24 May 2006
Enironmental Manufacturing(HKTDC Enterprise, Vol 06,2006)
Fook Tin Technologies Ltd
|The Fook Tin Group is the first in the world to be awarded an internationally-recognised IECQ "green manufacturing" certificate|
A Hong Kong electronics manufacturer has become the first in the world to be awarded an internationally-recognised hazardous substance process management certificate.
The Fook Tin Group, which specialises in the design, manufacturing, marketing and distribution of electronic products, was recently awarded the world's first IECQ QC 080000 Hazardous Substance Process Management (HSPM) certificate on Green Process Supplier and Manufacturing Certification.
The certificate complements the Eco-Product Gold Award the firm received in 2005, and reaffirms Hong Kong manufacturing's commitment to ecological directives such as those on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), and the restriction on the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (RoHS).
Fook Tin managing director Dr John Chai admits it was challenging to establish the system and processes to fulfil certification requirements.
"We've already had the system and processes to control restricted substances in our products since WEEE and RoHS were announced a couple of years ago," Chai notes. "The main benefit to us obtaining this [new] certification is to validate the effectiveness of our system by an internationally-recognised third party."
Swiss firm SGS, one of the world's leading entities in testing, certification, inspection and verification services, was engaged to validate Fook Tin's process and systems.
SGS proposed that Fook Tin test whether its system was compliant with the new global certification standard IECQ QC 080000 for electronic components, participation in which is entirely voluntary.
IECQ, the abbreviated name for the IEC Quality Assessment System for Electronic Components, provides visibility and independent verification that electronic components and related materials and processes, including those below the user's level of specification in the supply chain, are compliant with appropriate standards, specifications and/or other documents.
"Although certification in itself is not a legal requirement, we were driven by three forces: customer requirements, existing and emerging legal requirements and management expectations to establish a certified hazardous substance process management system," Chai explains.
Fook Tin's manufacturing facilities in Shenzhen on the southern Chinese mainland cover more than 600,000 square feet and employ more than 2,300 workers, as well as 300 people in specialist positions, including 80 skilled engineers and designers in the R&D section.
The firm's products, which require the services of more than 600 suppliers, include body-fat scales that can provide the user with health-related data, based on the results of body fat readings measured against weight, age, sex, height and level of daily exercise.
Besides health-monitoring equipment, Fook Tin also specialises in the design and manufacture of state-of-the-art electronic products including all types of scales (medical, bathroom, kitchen, utility and postal).
"We are arguably the biggest player in this field, with about 26% of the global market," says Chai. "Annual production is now running at seven million pieces, servicing 500 major clients in more than 80 countries."
The 43-year-old company's commitment to quality began with ISO 9001 certification in January 1998, which ensured the highest standard of quality management being applied company-wide.
"We were ISO 14001-certified in July 2002, reflecting our commitment to environmental management systems, and received the OHSAS18001 certificate for Occupational Health and Safety Management in August 2004," Chai recalls. "Five months later, in January 2005, we received ISO 13485 certification for Quality Management System of Medical Devices."
However, the IECQ QC 080000 Hazardous Substance Process Management (HSPM) certificate took Fook Tin's commitment to a whole new level.
Chai says the company started the systematic management of its "green manufacturing process" two years ago. "It is certainly a complex process as we have to make sure that the entire supply chain components are compliant," he explains.
This involved communicating and coordinating with more than 600 of Fook Tin's component suppliers and sourcing, testing and approving hundreds of components within a product.
"More than 1,000 individual hazardous substance tests are conducted for each product, and we have hundreds of products on our active list," Chai adds.
Establishing and implementing a comprehensive hazardous substance process management system adds 5%-10% to costs, but Chai believes it is a price well worth paying.
"We as a company embrace sustainable development," Chai insists. "I believe that our environmental performance, together with our achievements in quality, technology and innovation and corporate social responsibility, will earn us a wider customer base to balance these costs."
WRITTEN BY JAMES PALMER
Fook Tin Technologies Ltd