Case Study: Product Stewardship at Seagate Technologies

Most companies ask suppliers for declarations or certifications that their parts don’t contain restricted substances. With the growing number of regulated substances, however, this process can be cumbersome to all parties involved.

To streamline the compliance activity, Seagate Technologies asks suppliers for full material declarations (FMDs). Suppliers share all the materials and substances that go in to a part. That way, Seagate can identify specific suppliers who are affected by new regulations and regulatory changes rather than task the entire supply chain to recertify that each product they supply is compliant.

“Seagate goes back to suppliers only once a year now to remind them that if there is a change to the makeup of their products they should send a new FMD,” says Tord Dennis, practice leader at WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff. “They accomplished this with a combination of supplier contracts, supplier agreements, master service agreements and a very comprehensive set of specifications for environmental stewardship. FMD is required of new components and parts being delivered to Seagate.”

Using Seagate’s program as a case study, Dennis will talk about Driving Product Stewardship with a Solid Product Compliance Framework during a presentation at Stewardship 2016.

“You need a comprehensive product stewardship plan — how you're going to engage your supplier, how you're going to collect this data. You need a way to enforce it,” says Dennis. One example is that Seagate uses standardized forms only. “Seagate does not create its own forms. They use a standardized form such as IPC-1752A that enables suppliers to respond with a machine readable document which automates data collection and analysis.” It also aids suppliers who sell to different customers by allowing them to fill out one form thereby reducing the work they need to do.

The information is collected and reviewed when new regulations are proposed. “They have a very good IT infrastructure that allows them to zero in on any substance,” says Dennis. “They can run it across the database and see which products are most likely to be affected, then start taking action proactively.”

What about suppliers who don’t want to share their material lists? Dennis says the key is strong supplier partnerships, where both sides recognize the mutual benefits of compliance. “There are a lot of companies out there who say, oh, we'll never get the data,” he says. “Seagate has been doing it for nine years, and they at any particular time they can claim to have over 98 percent of the data they need to test for compliance. So they're a testament that it works.”


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