Didn't like the problems of complying with RoHS law? Well, you're certainly not going to like a new EU Directive that's expected to emerge in just over a year's time.
Called the Energy using Products (EuP) Directive, it should become law by September 2007. It's raison d'être? Cut energy consumption across all European Union countries, which can only be considered a good thing.
EuP is described as a Framework Directive. In other words, well-behaved industry sectors are allowed to self-regulate. But before thinking this is a soft approach, it's worth remembering that such Directives do have provision to quickly and easily introduce compulsory legislation aimed at bringing poorly performing sectors into line.
There's no doubt that the EuP Directive is going to hugely impact the European and, ultimately, the global electronics industry. It will affect the power consumption performance of electronically based products from computers to TVs, through to power supplies and hordes of other applications.
So what do manufacturers of energy-using products have to do to stay on the right side of law? Simply put, companies will be required to assess the energy consumption of their products on a lifetime basis, and to show progressive improvements. As a result, OEM electronics designers must continue to search for and develop ways of reducing energy consumption in their products. Naturally, those designers will be looking to source components and subassemblies that help them achieve power savings on a long-term basis.
Fortunately, this isn't an altogether new scenario for the electronics industry. For years now, many companies have worked hard to develop ways to make consumer products more energy efficient. Examples can be found in applications as diverse as office lighting through to luxury cars. It's interesting, then, that those companies already in the power-saving business should ideally be positioned to help OEMs meet the challenges of the EuP Directive.
On a timely note, our next edition of Electronic Design Europe will publish a report on the latest developments emanating from the international power semiconductor industry, to be unveiled at the PCIM Conference in Nuremberg. I'll be asking electronics companies at that event what they think of the EuP Directive. I'll let you know.