What is EMC for Functional Safety?

These days, there are many more potential risks from malfunctioning electronics, so we are tending to give this new safety engineering topic names like: "Risk Management with regard to Electromagnetic Disturbances" instead.

The current state of the art is described in: 
"IEEE 1848-2020 - IEEE Approved Draft Techniques & Measures to Manage Functional Safety and Other Risks With Regard to Electromagnetic Disturbances"
purchase from 

The final version is expected to be published as a full IEEE Standard during April 2021.

Also of interest is
the IET’s 2017 Code of Practice on Electromagnetic Resilience
purchase from: https://shop.theiet.org/code-of-practice-for-electromagnetic-resilience
This is the direct successor to the IET’s free 2013 guide:
Overview of techniques and measures related to EMC for Functional Safety

Modern digital electronics have far too many digital states to be fully tested, and partial testing cannot predict what will happen when untested digital states occur.

This means that additional verification / validation methods must be used to ensure that – when modern electronic systems are used in critical equipment – they should not suffer errors, malfunctions or failures that could cause functional safety risks (or other kinds of risks) to exceed tolerable / acceptable levels throughout their entire lifecycles.

Electromagnetic disturbances can cause electromagnetic interference (EMI) in any electronic systems.

Military, defence, and national security experts have, over decades, developed a successful approach to dealing with the risks that could be caused by EMI when modern electronics are used in critical systems. This approach relies upon rugged, high-specification electromagnetic mitigation (shielding, filtering, transient/surge suppression, etc.) that is competently maintained throughout its operational lifecycle to continue to provide sufficient protection from external electromagnetic disturbances.

IEEE Std 1848:2020 and the IET’s 2017 Code of Practice both describe the first practical methods of ensuring that EMI should not cause modern digital systems to suffer from intolerable / unacceptable risks without the increased size, weight and costs associated with the above approach. They replace the IET’s 2008 “Guide on EMC for Functional Safety”, which did not describe a practical alternative.

Medical devices and systems
The new practical approach in IEEE Std 1848 is being considered by the IEC for inclusion in the IEC 60601-4 series of guidance documents. Contact Keith Armstrong for more on this keith.armstrong@cherryclough.com.

Our qualifications and some useful resources

Click here for a general introduction to EMC for functional safety, as published in In Compliance magazine (3MB, PDF).

Keith Armstrong of Cherry Clough Consultants Ltd is the initiator and chair of the IET’s Working Group on EMC and Functional Safety and is the UK’s appointed expert on the IEC 61000-1-2 (EMC and Functional Safety) and IEC 60601-1-2 (medical EMC) standards committees. He also chairs the IEEE Standards project P1848 on their new standard "IEEE Standard Pracrice for Techniques and Measures to Manage Risks with Regard to Electromagnetic Disturbances".

Keith is a prime mover in this field, and has been writing and presenting on it all over the world since 2000, including major international symposia such as the IEEE International EMC Symposia and the IEEE International Product Safety Engineering Society Symposium. Visit https://www.emcstandards.co.uk/emiemc-risk-management for lots of detail on this increasingly important safety issue.

How we can help

Because of our long association with EMC for Functional Safety, and our qualifications above, we are very well placed to help you control this issue in the most cost-effective way, using modern good safety engineering practices to reduce safety risks and exposure to liability claims.

We can provide training, and assistance with design and procedures for ‘EMC for Functional Safety’, for…

  • Components and modules
  • Products, appliances, instruments, etc.,
  • Vehicles (land, rail, sea, air, space, etc.)
  • Custom designed equipment, machinery, plant
  • Systems
  • 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
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