EMC Pre-compliance testing – is it really worth doing it ourselves?
As an OEM, there is no way of getting around EMC compliance. If you want to get your product to market, then you’ll need to pass EMC compliance testing. There are no exceptions.
EMC testing can be one of the most expensive and time-consuming elements of the product development process. The consequences of failure can compound this – going back to the drawing board with the design process is expensive both in terms of actual costs and also time lost in taking the product to market.
So why do 50% of products fail EMC testing the first time round?* According to US company Intertek Testing Services, the main causes of failure at the first attempt (based on their experiences with a wide variety of equipment suppliers) are as follows:
- Lack of knowledge of EMC principles
- Failure to apply EMC principles
- Application of incorrect EMC regulations
- Unpredicted interactions among circuit elements
- Incorporation of non-compliant modules or subassemblies into the final product
So whilst there’s no way of guaranteeing a pass, there are a number of steps that you can take to at least reduce or minimise the risk.
Better by design…
A first step to improving your chances of passing EMC compliance testing is to build compliance into the design process. This will require a level of awareness-raising and training for your staff, which will need to be continually maintained due to the constantly shifting sands of EMC regulation, but it’s a relatively low-cost quick win with long-term benefits.
To test or not to test?
Where a product (or one or more of its constituent components) have not been through the EMC testing process before, pre-compliance testing is something you should seriously consider. Although it won’t guarantee that your product will sail through compliance testing, it could identify potential problems which you can work on correcting before finally submitting your product for compliance.
With pre-compliance testing you have two choices: getting it done in an accredited lab or doing it yourself.
Is it worth it for us?
There’s no general one-size-fits-all answer to this. The decision can only be made by looking at your own circumstances in detail and tailoring a solution to your individual needs. Certain points will need to be taken into consideration such as the sector of the market you’re operating in, the size of your company and consequently how much resource (in terms of both financial budget and people on the ground) you’re able to commit to the process. You’ll need to find out whether the cost of investing in the necessary pre-compliance equipment will work out more cost effective than getting it done in an accredited lab, and then balance these expenses against the financial and time costs of a potential failure at the compliance stage.
Remember that if budgets are tight, or if you’re not sure that you want to make a long-term commitment to pre-compliance testing, there’s always the option of renting / leasing equipment, or looking at the pre-owned market.
The prospect of doing your own pre-compliance testing may seem pretty daunting, so it’s worth doing your research first and getting some expert advice.
Where do MCS fit in?
As consultants in EMC and distributors of EMC test equipment we are able to advise you on all aspects of compliance and pre-compliance testing. We have great working partnerships with a number of EMC equipment manufacturers such as Com-Power - specialising in both compliance and pre-compliance - which makes us a valuable source of impartial advice and also gives us access to a wealth of EMC experts to help find the best solution for your needs.
- * Why 50% of Products Fail EMC Testing the First Time - Intertek Testing Services NA, Inc.