Trojan urges WEEE compliance not denial

09 September 2008

The cradle to grave ethos, where manufacturers take responsibility for the products they create from inception to the end of their life, became yet more firmly ensconced in the industrial firmament with the introduction of the WEEE Directive.

The European Commission’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive was introduced to minimise the impact of electrical and electronic goods on the environment, by increasing reuse and recycling and reducing the amount electronic goods going to landfill.

Producers are deemed responsible for financing the collection, treatment, and recovery of waste electrical equipment, while distributors have to allow consumers to return their waste equipment free of charge.

Yet, despite the prospect of potentially hefty fines for non-compliance, Clive Murphy, MD of South Wales-based Trojan Electronics, says that fewer than 25 per cent of businesses who should be complying to this legislation are actually signed up to do so.

“The problem of non-compliance is particularly rife among SMEs,” he explained. “Perhaps, in these difficult trading times it is seen as yet another tax, and companies are burying their heads in the sand rather than address the issue.”

“However, businesses could find themselves heavily penalised for failing to comply,” he added. “Not only do companies face a fine for non-compliance, but they stand to be charged back-payments for all the products they have released onto the market that come under WEEE regulations. The cost of signing up and keeping their house in order is infinitely less than the punitive consequences of such penalties.”

Trojan Electronics offers contract manufacturing services for electronic products and sub-assemblies, along with refurbishment and recycling services over a wide range of consumer electrical and IT goods.

For those baffled by the demands of labyrinthine regulatory requirements, Trojan can offer a competitive WEE compliance management service as part of its sub contract manufacturing arm.

“In many instances, companies have been paying far too much for this kind of service, “ confirmed Murphy. “Which might be another reason why SMEs have avoided signing up. However, the service we offer is extremely attractive financially, offering excellent value for money. In fact, we saved one client - a major manufacturer - 50 per cent on what they had been paying previously for their WEEE compliance management service.”

Trojan Electronics, which employs 60 people, is committed to offering clients value for money - which was a key motivating factor for recent investment in a comprehensive Factory Master system.

“One of the major benefits of installing this system is that it gives us far better control over inventory, resulting in significantly less capital being tied up unnecessarily in stock,” said Murphy. “We have had the system fully operational for less than two months, and in that time we have reduced stock by 25%. Savings made from reduced stock holding can be passed on to the customer,” he continued. “Freeing up capital also helps our cash flow - which is the lifeblood of every business.”

David O’Keefe, Trojan Electronics’ director, added: “The system has helped us consolidate our manufacturing jobs, looking at every job that is live over a 10-week period, and calculating what materials we need. We are then able to see what can be purchased in bulk - which is a more cost effective way of purchasing.”

Trojan Electronics is also using its Factory Master as a time management system, enabling far more accurate timing of jobs, and more effective costing.

“Each operator logs on when they start a job, and logs off when they finish - this means that we now know exactly how long certain procedures take, and we can pinpoint costs extremely accurately, rather than making an educated estimate,” said O’Keefe.

Another crucial feature of Factory Master is that it assures traceability of components to aerospace standards. “Aerospace standards of traceability are the highest,” O’Keefe confirmed. “It gives us a complete genealogy report on every component, therefore we know exactly what’s gone into it, who has worked on it, and where it has been.”

“This level of quality assurance means that we can work with companies in the aerospace and automative sectors - which demand this level of traceability - and also gives reassurance to all our other clients, who know we are serious operators. Furthermore, in the event of a product recall, the exact rogue element can be pinpointed readily, saving time and money.”

In the interests of transparency and value for money Trojan Electronics has introduced an open book costing system, and an open factory floor system.

“Clients understand that we have to make money, but they are reassured to learn that our mark-up is not exorbitant,” said Murphy. “And the open floor ethos means that our contract manufacturing clients can come to our plant and carry out quality checks and audits, should they wish to. That way our business really does become part of theirs.”

One of Trojan’s contracts is to supply and build Voice Over IP telephone systems for innovative telecommunications company Small Planet Technology - a contract worth in the region of £400,000 per annum.

Brian Docherty, Small Planet Technology MD, said: “Trojan’s open book pricing structure made life very easy. With full details of costs of each item, and build times allocated against each stage of the job, we were able to keep tight control of our costs. Trojan also demonstrated some very aggressive purchasing, passing these savings on to us.”

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