BSI Launch New Kitemark Scheme for PCB Assembly

Press release: 28 January 2004

A new Kitemark scheme launched by BSI will allow electronic goods manufacturers to benefit from clear capability and conformance levels of subcontract assemblers.

Through a mixture of quality plan assessment, product inspection and on-going assessment, the scheme ensures that the processes and the finished assembly of PCBs by Kitemark licensees are in accordance with the American National Standard IPC-A-610C. This widely respected standard covering all aspects of PCB assembly is published by the IPC and has been voluntarily adopted by the global electronics industry.

The world’s original equipment manufacturers (OEM’s) are increasingly subcontracting the PCB assembly process to contract electronic manufacturers (CEM’s). With no differentiator in a crowded market place it is hard for purchasers to know the comparative capabilities offered by different CEM’s.

Why has the scheme been developed?

BSI has specifically developed the Kitemark scheme to enable purchasers and specifiers to assess a CEM’s level of competence with greater certainty. Kitemark certification will enable the assembler to demonstrate both compliance and specific, detailed capability to the customer, with the authority of third party, ongoing, independent assessment by BSI.

The certification manager for the scheme, Len Pillinger of BSI Product Services, says: "The introduction of this new Kitemark scheme will create a new measure for OEMs to be able to judge the quality of PCB assemblers. Specifiers in many industries recognise the Kitemark as a badge of quality and can be sure that a licensee has not only achieved the necessary standard for their product but that they will be regularly inspected to ensure they consistently hit that standard.

"There are also environment benefits associated with this Kitemark. The launch of the scheme is timely with the forced/legal march to lead-free electronics well under way as required by the ROHS Directive (Restriction of the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment). The category of alloys used by the CEM will be one of the criteria detailed on the Kitemark certificate."

The new Kitemark scheme is a logical extension of the services that BSI Product Services offers to the electronics industry. Electronic components and unpopulated printed boards have been subjects of BSI certification for over 30 years. This pedigree has recently been further enhanced with IPC accredited training to ensure that ‘Certified IPC Specialists’ deliver assessments.

A searchable free-to-view web-based database is planned to enable end-users to compare their requirements against the proven capabilities of the CEM. This should become an invaluable resource for buyers of printed board assemblies.