Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) is regarded as a long-term investment by many manufacturers. This provides valuable evidence. Showing that a product is compliant with established EMC regulations and directives. Electronic devices have the potential of emitting and being vulnerable to electromagnetic fields. Excessive numbers of electronic devices are apparent in the lives of the global population. This provides the capacity for the various devices to impede upon each other. Regulatory authorities have thus stated that electrical products or installations need compliance. And cannot be recognised as completed unless all aspects related to EMC testing are considered.
This factor is not only important for commonly used products. Such as computers, television units, washing machines among others. It is also incorporated into hi-tech and sensitive products with a particular sensitivity to EMC influences. These include:
- Large industrial installations
EMC testing simulates the interaction between electrical and electronic equipment. The testing permits the observation of any adverse interaction. Whilst it is operating within the same environment. These testing procedures must be conducted by a leading EMC Testing centre. Here is a little light humour about EMC and the perception and confusion that arises.
WARNING: The following YouTube videos may contain coarse or strong language.
Real-life importance of EMC Testing
The reason why EMC Testing is so important was noted in popular mainstream television audiences back decades ago! The importance has become ever so more important with more electronic equipment around us, all working in close proximity.
Skip to 1 minute and 7 seconds to see the effect!
The video is a bit of light humour of what possibly could happen in the real world. But EMC testing has it’s roots throughout history, with some disastrous consequences. During naval history, there have been documented two very well known incidents. The USS Forestal and the British Naval ship the HMS Sheffield. The aircraft carrier USS Forestal had a fire in 1967 that resulted in 134 people were killed. The root causes an improper connector termination. Whilst a radar scanned across the aircraft carrier’s deck it cause a missile to fire.
The video above and the picture below illustrate why EMC testing is important.
The Advantages of performing EMC Testing
Following a successful testing program. Any manufacturer can have the confidence that the reliability of their products will be increased. This has the spin-off effect of stimulating brand loyalty, reducing warranty issues and servicing costs. EMC testing has the capacity of highlighting any potential issues with the product. Thus, it can be remedied before the production starts. There are advantages of having access to sophisticated Electromagnetic Compatibility test equipment. As this can provide long-term manufacturing and supportive benefits for a product. It is common knowledge that EMC testing is highly recommended. And generically required to support “Conformité Européene” (CE marking) in the European Union. It’s also mandatory when needing to meet other strict protocols. Including the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) in the USA. It has been a usual practice for EMC testing to be conducted at a specialist laboratory. But, at the end of a project! This has caused the question regarding the results of a failed test. The International Federation of Inspection Agencies (IFIA) conducted market studies during 2012-2014. This relates to selected domestic products, obtained from various European countries. Results determined that of the 247 samples submitted, a total of 78% did not comply with the standards and regulations set by the European Union. It is, therefore, realistic to accept various estimates that about 50% of projects fail at the final step. And radiated emission is frequently being the foremost reason!
The Financial Scenario and impact of EMC Testing
The financial losses occasioned by failed EMC testing present a horrific scenario for designers. This can follow a triumphant and traumatic period when a product has been completed that is shown to meet consumer demands. Although the design team are highly confident that it is not influenced by external sources. And the energy radiated is small; it can still fail in the all-important EMC testing. Coupled with the high testing costs already incurred, a budget will be severely extended by the need for re-testing the product. It is now incumbent on engineers to investigate the issues and their origin from EMC testing. This is made challenging by the complete integration of the components. Thus, it is recognised that this scenario could be avoided. By using pre-compliance testing being integrated into a project from its start. A popular concept in the software testing industry is to introduce testing at an earlier stage in the development cycle. Similarly, this scenario is being considered by the electronics industry. On the surmise that investigating emissions from a device during each primary development level. Will be the most effective method of avoiding costly re-testing and high rates of failure.
The importance of Early Analysis Effects EMC testing
Conducting an early analysis of the product’s electronics content can also motivate decisions related to the system. It, thus, confirms that EMC testing not only relates to the electronics factor. But also to any system and mechanical modifications that may be required. These modifications can include adding electromagnetic interference (EMI) shields. EMC foam to fill any leaks or spaces in an enclosure and removing non-conductive coatings from enclosures/boxes. There are various advantages related to the pre-compliance of testing apart from the early detection of any faults. The earlier the defects in the product are detected in the development process, the easier it is to rectify them. This is supported by the fact that any identified potential causes of concern can be solved at an early stage. It has been determined that the risk of failure in a design is generally related to the length of time the EMC testing procedure has been delayed. Accordingly, engineers who leave the testing of a project to its conclusion. Are in effect, dependent on the skills and experience of the design team.
Avoiding Potential Hazards using EMC testing
Those design engineers requesting a pre-compliance EMC testing service will be aware of the potential hazards. During the development of a product and understand why EMC Testing is Important. An example of this is that testing in the development process with evaluation or strip boards. This will provide a designer with the option of incorporating preventative measures. By way of further circuitry, designed as a protection against potential issues. “Over-engineering” is a factor that can be prevented by EMC testing. And this is proven very cost-effective. An example of this aspect was from Henry Ford who sent his engineers on a mission to examine Ford cars in scrap yards. This exercise was designed to determine which components still had considerable usage left in them. Due to over-engineering. This enabled his engineers to reduce the specifications of these components, with a resultant saving in costs. By comparison, this action can be completed with EMC testing to improve a Bill of Materials (BOM) cost. The early EMC testing procedure reduces over-engineering. And ensures that a product can confidently be compliance-tested. Prior to a test, it is not known if or where problems and issues may occur. This can potentially motivate additional counter-measures when they are not required.