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For corporations engaged in global activities, responding to new environmental regulations is an urgent requirement. - for example, the European Union's RoHS Directive, which comes into effect in July 2006, and the WEEE Directive, which requires the separate collection and recycling of used products.
Hitachi started in 1998 to take steps toward the complete elimination of the targeted substances. And now we have gone a step beyond the idea of simply complying with environmental regulations.
We think that if we create versatile and robust mechanisms, we can not only compensate the costs of a series of activities but also generate new value.
We took a new look at the concept of manufacturing in the entire Hitachi Group, and in 2004 adopted "Environmental CSR-Compliant Monozukuri (PLM and Total SCM) Standards" (PLM for product lifecycle management, and SCM for supply chain management).
We are applying this idea to the entire life cycle of products (both hardware and software) and services. - by clarifying the duties and key points for the environment in each process of corporate activities. - including management, planning, design and development, procurement, manufacturing, distribution, use, recycling, and waste disposal. In the midst of all that, the system we created with a view to dealing with chemical substances was the Integrated Management System for Chemical Substances Contained in Products. In terms of chemical substances, in this system there are 13 groups of prohibited substances, including lead and cadmium, and 12 groups of controlled substances, including antimony and arsenic, etc.
Entering the necessary data into this system at each process, allows integrated data management and product traceability. - it includes not only the management information on materials and ingredients used, but also integrates purchasing information of materials and parts.
Integrated Management System for Chemical Substances Contained in Products
Behind the creation of such a system was the diversity of business activities in the Hitachi Group. The Hitachi Group is comprised of about 1,100 companies in an extremely wide range of business sectors, from advanced materials and components, to consumer products and infrastructure systems for society. In one year Hitachi Group handles over 1.5 million types of parts, and procures parts and materials from over 7,000 suppliers worldwide. At the same time Hitachi is a supplier of products for many other companies.
This is a complex situation, and in order to have proper management of chemical substances within the Group, it was necessary to create a completely new structure, considering the flow of everything, including products and services. It is not easy to imagine the scale of this system, but once the system is in place, data gradually accumulate, and ultimately this will become the strength of Hitachi. Once the system is functioning smoothly, it will be possible to share some of this know-how with other companies.
Toshihiro Tsukishima Production Planning Department, Disk Array Systems Division, Hitachi, Ltd.
Here we examine a concrete example in the Disk Array Systems Division, where the system has already been installed. RAID is the acronym for Redundant Arrays of Inexpensive Disks, and it is a system that uses technology to manage multiple hard disks and combine them into one unit. This is being used as a storage system to accumulate huge amounts of data, by companies and organizations that support the infrastructure of the information society, such as airlines, finance, energy, medical, and government. Hitachi storage products using this system are being used by companies around the world, including the United States and Europe. It is a collection of hard disk drives. Because this product is customized depending on the needs of each customer, it is difficult to get an exact number, but each model will contain about 2,000 kinds of parts. At the design stage, parts that are not on the Hitachi Group's prohibited substances list will be selected and approved from a list of suppliers.
When the parts are received, we receive data about the parts from the suppliers, as well as a declaration stating that the parts contain no substances subject to controls. Then, using those parts, the Section in charge of manufacturing makes a product.
For the finished product, a unique manufacturing number and all the parts data are attached to the record, and all the data is centralized by a newly established system. Then, the chemical substance content of not only the parts but also the entire product can be calculated, and after confirming that it does not exceed the regulated limits, it can be delivered to the customer. Later, when the customer makes changes to the product, such as expansion or maintenance, on each occasion the data can be recorded and updated.
At the Disk Array Systems Division, since April 2005 we have started a phase-in period for the new system. In June 2005 we started introducing the system to Group companies, and by June 2006, we aim to complete the process. When all companies in the Group are using the system, there will probably be 3,000 to 4,000 people per day using it on average. If you total the inputs of each person, it will be easy to see the amount of chemical substances were used by the entire Hitachi Group. Meanwhile, if a problem arises, within 48 hours we will be able to determine the extent of impacts.
Through this system, it will be possible to verify Hitachi's activities. In that sense, We think that we have gotten closer to what society expects of us. As for the challenge to increase transparency, we will develop and sell products that do not contain hazardous substances, and these will accelerate Hitachi's environmental activities.
(Published in July 2005)
(Environmental CSR Monozukuri Project Members, Hitachi Group)