What is EMC Testing & Why is it Important?

May 15, 2024 | < 1 min read

We live in a wired (and increasingly, wireless) world, and all electronic and digital devices have the potential to generate electromagnetic (EM) energy. EM emissions (both intentional and unintentional) can have undesired effects on other nearby electronic equipment, not to mention people and animals.

With so many electronic and digital devices operating in close proximity all around us, it’s important to ensure that they don’t interfere with each other and create malfunctions or safety hazards. For example, imagine how problematic it would be if a police officer’s cellular phone interfered with the emergency radio in the police car — or if a wearable fitness tracker interfered with a pacemaker implanted in the person wearing it.

For these reasons, most countries regulate the testing and certification of digital devices, radiofrequency (RF)/radio devices, and products with integrated wireless technologies before they are imported, marketed and sold. However, manufacturers often don’t have the capacity or capability in-house to complete the testing required to place their product on the market.

Partnering with an experienced, full-service test lab like Industrial Inspection & Analysis (IIA) allows manufacturers to focus on what they do best: creating a quality product.

What is EMC Testing?
Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) testing ensures that an electronic or digital device operates safely and effectively and does not create electromagnetic interference (EMI) that impedes the function of other devices or causes harm to users. There are two main types of EMC testing: emissions and immunity.

  • Emissions Testing uses a special chamber to measure the amount of electromagnetic energy produced by a device to ensure radiation levels meet regulatory standards and do not impede the operation of other devices or cause harm to users.
  • Immunity Testing measures a device’s ability to function properly when subjected to electromagnetic interference from external sources, such as lightning strikes or power surges.

Standards for emissions and immunity compliance vary by country and industry.

Other Electronic Testing
In addition to EMC testing, depending on the product and industry, the following types of testing may be required for compliance:

  • RF Testing is required for radio, wireless, and telecommunications equipment, which must be constructed in a way that effectively uses and supports the efficient use of radio spectrum in order to avoid harmful interference.
  • Electromagnetic Field (EMF) and Electrical Product Safety Testing help to ensure the protection of people and domestic animals from shocks, burns and electrocutions, and the protection of property from electrical hazards that could lead to a fire.
  • FDA ASCA Medical Device Testing: These are specific requirements outlined by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under its ASCA program (Accreditation Scheme for Conformity Assessment) to test electrical medical devices and systems.

As a full-service provider, IIA has expertise in all of these types of testing — and the regulatory expertise to get products to market as quickly as possible.

IIA Accreditations
Accreditations help to ensure that your lab partner is fully qualified to perform the testing you need. IIA’s Florida testing lab (formerly known as Timco Engineering) is an A2LA accredited test laboratory in accordance with ISO/IEC 17025:2017 for various test technologies, including:

  • FCC: Our scope of accreditation (0955.01) is recognized by the FCC to make a determination of the applicable FCC rules and to properly test to the FCC requirements and test methods.
  • ISED: Our scope of accreditation (0955.01) is recognized by ISED Canada to make a determination of the applicable ISED rules and to properly test to the RSS requirements and associated test methods.
  • EU: We are accredited under the scope (0955.01) for several international methods, including EN, ETSI, and CISPR requirements to properly test to the EU rules and provide a determination of compliance.
  • International: We are also accredited under the A2LA scope (0955.01) for several international methods, including EN, ETSI, and CISPR requirements to properly test to various international rules and provide a determination of compliance. For example, we offer testing services for Australia, Hong Kong, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, United Kingdom, and Vietnam —to name a few.

Details on the specific recognized test methods are available on our A2LA accredited scope 0955.01.

Product Certification
Most radio products are subject to certification. But many labs only have testing capabilities, so they must outsource certification. As a one-stop shop, IIA performs testing and certification in-house, which results in faster speed to market for our customers.

Certification consists of the Review and the Certification Decision process requirements. The Review process requirement is the review of all the information and test results related to the evaluation process requirement (i.e., testing) and the Certification Decision process requirement is an assessment of the information related to the Evaluation and Review process requirements to determine that a device is compliant and may be authorized.

Our Florida EMC Lab is A2LA accredited under the A2LA scope (0955.02) in accordance with ISO IEC 17065:2012 to certify product under the authority of the following government agencies:

  • U.S.: Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
  • Canada: Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED)
  • Japan: Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Japan (MIC)
  • EU: European Commission (EU Radio Equipment and EMC Directives)
  • United Kingdom: Department for Business and Trade (DBT)
  • Singapore: Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA)
  • Hong Kong: Office of the Communications Authority (OFCA)

The markets we serve include medical, scientific, consumer, automotive, commercial, telecommunications, military, wireless, marine, test and measurement, aerospace, lightning and lasers, information technology equipment and radio equipment and more.

Regulatory Expertise
As wireless technology rapidly evolves, so do the rules and regulations affecting the products we live, work and play with. New standards and test methods, and changes to rules and regulations, are always on the horizon.

To keep pace with the ever-changing regulatory environment, our EMC team has established strong relationships and ongoing communications with regulatory agencies around the world. For example, IIA experts meet monthly with the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), participate in international workshops hosted by Ministry of Internal Affairs & Communications (MIC) Japan, and are active in organizations such as the Radio Equipment Directive Compliance Association (REDCA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

Our experts also help to shape the regulatory landscape by serving in leadership roles in industry organizations, such as the Telecommunication Certification Body (TCB) Council. The Council hosts biannual meetings to promote dialogue between the FCC and TCBs, and to further improve TCB performance. (A TCB, such as IIA, is an accredited organization with the authority to issue Grants of Certification for compliance with FCC rules and regulations.)

When you partner with IIA, our team of EMC experts will identify the rules and regulations applicable to your products. We then provide unbiased guidance on the most favorable and economical approach to compliance so you can increase your speed to market. This requires an expert knowledge of RF engineering and EMC concepts and principles, as well as an in-depth knowledge of regulations and good engineering judgment.

Why Choose IIA?
Our Florida testing lab has nearly 50 years of experience testing and certifying wireless devices for markets around the world. When you partner with us, you’ll receive detailed reports and follow-up services — from report submission to final approval or grant. We provide a level of service you won’t always find at larger labs.

We understand the specific needs and requirements of an array of industries all around the world. In 2023, over 10% of the devices certified for sale in the U.S. were certified by IIA. We also issued hundreds of EU-Type Examination Certificates for the European market for leading manufacturers such as Hewlett Packard, Lenovo, Tesla, Pioneer, Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, LG, Logitech, Honeywell, Asustek, Sony, Hyundai, and Garmin.

EMC testing is an important consideration for any manufacturer that produces electronic devices. For some industries and products, strict regulations for EMC testing are in place. However, even if EMC testing is not mandatory, it can be a valuable part of a robust quality control process — and IIA can help.