules.

Already, keen interest is seen from various lighting industry associations and councils, including the Global Lighting Association.

Manufacturers that qualify are awarded an IECQ Certificate of Approval for their LED component part or module, which is included on the publicly available IECQ “On-Line” certificate System, thereby enabling OEMs (original equipment manufacturers) to quickly verify any claims of compliance by their component suppliers.

Powerful supply-chain management tool

To the manufacturer, the IECQ AC and focused LED Scheme provides a “standardized way” of evaluating suppliers and is a powerful tool in assessing and monitoring various tier-level suppliers. It removes the cost burden of monitoring and controlling the supply chain, from the OEMs to their suppliers, while also protecting the OEM brand name in the market. It also helps prevent poor-quality LED systems from entering the market which can lead to a slower market expansion.

For component and module suppliers, the benefit is the on-going assessment/evaluation conducted by a single organization – IECQ – as opposed to multiple second-party assessments and various differing criteria by each of their OEM customers.

A structured approach to the supply chain management such as IECQ also brings with it inherent efficiencies and cost savings by reducing non complying items, eliminating discarded items and reducing wasteful scrapping during production.

Purchasing LED products from manufacturers whose suppliers are covered by IECQ AC certification gives consumers the assurance that products are reliable, safe and will work as promised. It strengthens their confidence in this new and exciting technology.

With the IECQ LED Scheme, manufacturers are able to grow their markets while protecting their brand.

Component suppliers are able to demonstrate the compliance and reliability of their products which can lead to new market opportunities.

For more information on IECQ and its Schemes: www.iecq.org

Airport LED lighting LEDs are increasingly used in lighting solutions, here in an airport
light engines The IECQ AC Scheme can be applied to certify manufacturers and suppliers of electronic components and assemblies that are part of the production of LED engines... (Photo: OMC)
COB LED ...packages, lamps, luminaires and associated LED ballasts and drivers. (Photo: obs/Samsung Semiconductor Europe GmbH)