EMC advice and guidance

EMC design, test and management services

A major problem, which afflicts both large and small firms, is that EMC is a foreign subject: because it is so often determined by the electrical performance of mechanical components, it easily falls down the cracks between these two disciplines.

RF electromagnetic phenomena depend on physical layout and stray, unintentional features like proximity of conductors and gaps in housings. Because product complexity means that unexpected interactions can and do occur, EMC has earned itself the name of a "black art". This is not actually so - all the processes involved have a solid physical foundation. But to get to grips with them calls for extra clarity in understanding.

In these circumstances, the engineering approach is to call in expertise in the subject, to guide the resident designers towards the right solution. This needs someone who has specialised in EMC but has a background in design. That's where Elmac Services - the UK's premier EMC consultancy - comes in.

Design reviews are a regular feature of our work. The best time to ensure EMC requirements are dealt with is in the initial stages of design. We can offer you one-off reviews or an ongoing relationship, whichever you prefer.

A lot can be done by e-mail. We are familiar with Cadstar, Altium, Mentor Graphics, Cadence Allegro, Proteus, Easy-PC and other PCB layout/schematic capture software and can look through your PCB designs without needing a visit. Comments are returned by e-mail. For this we can charge an hourly rate for the work. We also have the ability to do some pre-compliance measurements and tests, though we're not a test house. And, because we've been working with test facilities for many years, we can advise you on putting together the optimum in-house test facility for your products.

Here are examples of some of the projects we've taken on:
A manufacturer of hand tools was experiencing dramatic and unexplained variations in the conducted emissions from samples of one of its products. Elmac Services investigated the problem, discovered the cause and made recommendations for solving it - saving the client weeks in blind testing.

A large company wanted to establish its own EMC test facility for compliance testing of its product range.
Elmac Services suggested the buying list for equipment, costed and evaluated the alternatives, supervised setting up the facility, wrote the test procedures and trained a select handful of staff in doing the tests - who then passed on their knowledge to their colleagues.

A small company making a transducer device for marine applications were faced with a need for a tenfold increase in RF immunity due to new certification requirements.
Elmac Services redesigned the unit's interface, built some pre-production samples and had them tested for compliance (they passed with flying colours) and gave the company back a certificate and the new design drawings.

An automotive parts manufacturer was developing an innovative new product which they knew would be EMC-hostile but would have to meet stringent requirements at a low cost.
Elmac Services acted as an external design review advisor for the project, making sure that early design decisions weren't such as would cause problems when compliance testing began.

An instrumentation company with very little experience of electronics had to make their system with a bought-in control  board compliant to a much more stringent EMC spec to meet the demands of a new market.
Elmac Services designed a screening and filtering solution which meant that they could carry on using the same board with no other mechanical or electrical design changes.

It's not always regulatory compliance: a manufacturer of oilfield down-hole communications had to make a telemetry system work with very low received signal strength in the presence of a high-voltage switchmode supply. This challenging task was eventually successful with the help of
Elmac's expertise in shielding and filtering.
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Consultancy and training in electromagnetic compatibility