Saturday, June 25, 2016

Britain after Brexit, with the accent on EMC

Editor's Note (Updated June 27, 2016): Britain has voted to leave the European Union, a monumental decision that’s triggering some serious alarm bells throughout the country. As it stands, many UK laws and regulations are determined by EU legislation and it’s not immediately clear what the EMC standards ramifications in Britain will be during the two year transition and in the future after that.

There’s still a long road ahead, and many of the concerns expressed by the EMC standards community are likely to be addressed in the coming negotiations. Panic is obviously not the way to go, and to understand the issues with more clarity, I've asked John Woodgate and Keith Armstrong, product regulations/EMC consultants and standards experts in England, to provide some initial analysis. Both of these consultants are based in England, so have a unique perspective as events unfold. As the transition takes place, you can depend on Interference Technology to help inform and clarify the issues as the transition progresses.

In the meantime, we would invite your comments on the issue. See below.

K. Wyatt

Britain after Brexit, with the accent on EMC - Part 1

by John M. Woodgate, BSc(Eng) C.Eng MIET SMIEEE FAES HonFInstSCE

(June 24, 2016) - What is the future for Britain after the historic 'Brexit' vote to leave the European Union? It's very early days – as early as you can get, in fact – but there are some signs. Controlling factors can be described as 'Dame Luck and the Lame Duck'.  Dame Luck is market sentiment, always volatile but in this case reason appears to be holding. The British stock market bubbled up before the vote, so the post-vote fall has really returned the market to where it was ten days ago. The Lame Duck is Prime Minister David Cameron, who says he will resign, but not till October, so until then the government will be hamstrung, both at home and abroad.

This may not matter if enough of British industry takes advantage of the drop in the value of the pound sterling to combat rising material costs by increasing export sales. There are always some with enough insight (and low enough debt) to do that. Every economic change allows someone to make money, and it doesn't have to be bankers. The EU leaders are pressing for a quick resolution, perhaps even shorter than the two-year period embedded in the treaties. That is likely to benefit industry, especially if British leaders use that appeal for speed to toughen their negotiations.

So what does this mean for EMC? We are in the age of world markets, so obviously British industry will continue to fulfil all significant market entry requirements, such as respecting EU Directives and applying European standards (ENs). If Britain joins EFTA (European Free Trade Association), it will continue to participate in CEN and CENELEC, but with changed voting rights. If it doesn't join, it can choose whether to apply EU Directives (or a variant thereof) and CEN/CENELEC or ISO/IEC/CISPR standards, whichever is advantageous. ETSI standards are a different matter, while ETSI is nominally and originally 'European Telecommunication Standards Institute', it is de facto an independent non-governmental body, with world-wide activity, and there seems no reason why anything should change regarding British participation.

Of course, all this could be wildly wrong, and disasters forecast by the 'Remain' faction may happen. But most events are not beyond our control. We just have to be clever enough to control them correctly.

Britain after Brexit, with the accent on EMC - Part 2

by Keith Armstrong, Consultant, Cherry Clough Consultants Ltd.

Yes it is big news, but I don't feel that I have anything very significant to say about how the issues you mention might be affected.

All I can say is that, from my point of view as a design consultant, whatever country I am working in (most recently Australia, New Zealand, Belgium and England, UK) if my customers want to sell to the EU they must declare compliance to all relevant EU Directives and most find that easiest to do by declaring that they have applied all the relevant standards that have been notified under those Directives in the OJEU. 

As far as I can see, this process and its associated documentation is exactly the same for any country in the world that is outside the EU – as it is for manufacturers in Belgium and in the UK (both of whom are currently Member States within the EU).

I suppose that if the UK actually left the EU (which is by no means a certainty, and anyway would most likely take 2 or more years to happen) UK experts would no longer be involved with creating EN standards. But as EN standards are mostly based on international standards anyway, and UK experts would still be involved on those international committees, I don't see any big changes happening.

It is interesting to note that even though the UK is still a Member State within the EU, it has not yet published National Regulations corresponding to the new EMC or LV Directives which came into force on 20th April 2016 (2104/30/EU and 2014/35/EU respectively). 

Normally we in the UK would have seen draft UK Regulations at least a year in advance of the date when new EU Directives required National Regulations to be enforced, but not this time.

Quite possibly this same situation applies to all the other EU Directives which came into force on that date, too.

I am told that enquiries by others were told by the responsible UK government departments that they were waiting for the outcome of the referendum.  

So it is already the case that manufacturers in the UK have National Regulations that are not harmonized with the corresponding EU Directives, just like manufacturers in China, Japan, the USA, or anywhere else outside the EU!

Our Top Five Articles

Hi Everyone! I wanted to introduce myself as the new senior technical editor for Interference Technology. I spent the early part of my career in the aerospace industry as a design engineer and the last 20+ years as an EMC engineer, test center manager, and EMC lead for Hewlett-Packard and later the spin-off, Agilent Technologies. In 2008, I “retired myself” early and started a consulting business helping other companies with their EMC compliance issues, as well as provide training in EMC, troubleshooting, and pre-compliance testing. I’ll be continuing as a consultant while providing editorial direction.

 I started subscribing to Interference Technology in 1972, just a year after Robert Goldblum started the publication. I was still attending college at the time, but was always impressed with the technical content of what was then called Interference Technology Engineers Master (ITEM). This was also well before I had any inkling I’d spend most of my career in EMC. Now here I am honored to be editing the same publication!

Those of you who may have been following my past scribblings are probably aware I blogged for for nearly three years on various aspects of EMC testing, product reviews, and pre-compliance testing. Since taking on the role of editor for Interference Technology, I felt I ought to turn that job over to my good friend and colleague, Arturo (Art) Mediano, professor at the University of Zaragosa (Spain) and an accomplished EMC consultant and trainer. Check out my past blogs and Art's newest postings at The EMC Blog. I'd like to thank Martin Rowe, and the other editorial staff at UBM for their past support.

The top five articles in Interference Technology

Shortly after I joined ITEM Media and started editing Interference Technology, I decided, with the help of the staff, to compile and rank all our past technical articles from 2005 to present. I was hoping to determine the most popular topics as determined by reader "clicks". I thought knowing this would help me determine what readers feel is most engaging. Some of these topics include EMC basics, product design for compliance, EMC standards updates, and military EMC.

For this initial posting, I'd like to point you to our five most popular technical articles published in Interference Technology. Please enjoy them!

1. The HF current probe: theory and application - Kenneth Wyatt

2. New EMC requirements for commercial avionics: RTCA/DO-160F - Eric Bergstrom

Interference Technology has always had great technical content for the EMC professional and my vision is to continue that, as well as publish basic information on product design and pre-compliance measurement techniques for those product designers that may not have a formal education in electromagnetic compatibility. If you’re interested in contributing technical articles to Interference Technology, check out the Editorial Contributions link at the bottom of our web site and feel free to drop me an email with your proposal.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Troubleshooting EMI Seminar with Lee Hill: Interview

By Senior Technical Editor, Kenneth Wyatt.

This interview was conducted on Dec 9th, 2015 in anticipation of the upcoming Troubleshooting EMI with Lee Hill: Identify, Characterize, and Prevent Interference Problems Seminar Tour hosted by Rohde & Schwarz and Interference Technology.

The tour is running from March 10-24, 2016 in five different cities - Austin, TX; Irvine, CA; Milpitas, CA; Livonia, MI; and Chelmsford, MA. Attendance for the seminar is free, and engineers can reserve a place now by signing up online HERE.

Contact with any questions.

Kenneth Wyatt: What changes in technology are driving today’s EMC issues?

Lee Hill: One observation is that it’s easier for cheaper, smaller things to run fast. The other is that more products are networked or incorporating wireless technologies. An example is home exercise equipment – in the past these devices were purely mechanical. Today, exercise equipment you bring into your home is now loaded with electronics, variable speed motor drives, networking capability, and even video and audio entertainment. Many low-end appliances are full of high-speed stuff.

There’s also such a high-level integration of silicon. Single ICs can contain high-speed video, Wi-Fi, RFID, etc., all in the silicon. Other products I’ve worked on include drones and all the remote control aspects of real-time flight. Wireless self-interference (digital noise reducing on-board receiver sensitivity) has also been more of an issue.

There’s been a revolution in silicon design and simulation for EMC outside the U.S. – especially in vehicular design. I think the silicon has gotten so much better that system-level radiated emissions, radiated immunity, and ESD have improved dramatically over the years.

KW: What do you find are the top product design issues that are experienced?

LH: The top design issues really depend on who you’re talking to. IC manufacturers might say a different set of problems is their main EMC nemesis.

In the area of EMC, the common problem is a lack of understanding of EMC engineering fundamentals – for example, identifying dipole antennas (antenna structures that can radiate) and coupling paths. Generally, engineers can identify the source and victim, but they have no clue where to go from there.

KW: About the Troubleshooting EMI Seminar with Lee Hill sponsored by Rohde & Schwarz, I think it’s great you’ll be presenting in so many cities around the U.S. It seems you’ll be hitting some of the top tech areas on both coasts and in the Midwest.

LH: Looking forward to it! (Tour dates will take place in Austin, TX; Irvine, CA; Milpitas, CA; Livonia, MI; and Chelmsford, MA.)

KW: Why is Rohde & Schwarz doing this now?

LH: That’s a great question, and I have asked Faride Akretch, Segment Marketing Manager of Rohde & Schwarz, to respond:

Faride Akretch: We want to provide value to our customers. And besides compelling products, we also deliver educational content and activities on a regular basis. Those can be application notes, white papers or customer trainings like this one. Sometimes these seminars are being held in person, or virtually like our sponsorship and participation in EMC Live hosted by Interference Technology. We’ve identified a real need for an increased focus on EMC and EMC pre-compliance. It seems that with so much integration, EMC failures have become more difficult to understand and that customers want and need to dig deeper as to where possible interferers are originating from.

KW: One more question for Faride Akretch. Are there changes in measurement technology that is driving this Troubleshooting EMI Seminar with Lee Hill?

FA: As part of the Seminar, we will be highlighting some newer real-time tools that allow visualization of the spectrum yielding a very powerful EMI diagnostic capability. We’ll also be including probing solutions and how to approach testing and EMC pre-compliance tests.

KW: And now Lee Hill, while many of the EMC compliance tests continue to specify a standard EMI receiver or swept spectrum analyzer as dictated by the standards, real time analysis has become much more affordable. Will you be incorporating some of this newer measurement technology in your presentations?

LH: Yes, we’ll be demonstrating how to use real-time spectrum analysis to help identify issues that otherwise would be completely hidden.

KW: So, why should product designers attend these seminars? Why is this subject important?

LH: Some of the important takeaways would include discovering tools they were unaware that existed, learn why these tools are so incredible and useful, learn how to use them, and to have fun watching them be used.

KW: Finally, I know your courses include lots of real-time demonstrations. Will you be able to do the same for this seminar?

LH: The seminar will contain live demonstrations (not prerecorded video) of EMC measurements and troubleshooting ideas using measurement tools and real-life products that are familiar to EMC engineers and representative of commonly encountered noise problems in industry.

Registration for this free seminar is open now. For more information and to register for a date, CLICK HERE.

Lee Hill is an industry expert in electromagnetic compatibility and founding partner of SILENT Solutions LLC, an EMC and RF design firm established in 1992. Lee provides EMC troubleshooting services, design reviews, and training to a wide variety of industries nationally and around the world and also is a member of the adjunct faculty at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) where he teaches graduate-level classes in EMC. Lee also teaches at the University of Oxford (England), and for the IEEE EMC Society’s annual Global University and EMC Fundamentals program. He earned his MSEE in electromagnetics from the Missouri University of Science and Technology EMC Laboratory.