Why are Automotive EMC Standards & Testing required?

Category: EMC Testing
Posted by: EMC Technologies
Posted on: 10/23/2021
Automotive EMC standards and Testing Australia

Since 1968 when Volkswagen introduced the first computer controlled electronic fuel injection (EFI) system automotive EMC has been required. Automotive electronics went from a computer for engine control to controlling 50 – 75 embedded electronic modules for a wide array of functions and even self-driving capability. The Engine control unit (ECU) is still the most powerful computer in most cars and requires specialist automotive electronic engineering. Many of these electronic modules and assemblies play critical roles that could dramatically impact safety. Automotive electronic systems may emit RF noise or be adversely affected by external energy sources.

To ensure reliability of these systems, automotive EMC standards were devised by government regulations, manufacturers and industry certifications. These EMC standards are applied to original equipment manufacturers (OEM) automotive electrical components, systems and sub-assemblies and even whole vehicle testing.

Automotive EMC Testing services in Australia

EMC Technologies’ Automotive electromagnetic compatibility test facility and testing services include:

  • Whole vehicle testing
  • Electronic Sub-assemblies (ESAs) testing
  • Radiated emissions (RE) and Conducted emissions (CE)
  • Bulk Current Injection (BCI) immunity testing
  • Radiated RF immunity testing (RI)
  • Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) testing

Emerging markets like electric vehicles (EV) and autonomous cars take traditional Automotive EMC testing to the next level. Further to this, integration of smart devices and communications increase the requirement for automotive testing to ensure safety and reliability. Along with EVs come charging systems that typically require specialised high calibre EMC test equipment.

Our Automotive EMC testing tips!

1)    Know your legalities & regulations for the target market

Understand the market that you are targeting with your automotive electronics. An aftermarket electronic sub-assembly may require standards such as European (CE) E-marking, Australian UN ECE R10 or perhaps for an electric vehicle charger IEC 61851-21-2. If destined for an OEM, it is most likely that the OEM will provide a detailed specification for the compliance requirements. When developing your own Automotive EMC Test plan is advised to have this approved by the final customer or manufacturer. The final presented compliance records will then be examined by the procuring agency.

2)    EMC design from the start!

Automotive EMC environments can be harsh, and any product must be capable of withstanding its own Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) along with other coupled EMI from the environment and attached systems. Specialist knowledge of the types of EMI is essential to plan and design counter measures. This may be RF inline filters, using CANs on electronics, TVS diodes, capacitors, inductors, grounding, PCB layouts etc. Achieving robust and reliable electronics is the goal whilst not over engineering and adding extra cost. The minimum level of the design performance is defined by the applicable standard.

3)    Prepare a test plan

Foremost to any compliance, approval or certification project it is essential to plan. Planning helps define your testing scope and also can help with project planning. Similar to many other types of EMC Testing such as military and medical a test plan may need approval from the final sign off agency, company or OEM etc.

The test plan should include regional and or procurement test requirements, the applicable automotive EMC standard and the application of the requirements to the product under test. EMC emissions limits and immunity stress test levels may vary depending upon the product. If the product is safety critical then the immunity test levels are usually higher with the acceptable level of degradation or permissible loss of performance observed during the test not allowing faults or minimal errors.

With emissions and immunity testing the required time to fully operate and observe the outcome dictates how fast testing can be performed. The longer it takes to complete the product cycle the longer the testing and higher the overall cost. This is also the cases for number of operating modes, number of samples required for testing, and number cables or ports. The test plan should consider the setup to the product under test including excitation of stimulus such as signal and communication ports.

EMC Technologies can assist in preparing or reviewing your test plan against the requirements of automotive EMC standards and provide relevant feedback prior to commencing testing. 

4)    Pre-compliance development testing

Testing from the early development stages helps establish if you’re on the right path to achieve compliance. Validation provides some confidence in the design, and testing at the same lab as the final testing avoids surprises.

6)    Communication is key to smooth product compliance

Automotive electromagnetic compatibility test labs typically have many other products been tested simultaneously, with many labs having lead times of weeks sometimes months. It is essential to start communicating with test lab at the early stages. Visit the automotive EMC test centre prior to committing. This also helps build the relationship prior to commencing the testing. Book early and communicate any delay with the test lab so they can reschedule your booked test.

7)    Prepare thoroughly prior to testing

Ensure that you have the product working, the system and cables etc required for testing configured and working prior to testing. Ensure that all means of performance monitoring works and any possible failures investigated and mitigated. For some monitoring equipment it may be required to isolate these outside the test environment. Filtering such as fibre optic converters, ferrite clamps, line filters, transient suppressors etc may be required.

8)    Be on hand during testing

EMC testing can take from one day to months to complete. Understandably you may not be available to attend the test lab everyday but attending at the start to configure the product and associated support equipment is highly recommended. We provide regular updates and also updates when failures are observed. Nonetheless, being on hand allows decisions and actions to be undertaken quickly and efficiently. Also attending the test lab provides insight into how the testing is performed. Increasing your automotive EMC standards testing knowledge i.e., some free automotive EMC training. Our experienced test engineers have extensive experience and can setup the product, test equipment and provide feedback including if there are any EMC problems such as failures throughout the entire testing program.

Get in contact with us!

Get in touch with EMC Technologies or EMC Bayswater to see how we can help with your automotive EMC approvals. We have the best most comprehensive facilities with expert staff, multiple test labs and locations. Check out our accreditation, automotive testing capability and contact us for more information.

A great guide to Automotive EMC standards and testing is available online: 2020 AUTOMOTIVE EMC GUIDE, your find EMC Technologies as one of the listed EMC testing labs.