What is EMC ? Complete overview by an EMC expert in 2023

If you aren't familiar with the EMC term, here are some real events that will explain to you the importance of EMC in the 21st century.

  1. Fault in NASA robot due to "ground wire" issue! On February 1, 2017, astronauts Peggy Whitson, Shane Kimbrough, and Thomas Pasquet faced a challenge while troubleshooting the Robonaut.

  2. The Azuma trains are causing issues with the equipment that tracks the trains and controls signals and points along the route. The problem is that the older equipment used on the lines north of York is not compatible with the new trains when they are operating on electric power.

  3. Electro Magnetic Interference (EMI) issue arises from the use of LED power supplies, which convert alternating current (AC) to direct current (DC) by switching at high frequencies.

  4. Technicians from mobile service provider Telstra determined that the motor of a beer fridge located in the garage of Craig Reynolds of Wangaratta, Australia was generating an electric spark that created enough RF noise to affect the 850 MHz band, after complaints of a network “black spot” arose.

    Therefore what exactly is EMC Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) that everyone thinks it's black magic but is not familiar with?

What is EMC (Electromagnetic compatibility) in a nutshell?

Electromagnetic compatibility, abbreviated as EMC, refers to the ability of a system to function correctly in its electromagnetic environment. It's a term you may never have heard of, but that is vital to every aspect of your daily life. Whether you're Skyping with relatives, using an electric brush, driving an electric car, or enjoying a cup of coffee at Starbucks, there's an EMC engineer who's hard at work making sure the technology we use and exist around use works in harmony with all the other electronic devices in the world around us.

History of EMC and how it evolved

First things first—what are electromagnetic fields? These are created by charged particles such as electrons or protons moving through space at speeds close to that of light (300000 kilometres per second). When these particles interact with other objects, they create electric currents which cause both static electricity buildup and voltage changes in nearby objects like computers or even humans.

Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) has been around for several decades. Still, it wasn't until the 1970s that the term "electromagnetic compatibility" was coined, and formal EMC testing standards were developed. In the early days of EMC testing, the focus was mainly on military and defence applications, where electromagnetic interference (EMI) could potentially compromise national security. As electronic devices became more prevalent in everyday life, the need for EMC testing expanded to include consumer and commercial products.

Over the years, EMC testing has evolved to keep up with the rapid pace of technological advancement and the increasing complexity of electronic devices. In the 1980s, the growth of personal computers and the proliferation of electronic devices in the home led to the development of EMC testing standards for consumer products. In the 1990s, the growth of the internet and the increasing use of wireless technologies led to the development of EMC testing standards for telecommunications and networking products. Today, EMC testing is a crucial part of the design and development process for a wide range of electronic products, from smartphones and laptops to aircraft and medical devices.

Benefits of EMC testing for companies and consumers.

You might be wondering what benefits EMC testing can bring to your company or to you as a consumer. Well, there are many!

For companies:

  1. Improved product quality: EMC testing helps ensure electronic products are free from electromagnetic interference (EMI) and operate as intended. This can help improve the overall quality of the product and increase customer satisfaction.

  2. Increased marketability: many countries have strict EMC testing requirements for electronic products, and companies that can demonstrate compliance with these requirements may have an advantage in the market. EMC testing can also help reduce the risk of product recalls or liability issues.

  3. Enhanced reputation: companies that prioritise EMC testing are likely to be seen as trustworthy and committed to producing high-quality products. This can help improve their reputation and build customer loyalty.

For consumers:

  1. Improved safety: EMC testing helps ensure that electronic products are safe to use and do not pose risks to health or to other machines.

  2. Increased reliability: EMC testing helps ensure that electronic products are reliable and function as intended. This can help reduce the risk of costly repairs or downtime for consumers.

  3. Enhanced performance: EMC testing can help optimise the performance of electronic products and ensure that they operate at their best. This can lead to a better user experience for consumers.

Importance of EMC testing in different Industries:

  1. Automotive: In the automotive industry, EMC testing is essential for ensuring the safety and reliability of electronic systems, such as engine control systems, braking systems, and navigation systems. EMC testing can help prevent malfunctions or failures that could compromise the safety of the vehicle, its occupants, or surrounding vehicles or people.

  2. Aerospace and defence: In the aerospace and defence industry, EMC testing is critical for ensuring electronic systems' safe and reliable operation on aircraft and military equipment. EMI can interfere with the functioning of these systems and potentially compromise national security.

  3. Telecommunications: in the telecommunications industry, EMC testing is important for ensuring the proper functioning of communication systems and devices, such as cell phones and routers. EMC testing can help prevent disruptions or failures in these systems that could affect the quality of communication.

  4. Consumer electronics: in the consumer electronics industry, EMC testing is essential for ensuring the safety and reliability of electronic products, such as laptops, smartphones, and home appliances. EMC testing can help prevent malfunctions or failures that could lead to customer dissatisfaction or liability issues.

  5. Medical devices: in the medical device industry, EMC testing is critical for ensuring the safe and reliable operation of electronic devices, such as pacemakers, defibrillators, and insulin pumps. EMC testing can help prevent malfunctions or failures that could compromise patient safety.- EMC Testing allows companies who are considering a new product design early enough so they won't waste time designing something that won't work well due solely on electromagnetic interference issues."

Main challenges and limitations of EMC testing:

EMC problems often produce malfunction, unexpected behaviour or damage to equipment or surroundings. This can cause outages and cascading failovers that cost millions of dollars to fix.

Despite the fact that EMC is a well-known "issue", there are still no standard solutions for real-time monitoring of EMC conditions.

There are several challenges and limitations to electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing:

  1. Complexity: EMC testing can be complex, particularly for electronic devices with multiple components or systems. It can be challenging to identify and isolate the source of EMI and to determine the best solution for mitigating it.

  2. Cost: EMC testing can be expensive, especially for large or complex electronic devices. Companies may need to invest in specialised equipment and personnel, which increases costs.

  3. Time: EMC testing can be time-consuming, particularly for devices with multiple components or systems. This can be a challenge for companies that are under pressure to get their products to market quickly.

  4. Changing standards: EMC testing standards can change over time, and companies may need to invest in new equipment or processes to keep up with these changes.

  5. Environmental factors: Environmental factors, such as temperature and humidity, can impact the results of EMC testing. This can make it difficult to accurately replicate test conditions and obtain consistent results.

  6. Real-world conditions: EMC testing is often conducted in controlled laboratory conditions, which may not accurately reflect the real-world conditions in which the device will be used. This can make it difficult to predict how the device will perform in the field.

Future of EMC and emerging trends in EMC technologies.

As we all know, EMC testing is evolving with technology. The complexity of modern electronics has increased, and it's now necessary to test more than just the limited set of components in a typical device. In addition, testing must be performed on a variety of devices and systems with different environments and configurations. This makes testing increasingly challenging for both manufacturers and their customers.

The future of electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) testing is likely to be shaped by a number of emerging trends and technologies. Some of the key trends and technologies to watch include:

  1. Increased reliance on wireless technologies: as the use of wireless technologies continues to grow, EMC testing will become increasingly important for ensuring the proper functioning of these systems.

  2. Development of new standards: as new technologies emerge, new EMC testing standards will likely be developed to ensure the safety and reliability of these technologies.

  3. Increased use of simulation and modeling: to save time and reduce costs, companies may increasingly turn to simulation and modeling tools to predict and prevent EMI issues before physical testing is conducted.

  4. Increased use of artificial intelligence: artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies may be used to automate parts of the EMC testing process, such as data analysis and report generation.

  5. Increased focus on sustainability: companies may increasingly focus on sustainability in their EMC testing practices, including reducing the use of hazardous materials and optimizing energy efficiency.

  6. Increased use of remote testing: with the rise of remote work, companies may turn to remote EMC testing methods to enable testing to be conducted remotely.

EMC testing is also becoming more automated—in some cases entirely so—because this allows manufacturers to speed up their processes while delivering higher quality results at a lower cost per unit produced (more details below). On top of this trend towards automation comes another one toward globalisation: not only do you need to think about which countries your product may end up in during its lifetime but also what language(s) those countries speak!


We have covered all the basics of EMC Testing, its history, and its importance in different industries. We have also discussed the challenges and limitations of EMC testing. Finally, we looked at some emerging trends that will shape the future of EMC technologies such as 5G and IoT.
EMC is important for product manufacturers of all types of industries. Good management of EMC in the early stages is critical to arriving at the market without additional delays or extra costs.

Sources of our stories: Mitai LinkedIn Channel

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