World renowned EMC expert Keith Armstrong returns to Australia in April and May 2018 with updated EMC courses. EMC Technologies is also presenting a free RCM compliance seminar at the same time. Click the link below for details and we hope to see you there!
The first thing to say about Electromagnetic Compliance (EMC) and compatibility is that it is a complex subject. Compliance implies that manufacturers, importers, and distributors who wish to sell electrical and electronic equipment in Australia must test, certify, register, and label the equipment as compliant with Australian EMC standards.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) regulates EMC compliance standards in Australia. They have a published list of standards titled the ACMA_Standards_List
The Australia/NZ standards are in large parts similar or identical to the European standards.
Complexity arises for Australian manufacturers who wish to export their products, and for distributors who import product for sale in the Australian market.
There are different standards and requirements for different products, and there are different standards for geographical areas like the United States, Canada Europe, and Japan.
Find more details about requirements in a related article titled EMI Product Testing Australia/NZ on this blog [link]
The Basics of EMC
All electrical and electronic circuits produce electromagnetism when powered; it is fundamental law of science.There’s good news and bad news about this.
Without electromagnetism the technologies we take for granted would not exist. Power stations, including the transformers and power lines that give us electric light, household appliances, battery and mains operated gadgets of all kinds all produce electromagnetism.
Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and compliance has to do with electromagnetic energy and how it may cause electromagnetic interference (EMI) or physical damage in the environment in which it operates. A common interpretation states that “an electronic or electrical produce shall work as intended in its environment”, a fairly meaningless statement that makes no reference to standards compliance.
Radio and electronic transmissions are troublesome because of the inherent risk of interference with other electronic circuits.
What is EMC Compliance
Australian EMC regulations dictate that electrical and electronic equipment must be tested, certified, registered, and labelled as compliant to applicable standards. These standards vary between different categories of equipment.
A supplier should complete the following regulatory requirements before marketing or selling a product on the Australian market.
- Determine if the product is subject to EMC Compliance.
- Identify the applicable EMC standards listed on the ACMA database.
- Demonstrate compliance through testing conducted by an accredited testing laboratory. EMC Technologies is such a lab.
- Complete a Declaration of Conformity (DoC) that confirms the product complies with the applicable standard/s.
- Register the product on the national database.
- Apply a compliance label to the product.
The difficulty for suppliers is to correctly identify the applicable standards and there are many of them. The safest approach is to consult a NATA accredited test laboratory like EMC Technologies.
EMC Technologies is the largest and most experienced EMI/EMC/EMR and Safety testing facility with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, and New Zealand. EMC Technologies is NATA accredited (National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia).
EMC Compliance testing
The ACMA database lists applicable standards for Australia and NZ. There are different standards for different products and too complex and comprehensive to list in this post.
In essence, testing is conducted in three main classes:
- Emission. The generation of electromagnetic energy and its release into the environment.
- Susceptibility. The tendency of electrical equipment to malfunction resulting in unintended operation.
- Coupling. The way in which emitted interference reaches a victim.
The Radiated Emissions Test is the most common EMC test in all countries. It measures the strength of the electromagnetic field unintentionally emitted by a product. Switching voltages and currents in digital circuits generate such emissions. They can cause unintentional interference to mission critical military or civil systems like navigation systems or landing guidance systems for aircraft.
Let’s consider two scenarios associated with EMC and a couple of examples that illustrate the concerns of risk and the victim: The examples illustrate the risk associated with electromagnetic emission, and the victim impacted by such emission,
- An announcement made to aircraft passengers to switch off their mobile phones, laptops, and tablets reflects the risk of electromagnetic emission from such devices interfering with sensitive electronic guidance systems located on the aircraft which ensures safe landing.
- The ongoing research and debate about the risk of holding, carrying, or placing a mobile phone close to the head for prolonged periods.
In the first example, the victim is the onboard guidance system; in the second example the user of the mobile device is the victim, a human being. Unless, of course, lack of EMC causes malfunctions in the guidance system and the aircraft crashes, in which case all the passengers become victims of collateral damage.
The regulations should convince Australian consumers to buy and use only certified products. The labelling requirements make it easy to identify such products. Australian standards mandate that compliant products must be labelled with the Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM) shown below.
Contact EMC Technologies for expert advice.
It helps to start technical discussions by stating the definitions on which the discussion is based. Here are the two relevant definitions, both supplied by the Tech-Etch website.
Electrostatic interference, EMI is a process by which disruptive electromagnetic energy is transmitted from one electronic device to another via radiated or conducted paths, or both. In electronic components, EMI can adversely affect their performance.
Electronic shielding The practice of surrounding electronics and cables with conductive or magnetic materials to guard against incoming or outgoing emissions of electromagnetic frequencies.
The reasons we need EMI shielding
The use of electrical and electronic equipment has grown exponentially. As an example, mobile phone ownership and usage have exploded and the environments (frequency bands) where they operate are getting crowded. These devices use electronic transmission and the potential for EMI is huge. We are protected by the electromagnetic shielding imposed on manufacturers by international standards.
Stringent regulations largely prevent the potential effects of EMI. I use the word “largely” because uninformed and profit driven people can and will circumvent the regulations and sell uncertified and dangerous products because most countries’ regulations do not apply to exported goods.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) administers regulations that require all electrical and electronic equipment to meet prescribed standards. Manufacturers and distributors must test, certify and label their products as compliant to these standards. Any retailer who imports and sells non-compliant electronic equipment to Australian or New Zealand consumers is liable to severe penalties.
However, Australian travellers and foreign visitors can bring uncertified products which are not detected by Customs. Devices for personal use are generally exempt. Examples include mobile phones and unsafe mobile phone battery chargers.
The definition quoted states that EMI can adversely affect product performance. Illegal electronic devices can cause far worse damage than this. Let’s mention only a few examples. Risks include the effects of EMI and electrical safety, both of which regulated by stringent standards.
- At the first level there are nuisance factors. For example, an illegal and uncertified mobile phone can emit EMI that interferes with other sound systems. For example, while using the phone in a car, the user may hear his or her conversation relayed over the car radio loudspeakers. This is a simple case of illegal EMI emission.
- Fake and illegal mobile phone chargers pose serious and life threatening risks to their users. Such devices have been known to explode, cause fires, and electric shock.
- An illegal device capable of radio transmission can interfere with mission critical electronic systems. A good example is the guided electronic landing systems at airports. Imagine what could happen if it malfunctions because of electromagnetic interference from substandard and illegal handheld devices like computers, tablets, or mobile phones. The potential effect is life-threatening.
- Sticking with mobile phone, research suggests that electromagnetic emissions from mobiles can cause brain damage when held in close proximity for long periods. The only protection against this is to use certified phones with electromagnetic shielding as prescribed in appropriate Australian and NZ standards.
What is EMI shielding and how is it enforced
The truth is that many engineers who design electronic equipment are neither qualified, nor do they have the facilities and equipment to test the levels of emission in their prototype equipment. To make matters worse, they do not necessarily have expert knowledge about International and country specific standards, nor a knowledge of the testing procedures and emission levels allowed in regional or international standards.
This is where a NATA accredited test laboratories come into the picture to advise, conduct tests, and issue test reports. EMC Technologies is the largest and most experience laboratory in Australia with offices in Sydney, Melbourne, and New Zealand. They can give you expert and independent advice.
The applicable shielding techniques
Shielding is applied to device enclosures and cables. The shielding reduces the coupling of radio waves (RF shielding), and blocks electromagnetic and electrostatic fields from interfering with other electronic systems and devices.
Shielding is typically applied to enclosures and to cables. The image shown below illustrates proper coaxial cable shielding.
Enclosure shielding, applied to device enclosures or system sub-components, uses materials like sheet metal, metal screen, or metal foam. Its effectiveness depends on its size, shape, thickness, and aperture orientation.
Other shielding techniques used include:
- Metallic shields made of metal or ferrite materials.
- Electromagnetics like solenoids and coils that cancel static or low-frequency fields.
- Superconducting materials that expel magnetic fields.
- Metallic foil or braid shield to surround cables or wires to block EMI.
- Conductive paint that block the emission of electromagnetic frequencies (EMF).
- Capacitors, ferrules, and grounded wires to minimise EMI noise.
- Magnetic materials used to draw EMI into the magnetic field.
As you can see, this is very much a field for specialised engineering.
In Australia and New Zealand, EMC Technologies has a team of specially trained engineers ready to consult and offer independent compliance testing and remedial solutions for electromagnetic emissions that exceed the levels prescribed by the applicable standards. Call us now.
Fiber optics are thin flexible glass wires (or, other transparent solids) used primarily in the telecommunications industry. Fiber optical wiring simplifies data communication.
In this article, we will explain the advantages of fiber optics and how they are immune to electromagnetic interferences, making it the ideal choice for signal/data transmission. Let us begin.
#1 Electromagnetic Interference Immunity
Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) is a common property of electromagnetism where electrical current is generated along magnetic fields as they move across conductors, which modifies the current flow. The interference happens with coaxial cables but not with fiber optic cables as the signal transmission occurs through light, and not current.
It opens the potential of fiber optic cable installation in places where EMI can block signal transmission. Fiber optics are ideal for data transmission between computers.
#2 Non-Conductive Design
Fiber optic cables are often non-conductive in nature as they do not contain metals. Such cables are ideal for indoor installation, and they are economical. The same for outdoor installation is expensive as they are created with enhanced wire strength to handle environmental hazards such as lighting. A workaround on this is to install protective devices around the cables to avoid electrical surges and eliminate ground loops.
The problem with metal cables is they become a good conductor of electricity. This can create signal transmission problems even with a subtle electrical power variation. The metal wires are created assuming that the ground has a uniform potential; however, in a realistic situation, the ground voltage potential differs when cables of different potential run between the same building or different buildings.
#3 Data Security
Optical fibers do not have an external magnetic field as the electromagnetic field is contained within the fiber. Without cutting the fiber, tapping the signal transfer is impossible. The signal transfer cannot be intercepted, and therefore, fiber optics are a secure way to transfer sensitive data and maintain data protection.
In comparison, metal cables contain magnetic fields and it is easier to tap into the signal transmission and leak data. The problem can be contained by shielding the wire, but shielding is not enough.
#4 Electrical Sparks
Usually, electrical points create sparks, and it becomes extremely dangerous to transmit signals in that situation, especially when the spark occurs in areas which have oil refineries and chemical plants as the air contains explosive vapours.
A small spark could lead to a huge explosion. Installing fiber optics makes sense as current do not pass through the cables, removing the potential of any explosion or other mishaps through electrical sparks.
#5 Bandwidth Potential
The capacity to transfer data at high speed over long distance is high with fiber optic cables. The cables do not possess an infinite bandwidth though. However, compared to coaxial cables, the bandwidth is higher.
The coaxial cables cover few MHz/km as bandwidth parameter which is less than the 400 MHz/km parameter of fiber optic cables. Do note these MHz/km are estimations and will vary with every cable.
Wire cables with increased communication transmission capability are thicker and rigid, toughening up the process of installing them in buildings where special ducts must be created to install the wires.
Comparatively, the fiber optic cables are simpler to install because the wires are flexible and smaller. They can be installed along existing electric cables, and they will not pick up electromagnetic noise from other wires.
All buildings have ventilation ducts. It is easier to install the cables through the ventilation ducts, and as fiber optics are smaller, they need less space and less fire-retardant materials. Fiber optics are lightweight, making them ideal for portable installations.
All the above discussed factors make fiber optic cables a preferred choice for data communications. Added to a well-structured wire network, the optic cables can connect to multiple terminals even beyond its usual connectivity range.
In operations since 1992, EMC Technologies is a privately-owned Australian company in the wireless testing and certification space, and it operates both in New Zealand and Australia. Accredited with EMI, EMC and EMR facilities, the company offers testing, certifications, and specialist approval to telecommunications, electrical and electronics industry.
The company invests in the state-of-the-art infrastructure and training, and maintain active memberships with various other certification associations globally.
- is an FCC accredited testing lab with the AU0001 (Melbourne) and AU0002 (Sydney) designation number
- is a member of the FCC Testing and Certification Bodies (TCB) Council, and we attend their biannual conference-cum-workshops to remain up-to-date with the developments in Canada and the USA
- is a member of the European Radio Equipment Director (RED) Compliance Association
- is a member of the European Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (R&TTE) Compliance Association
- is a notified body under the EU EMC Directive 2014/30/EU
Wireless certification is a complicated process and decades of experience has made us the leader in the wireless certification market. We maintain a 95% market share. The extensive experience is at the disposal of our clients who want to enter a large overseas market and needs the accurate certifications.
EMC Technologies Services
EMC specialises in Low Interference Potential Devices testing, LIPD testing, and ACMA Short Range Devices 2014 testing. Approvals and certification services are offered globally such as Australian RCM, Canada FCC and ISED, Japan MIC, European CE Marketing and New Zealand GURL. There are 18 standard testing benchmarks. An overview of the services would include Bluetooth certification, ZigBee certification, Wi-Fi certification, short range radio transmitter and transceiver certification and LIPD certification.
#2 EMC Testing
The EMC testing services cover the automotive, medical, railway and rolling stock, military and aerospace, commercial and consumer industries, offering the necessary EMC testing services for the major international markets – CCC (China), VCCI (Japan), ISED (Canada), FCC (North America), CE (Europe) and RCM (Australia and New Zealand).
EMC Technologies also operate in the emerging markets of South America, Russia, South Africa, South Korea, Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Indonesia. The company adheres and complies with all regulation protocols.
#3 Safety Testing
EMC Technologies maintains compliance with all safety and security directives. We have our safety testing facility in Sydney, and it is NATA accredited. There are 16 common standards for which we provide safety testing NATA report. We employ experienced engineer to identify product safety deficiencies regarding product design, features, and components.
#4 EMR Testing
Since 1992, EMC Technologies is the most accredited and Australia’s largest company to measure electromagnetic fields, and we specialise in EMR surveys, RCM EMR testing, EMF measurements, ACMA EMR approval, EME expertise and maintains compliance with EMR Australia.
Our reports are globally accepted as we are NATA accredited for EMI/EMC/EMR/SAR & Safety Testing. We follow the major CISPR, AS/NZS, EN, ETSI standards and offer SAR Testing as the only lab in Australia and New Zealand. It is recognised by the Testing Authority (RTA) for ACMA telecoms compliance,
The telecommunications market is an exploding field, with unimaginable technological advancements. We have highly trained engineers and supporting staff working with clients for wireless certifications.
The Regulatory Compliance Mark (RCM) is a compliance system applicable to suppliers and manufacturers in New Zealand and Australia, and includes the telecom, electromagnetic radiation (EMR), EMC, radiocoms, and all electrical equipment industries to comply with revised testing and certification requirements. In short, all electronic and electrical equipment are covered under the RCM testing process.
A notable change, as part of the revised RCM system, is a regulated phasing out of the A-tick and C-tick marks and the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Suppliers Number. The transition process to replace the A-tick and C-tick marks began on 1 March 2013 and became mandatory on 1 March 2016.
The RCM system encompasses approvals, meeting set standards, testing and test reports, compliances, and adhering to the Declarations of Compliance. The RCM system gives importers and manufacturers from Australia and New Zealand the authority to sign the Supplier Declaration of Conformity. Importers and manufacturer outside these two countries do not have the authority to place RCM logo on the product or sign the Supplier Declaration of Conformity mandate.
Australian importers and manufacturers are responsible for supplier registration, RCM logo labelling on equipment, electrical safety, and other compliance maintenance. Few electrical equipment categories require a tougher level of testing and conformity. The ACMA, Electrical Regulatory Authority Council (ERAC), and Radio Spectrum Management (RSM) databases are involved in the creation of the RCM system.
The Electrical Equipment Safety System (EESS) mandated the applicability of RCM testing process on all in-scope equipment and created a unified electrical safety approval system to measure compliance level of suppliers and manufacturers. Due to the new compliance system, it becomes mandatory for all Australian suppliers, importers, and manufacturers to register themselves and their products on the EESS database.
Anyone using the RCM testing process needs to register as ACMA Responsible Supplier at the ERAC website. The council is the head of electrical safety regulation. Post the registration process, avail the relevant test reports in tune with the ACMA standards. Here are some product testing guidelines in brief:
- Products containing wireless transmitters such as radios, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth needs to comply with ACMA (EMR) and ACMA Radiocommunications (Radcom) standards.
- Products without wireless function should have a basic EMC test report based on the ACMA list of testing protocols.
- Products with a connection to satellite telecom network, mobile phone network or the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) needs to comply with the 2015 Telecommunications Labelling Notice (TLN).
Suppliers, manufacturers, and importers unsure about the testing processes and guidelines should contact an ACMA accredited centre for clarification.
Mains powered products come under EESS classification, under Compliance Level 1 grade. While registration is not mandatory, compliance is necessary under various federal and state laws. Products under Compliance Level 3 are high-risk (AC adapters, domestic appliance, and others) and must be registered by the Supplier with the ERAC national database. The relevant accredited certification body needs to issue a Certificate of Conformity.
Imported Compliance Level 3 products require a separate Importer registration, not under Responsible Supplier category. The Importer must be based in Australia or New Zealand, and such a person is wholly responsible for safety testing and compliance. The importer cannot delegate the responsibility to a local Australian representative; however, an authorised consultant in Australia or New Zealand can handle the registration process in lieu of the overseas importer.
The ACMA EMC Labelling Notice lists the products exempted from RCM testing and compliance process. A file containing the details of the exempted product and the reason for exemption needs to be kept handy for random ACMA audit. The file should have a detailed product description, test reports, and the signed Declaration of Conformity (DoC) for review.
The RCM unified the complete testing and approval process. It is a consolidated effort to identify products along the ACMA and EESS guidelines.
At EMC Tech, we provide a range of EMC testing & product certification services across Australia. We are NATA accredited for RCM, FCC, CE and IC Testing
If you bought a mobile phone charger from a vendor other than a trusted third party dealer, the official Apple website or an android smartphone company, then you might have a counterfeit charger.
Fake chargers at discount rates have become widespread on various, popular online stores including eBay and Amazon. What’s worrisome is that 90% of Apple chargers and cables on Amazon were found to be fake a report on the Telegraph in October, 2016 said.
One reason counterfeit products have been popular is that they are cheaper. But executives at UK’s Chartered Trading Standards Institute said, counterfeit goods could “cost you, your home or even your life, or the life of a loved-one.”
Dangers posed by the bogus products
According to Apple Inc., counterfeit chargers may overheat of the chargers, cause electric shocks and even catch fire.
These risks were affirmed by the London Fire Brigade. They once put out fire from a burning house in Tottenham after an imitation iPhone charger caught fire while in use.
In addition, the LFB determined that fake chargers were subject to damage and could damage your phone. They could also cause burns or even house fires though electrocution.
Counterfeit plugs or non-sleeved cables and plugs whose metal pins remain exposed are on fake chargers. They may also have live parts, only basic insulation and sometimes two pin plugs attached.
Non-sleeved plugs and cables expose the user to the risk of electric shocks which could cause injuries and even death.
The cables also tend to be of poor quality and easily get damaged.
Measures against counterfeits
Safety campaigners in the UK are working with search engines to crackdown online sellers of fake chargers. Illegitimate social media profiles who were selling suspicious items online had been removed.
But the consumer remains the most important player in this. You must be vigilant when purchasing electrical products on the internet.
How to spot a counterfeit phone charger?
Authentic Android chargers have the logo of their respective phone company.
Apple’s iPhone charger on the other hand has two parts – a power adapter and a lightning cable. This item may cost about 24 US dollars or north of that from the official Apple Store.
It’s perhaps because of this high price that some consumers are tempted to consider low cost options. Here’s how you can spot a real charger from a fake one.
- Weight of the product
A genuine iPhone charger will be a bit heavier than its fake cousins, because it has more components. The wall adapter should weigh at least 40g.
- Safety mark
The genuine charger has a safety mark on its underside right between the two bottom pins you plug on the wall socket.
This mark can easily be forged, but there is still a difference: the text on imitations are dark grey as opposed to the light grey on real iPhone chargers.
Also check the CE safety marking, the brand name of the manufacturer, Apple logo, batch number as well as the model number.
- User manual
The genuine iPhone charger comes with various essential instructions.
These include information on electrical safety and directions on how to safely use the charger safely. If any of these are missing, then you may be dealing with a fake.
- The finish
Look at the pins on the wall adapter. A legitimate charger should have a matt finish, with a consistent colour and a uniform square appearance.
A gloss or shiny finish, and/or irregularities in the size or shape are possible signs of a counterfeit product.
- Compliance testing (EMC and Electrical Safety)
When everything else fails to detect a fake charger, there is one accurate way to tell if your charger is not just fake but also dangerous: compliance testing.
In Australia, companies such as EMC Technologies can provide EMC and electrical safety testing services for you on a diverse range of electrical and electronics products including iPhone chargers.
With electrical safety testing and certification from a NATA accredited company such as EMC Technologies, you can rest assured that the product you are using will not only offer value for money but will also be safe to use.
The transition period from the old R&TTE (Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment) Directive to the new RED (Radio Equipment Directive) has almost expired. From June 13 2017 your equipment MUST comply with the new directive and applicable harmonised standards. The problem is that the RED has not yet been fully populated with harmonised standards.
Only 1 month to go! What do you do? Who do you call?
EMC Technologies is a member of various global industry groups including the RED Compliance Association. We will give you the best, expert advice. Please contact us.
EMC Technologies is the most experienced wireless testing and certification company in Australia and New Zealand. We maintain our expertise by investing in state-of-the-art equipment, training, and with membership of key overseas certification associations involved in testing, certification and approvals.
- Member of FCC Testing and Certification Bodies (TCB) Council and attends the training workshops held by the FCC twice a year. This ensures that we are up to date in the latest developments in the USA and Canada.
- Member of the UK EMC Test Labs Association.
- Member of the former European Radio and Telecommunications Terminal Equipment (R&TTE) Compliance Association.
- Member of the European Radio Equipment Directive (RED) Association.
- We regularly attend international workshops and conferences in USA, Canada, Japan, Europe
EMC Technologies investment in this field has given it 95% of the wireless certification market. Utilising our experience, up to date training and resources is you best insurance for a delay-free entry into the large overseas markets. Certification of wireless products is a complex process so why risk the success of your product with a less experienced company.
EMC Technologies is pleased to announce that Dr Arun Gayen has joined our team as our new Melbourne Safety Laboratory Manager.
Arun has many years of experience working in the compliance industry (formerly with TUV Rheinland Group in Japan and Australia) with a focus on Electrical Product Safety and EMI/EMC. He also brings a wealth of international experience in EMC Design and Consultancy from his previous experiences (PACE-United Kingdom, TATA ELXSI and Flextronics Design in India) plus local knowledge from his time at TUV Australia. Arun has a strong customer service approach.
For any electrical safety enquiries, please contact him on 03 9365 1000 or send a message via the contact form on our website.