What unites a refrigerator, television, computer, smartphone, HVAC, the Internet, and your automobile?
They all run-on electricity, and they are vulnerable to electromagnetic (EMP) pulse attacks, like the one depicted in Ocean’s Eleven that rendered the whole city of Las Vegas without electricity.
The EMP attack in the movie was deliberate. It was staged to damage the power grid. In real life, however, EMP is more frequently produced by natural events, or non-standard, poor-quality electronic equipment.
Natural Sources of EMP
The sun is the most powerful source of EMP in our solar system.
“A geomagnetic storm triggered by a burst of solar energy could overwhelm the nation’s power grid and shut down cell towers and communication networks,” reported by NBC in June 2017.
Besides the sun, lightning, Aurore Borealis, and even volcanic eruptions can trigger powerful electromagnetic waves that interfere with the normal functioning of computers, transformers, and other electronic tools.
Manmade Sources of EMP
Your mobile phone, TV, and tablet PC also release electromagnetic waves. When they are powerful, the waves can interfere with the functioning of another equipment.
Here is an experiment most of us must have done when we were children: Bring a magnet close to your TV screen and see what happens. A rainbow appears. Magnetism interferes with the working of your TV screen.
The EM waves radiating out of your electronic equipment act as a source or electromagnetic interference. Your equipment needs protection if you have more than one gadget at home. Or your neighbor is into CB radio, or even if you live near power transmission lines.
If you are a manufacturer, how do you assure your customers that your equipment will work without interference in the functioning of some other manufacturer’s electronics? And, that it will work properly in the presence of interference from other devices in the area?
Enter Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) Testing
In most jurisdictions, laws exist to control the emission of electromagnetic waves radiating out of a piece of electronic equipment and to ensure that an electronic tool can function normally in the presence of several electromagnetic phenomena.
In fact, regulatory bodies have placed limits on the levels of emissions that can be generated by electronic and electrical products. The purpose of EMC testing is to ensure regulations are being followed.
Manufacturers must EMC testing before launching their equipment. All countries have regulations regarding electromagnetic interference (EMI). As part of the CE Mark scheme, the EU also regulates electromagnetic Compatibility EMC), the ability to withstand interference.
Serve Healthcare and Military
Adhering to EMC standards can be the difference between life and death in several industries. A plane’s computer cannot be allowed to fail because of a lightning strike. A military commander needs the radio to work even when it is surrounded by hundreds of electric fields. Similarly, a pacemaker has to continue working when a mobile phone is put in the upper left pocket.
The space around us is filled with electromagnetic waves, and electronic products should be able to perform without being adversely affected by them. EMC testing ensures durability and better functionality.
Sell in More Markets
EMC testing is mandatory for nearly all devices. Non-compliance with the rules can result in your products being taken out of the market and you being slapped with a fine. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the agency entrusted with regulating EMC in the U.S., can even start legal proceedings against you.
EMC Testing is a long-term investment. It is mandatory for certain products, and successful results allow manufacturers and importers to sell their product in multiple markets. The testing also allows manufacturers to improve the quality of their equipment and succeed in a competitive market.