The value of in-house testing
Testing is not a mandatory requirement for legal compliance with the EMC and/or LVD Directives — but testing is usually the lowest-cost way to demonstrate compliance. Testing can be done at independent test laboratories, and you can also do it yourself (D-I-Y).
In-house testing is almost always much more cost-effective than testing at an independent test laboratory. The cost of the test equipment and the staff training is not insignificant, but the payback time for the investment is usually less than a year.
Many companies are now set-up to do low-cost in-house testing for EMC and for safety, with occasional visits to independent test laboratories when an accurate test or independent pass report is required (usually for marketing purposes or sales outside of the EU).
Having some reasonable in-house test facilities for EMC and for safety aids the design and development process – designers can try out ideas earlier in a project when the costs of changes are lower, and this can make a huge difference to the cost of compliance.
One company found that its £170,000 investment in in-house EMC testing achieved payback in three months for this very reason (two years had been forecast based on saving test lab fees). £170,000 buys a very nice EMC testing set-up, with a ferrite-lined chamber and excellent test equipment.
If you are prepared to spend more time on each test, can accept less accuracy, and have an areas of open ground or a large flat rooftop available for an open-are test site, a good suite of EMC test equipment can cost under £30,000 – but useful EMC testing can be done with an investment of just a few thousand Pounds (the lowest-cost spectrum analyser costs around £500).
Safety test gear generally costs much less than EMC test gear of the same overall quality, and doesn’t need a test chamber.
How we can help
We have helped many companies to set-up in-house EMC and/or safety test facilities, trained their staff in how to do the tests, and helped write their test procedures.
We can also train staff in how to use their test equipment to diagnose the causes of EMC test or field failures, and how to fix them.
We have also helped many companies to do on-site tests (on their own factory floor, or at their customers’ sites). On-site testing can be quite accurate if done according to a procedure that takes the imperfections of the test site into account, and Keith Armstrong wrote the on-site test procedure published by the EMC Test Labs Association in its Technical Guidance Notes.
We can provide assistance with EMC and safety testing for…
- Components and modules
- Products, appliances, instruments, etc.,
- Vehicles (land, rail, sea, air, space, etc.)
- Custom designed equipment, machinery, plant
- Installations (buildings, campuses, factories, theatres, hospitals: any structure or site)
…of any type, any size, for any application (including safety-critical, nuclear and military).
We speak plain English engineering language.
Our aim has always been to transfer our knowledge and experience to your own personnel, to get them up their learning curve quickly with the lowest costs, so they don’t repeat the costly mistakes that so many people have already made.
We recognise that design consultants like ourselves are not inexpensive to employ, so we aim to minimise what you spend on us. This means we are always trying to make ourselves redundant, so you need us less and less as your personnel’s expertise increases.
It costs much less overall to employ our training or expertise early in a project to help prevent problems from arising at all, or to fix any problems as soon as they appear.
How we work with customers
Download Non-disclosure agreement (Word document 36K)