June 14, 2019
Silicon Valley companies now have a powerful resource to help them navigate local, national and global regulatory policies, as well as risk management and safety issues. UL recently opened a newly expanded Silicon Valley laboratory for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) and wireless testing in Fremont, California. This facility is the largest of its type in North America and a significant addition to the region’s innovation ecosystem. We spoke with Robert Falco, sales team leader for UL’s Consumer Technology division, about critical challenges entrepreneurs and engineers face, and what UL’s new facility brings to the table.
Q: Silicon Valley is the world’s epicenter for innovation. How does UL’s presence fuel advances in technology?
A: The innovation happening here in Silicon Valley is unlike any other place in the world. Companies are continually inventing world-changing products and solutions. They want to make sure these innovations are safe and can fulfill their market promise. That’s where we come in. We give product designers and manufacturers the ability to perform research and development (R&D) testing in real time, just minutes from their offices. They don’t need to jump on a plane or host daylong video conferences to get things done. Access to testing chambers and resident expert engineers go a long way to shortening development time and confirming launch schedules.
Q: At the Fremont laboratory, what are the main critical challenges we solve for customers?
A: We frequently see three key issues companies must address for success: global market access, EMC expertise and speed to market. For example, we rarely see clients with strictly U.S. needs. Everything in Silicon Valley is about scalability and the global marketplace. One of the big questions a company asks itself here is, “How quickly can we grow, and which markets will fuel our growth?” Sometimes that growth can be hampered with the struggle to integrate sophisticated technologies into increasingly smaller devices. With our world-class engineering staff, state-of-the-art technology and Global Market Access certifications, we can help start-ups, mid-sized businesses and large corporations answer that question and help pave the way for growth.
Q: Specifically, how does UL help innovative companies get their products into the global marketplace?
A: Global market entry is a big deal for Silicon Valley companies. We advise and assist clients to get their products into foreign markets, swiftly and cost-effectively. Testing is one piece of the puzzle. However, there is a small mountain of paperwork to complete for most countries, and most clients neither have the desire nor expertise to execute this in a timely manner. They would rather be selling products and developing the next product iteration. We help clear market access hurdles, so they can focus on building the next super company.
Q: Given the widespread adoption of 5G on the horizon, how does the work done at the laboratory help move this forward?
A: The development of 5G brings increasing concerns about interoperability, functionality and safety. These kinds of concerns aren’t new, but the solutions to test products that use 5G must be innovative and robust. And, with mass 5G technology adoption on the horizon, demand for EMC and wireless device testing and certification services will increase exponentially. At the new laboratory, we stand ready to help companies test their 5G capabilities, so they can go to market faster, safer and more reliably. Supporting FCC 5G guidelines to test products for the U.S. market, the Fremont laboratory is one of the only places with these capabilities in North America.
Q: The expansion of the Fremont laboratory allows for broader service capabilities. Are there emerging or new sectors you see benefiting from these offerings?
A: New technologies that have a major impact on our daily lives and the world at large are constantly being developed in Silicon Valley. For example, in the automotive arena, we are seeing a couple of dozen car companies vying for a leadership position in the autonomous vehicle market. Another segment growth area is virtual and augmented reality — from doctors performing remote surgeries to maintenance techs wearing goggles that contain manuals that can be manipulated with their eyes. Also, voice command technology is increasingly embedding in all sorts of devices from smart speakers to smart lighting and smart door locks. The investment we have made in this facility allows UL to service these along with a diverse range of other innovative technologies for customers across diverse sectors.
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