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[Highlights 2006] Providing Safe Notebook PCs Worldwide -Reducing Hazardous Substances in Cooperation with Suppliers in China

Featured in CSR Report 2006
Note: Contents and Titles as of June 2006

Meeting the RoHS DirectiveNote1 is a Must

Toshiba notebook PCs are sold throughout the world but most are manufactured in China. As the PC business, which is one of Toshiba's principal businesses, operates globally, satisfying the requirements of the EU's RoHS Directive which came into force in July 2006 is a must. This cannot be achieved without the cooperation of suppliers since the directive requires that parts and components do not contain any of six specified hazardous substances.

We are requesting our suppliers in Japan and overseas to implement the Toshiba Group Procurement Policy requiring suppliers to fulfill CSR, which, in addition to green procurement such as compliance with the RoHS Directive, includes legal compliance, prohibition of child labor and discrimination and provision of safe and clean working environments.

Here, we introduce the CSR activities of Toshiba's notebook PC business undertaken in cooperation with suppliers.

RoHS Directive: Directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment. It bans the use of lead, mercury, cadmium, hexavalent chromium, polybrominated biphenyls (PBB) and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) in electrical and electronic equipment to be marketed in the EU from July 2006 onward. Similar regulations have been implemented around the world.

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Comprehensive Systems and Procedures

Toshiba Information Equipment (Hangzhou) Co., Ltd. (TIH), which started operation in April 2003, in the Hangzhou Export Processing Zone, is the production base for Toshiba's high-end notebook PCsNote2. Manufacturing products principally for Japan, North America and Europe, TIH's cumulative production exceeded 3 million units in December 2005.

"From day one, TIH introduced high-quality environmental facilities comparable to those in Japan, gaining ISO 14001 certification in the second month of operation. In terms of our overall business, we have positioned environmental protection as a priority issue for management. As TIH is a frontrunner in China, a country where environmental issues are moving to the fore, we receive visitors from all over China," says Ippei Futaki, president of TIH since March 2005. "Since January 2006, TIH's entire output of PCs has been in compliance with the RoHS Directive, way in advance of the enforcement of the directive in July. We spent more than 18 months putting comprehensive systems and procedures in place."

The Design Center opened in April 2004 has been upgraded with the introduction of fluorescent X-ray measuring instruments for periodic sampling tests of parts in addition to checking the database. In order to investigate any inclusion of hazardous substances, certain parts are disassembled and crushed and analyses are performed to determine the elements they contain.

photo of The world's first AV notebook PC with HD DVD-ROM drive manufactured by TIH

The world's first AV notebook PC with HD DVD-ROM drive manufactured by TIH

High-end notebook PCs: Qosmio, dynabook and other sophisticated Toshiba notebook PC models for the global marketplace that are designed to be differentiated products providing new values to users.

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Cooperation of Suppliers is Indispensable

A notebook PC contains more than one thousand parts, ranging from the plastic case, electronic circuits and cables to tiny screws. Steps must be taken to ensure that banned hazardous substances are not present in any component. Ome Complex in Japan, which is responsible for product development and design, specifies parts free of the hazardous substances and parts procurement is in accordance with the parts list it issues.

In May 2005 at a gathering of about 100 suppliers from China and elsewhere, TIH explained the outline of the RoHS Directive and Toshiba's policy, stressing that compliance is a prerequisite for eligibility as a supplier.

Wuxi Alps Electronics Co., Ltd. (Wuxi Alps), a supplier, was able to respond swiftly because its manufacturing processes were already environmentally friendly. Since the 1990s, Wuxi Alps has been working to eliminate hazardous substances in order to meet the requirements of customers committed to green procurement. As well as a database on raw materials, Wuxi Alps has its own green procurement standards covering all regulations and revises the standards as necessary.

However, not all parts manufacturers were as advanced as Wuxi Alps at the outset. "TIH procures about 40% of its parts from manufacturers in China. Some are subsidiaries of Japanese manufacturers, some are local companies and others are based in other countries. Consequently, the affinity with the new way of doing business varied widely among manufacturers. It required perseverance to explain Toshiba's policy to each manufacturer, confirm that everything was clearly understood and conclude a contract," says Katsuhiro Gyotoku, procurement manager.

photo of Junbo Li (left), Parts Verification Technology Section Manager

TIH Design Center performs on-site inspections to confirm no hazardous substances banned by the RoHS Directive are present in parts and components.

Junbo Li (left), Parts Verification Technology Section Manager

photo of Liu Yan (left), Procurement Administration Section Manager Jiu Fan, Quality Assurance Section Manager

The flow of parts control was comprehensively upgraded to respond to the RoHS Directive.

Liu Yan (left), Procurement Administration Section Manager
Jiu Fan, Quality Assurance Section Manager

photo of Cui GuiYing, Line Leader PCB Manufacturing Section

To ensure strict control, barcodes are affixed to all subdivided packages containing parts.

Cui GuiYing, Line Leader PCB Manufacturing Section

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Barcode Control of All Parts

As one element in the response to the RoHS Directive, TIH established a database of material compositions and historical information.

In parallel with the construction of the database in cooperation with the design team at Ome Complex, TIH held a second briefing for suppliers in September 2005, requesting them to introduce barcode labels for material compositions and lot numbers. Since this information is input to the database by swiping the barcodes upon delivery of parts and components, TIH can retrieve shipment information instantly in the event of any problem and implement countermeasures.

Also, the processes from receipt of parts at the site to supply of the parts to the production line are strictly controlled. For example, tens of thousands of screws are delivered in a single lot. Parts information is read from the barcode on the package and screws in a lot are subdivided into bags before they are transferred to the production line. A barcode label is affixed to each bag so that parts and parts information correspond accurately.

"Our production is high-mix low-volume. We produce about 20 models of PCs in 26 languages. This means we produce some 1,400 different types of PCs every month. So, in order to prevent any confusion, such as omission of a parts lot number, the layout of shelving and deployment of the workforce have been optimized based on careful consideration of the sorting of parts and the flow of parts acceptance and delivery. In addition, thorough on-site training and instructions are provided," explains Liu Xiaojun, PCB manufacturing Section Manager.

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Contributing to China's Society through Ethical Manufacturing

"Eastern China is home to numerous suppliers and manufacturers. Indeed, it accounts for 80% of worldwide notebook PC production. Factor in the rapid expansion of the market in China, and it's clear why Hangzhou has such a pivotal role as a production and supply base for Toshiba's global operations," says Futaki.

He continues, "TIH aims to become the world's foremost notebook PC factory." Clearly, although much remains to be done, TIH is rising to challenge.

Efforts on the Part of Suppliers

Wuxi Alps Electronics Co., Ltd. established in 1995, one of the six Alps factories in China, is a large operation with some 7,500 employees. It manufactures parts for industrial equipment and multimedia devices. Having established its own original green procurement standards, Wuxi Alps is satisfying the requirements of the RoHS Directive. Its quality policy is to comply with all applicable rules and to ensure customers are kept free of trouble. The company supplies switches and connectors to TIH.

“We are stepping up our environmental protection efforts by emphasizing internal audits and education.”

Mr. Cao Ming, Wuxi Alps Electronics Co., Ltd.

photo of Mr. Cao Ming