The importance of electromagnetic compatibility

Electromagnetic compatibility is an important issue in engineering and society today and is set to become increasingly relevant as computer and electronic technology advances.

This is a relatively recent concept and its birth is linked to the large-scale diffusion of electronic equipment and their use in different types of environments.

What is electromagnetic compatibility?

This is the discipline that ensures that electronic devices operate correctly in a given environment and in proximity to other devices.
Before the mass diffusion of electronic equipment, radio receivers and transmitters operated in environments where potential interference came only from natural sources such as lightning, and almost nothing was done to minimize their susceptibility to external disturbances or to limit emissions.
When more and more artificial sources of disturbance began to appear, we focused on the aspects of electromagnetic compatibility, to investigate and study the malfunctions that the equipment often presented.

This discipline acquired particular importance already during the Second World War, when military ships were equipped with complex and powerful electronic equipment, such as communication systems, radars and missiles, placed close to each other.

Cases of malfunctioning of equipment, sensitive to electromagnetic interference, intensified and scientists applied themselves to the analysis and solution of these problems.
The discovery of the causes of these phenomena has led to the indication of warnings and practices aimed at eliminating the problems.

Based on these experiences, in all industrialized countries, regulations have been created to limit the problems caused by interference between electrical and electronic equipment in use.

In the United States electromagnetic compatibility tests they are so important that they are regulated by federal law.

L'FCC (Federal Communication Commission) is the body that manages the rules and regulations relating to electromagnetic emissions from devices marketed in the United States, whether they are intentional emitters such as radio transmitters, or unintentional emitters such as other equipment that internally uses radio frequency signals to their functioning.

In Europe there is unified legislation on this matter, governed by Directive 2014/30/EU EMC.

The EMC Directive 2014/30/EU

The purpose of the standard is to ensure that the environment is acceptable from an electromagnetic point of view and that the equipment functions correctly.
To guarantee this, it has been established that the equipment placed on EU territory meets electromagnetic compatibility requirements shared by the member states.

Compliance with the provisions of this directive is therefore a necessary requirement that electrical and electronic equipment must have in order to be freely marketed on the European market.

Let's see in detail what the directive indicates:
Article 1 defines the object, the objective, which is precisely to ensure that equipment placed on the market complies with an adequate level of electromagnetic compatibility.
What equipment does the standard refer to?
The directive applies to any fixed appliance or system, indicated in articles 2 and 3:

  • Everything is fine finished device, or combination of finished devices, made available on the market as independent functional unit, intended for the end user and capable of generating electromagnetic disturbances, or whose operation may be affected by such disturbances;
  • A particular combination of appliances of various types and possibly other devices, which are assembled, installed and intended for permanent use in a pre-established location.

To be compliant, equipment must comply with the essential requirements established by the Directive in its Annex I, in particular they must be designed and manufactured in such a way that:

  • The electromagnetic disturbances produced do not exceed the level above which radio and telecommunications equipment or other equipment cannot function normally;
  • They present a level of immunity to electromagnetic disturbances that can be foreseen based on the use for which they are intended and which allows their normal operation without unacceptable deterioration.

Any equipment that integrates active electronic parts capable of causing disturbances or that could be subject to interference is subject to electromagnetic compatibility checks.

Even those products that traditionally did not include electrical components, but which are developing and becoming increasingly complex with technological progress, must be checked.
Just think of how many devices present in our home and working lives today are controlled by motors, electronic systems or remote controls.

All products that fall into the categories described are subject to EMC certification

In any case, a EMC tests on the product it guarantees its regular functionality over time and projects it into an increasingly technologically advanced future.

Sicom Testing offers a complete service for electromagnetic compatibility tests of the products.

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