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Best to proactively address environmental compliance

Chuck Cimalore
By Chuck Cimalore CTO, Omnify Software

As the momentum to go green continues to build across the globe, the number of environmental regulations for reducing hazardous substances keeps growing. At the same time, more and more customers are now setting their own environmental requirements, adding more complexity to the mix. Ignoring the issue is not an option, as the consequences of noncompliance—public relations nightmares, delays resulting in missed consumer trends, blocked shipments, costly redesigns, and scrapped products—can be devastating to your bottom line.

To avoid these costs and enable product stewardship, companies need to precisely identify, track and control a constantly evolving list of high-risk substances—in their products and their supply chain. Additionally, companies must better manage reports that involve testing and certification for products and materials.

Spreadsheets, homegrown databases and manual processes cannot meet this enormous data-management challenge. Companies need a sustainability framework built on a product lifecycle management (PLM) foundation that lets them build environmental compliance into the earliest phases of product development, where decisions have the most impact and disrupt as little as possible.

Technology like PLM helps to address environmental compliance early in the design cycle and provides engineers with key compliance information to make better design decisions. PLM provides a central location to manage, track and report all product content and associated compliance information from vendor certificates of compliance to vendor datasheets.

Product environmental requirements are subject to change as new restricted substances are identified and existing exemptions expire. New mandates are emerging that focus on energy use, carbon footprint and other environmental metrics, such as REACH 2018, RoHS 2, and conflict minerals. To stay up to date with the mandates, flexibility in due diligence data collection is key. The ability to tailor your PLM system to add in additional environmental compliance data collection requirements as they are mandated allows you to stay on top of the efforts and be more effective in data recall for detailed reports.

As suppliers respond to these regulatory and market forces, the availability, cost and even the viability of the components and materials companies purchase for use in products will be impacted. Managing and mitigating these supply chain risks while providing both an early-warning system and data to support effective decision-making in design and production is critical.

The time to address product and supply chain risk begins early in product development. Leading companies proactively ensure that products meet business and performance targets in the earliest stages where changes can be readily made and with the least impact. This practice is key because component and supplier decisions are made and costs are locked in at the initial stages of the product lifecycle. Getting product design right at the beginning sounds good, but it is easier said than done. Manufacturers must align product design and supply chain challenges in the earliest phases of product development in order to make good decisions. At many firms, though, engineers and product developers don’t even have visibility to the right information let alone tools to analyze and make tradeoffs.

PLM tech addresses these challenges by providing the ability to manage complex bills of material and frequent product changes with tracking and reporting of environmental compliance data and documentation. PLM systems also give engineers visibility to make informed decisions with direct access to online content providers that supply compliance information on millions of parts. Because PLM associates all of this information to a single product record, it is easy to aggregate the data for compliance reporting.

PLM empowers companies to be in control of their compliance data and create cost effective and efficient compliance management processes.

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