July 10, 2018
From smart appliances to wearables, connected cars and more, the number of connected devices now available on the global market continues to increase rapidly with no signs of slowing down. In fact, Gartner estimates that by 2020, we’ll see more than 20 billion connected products brought to life by approximately 4.7 million developers across the globe.
But what goes into helping to ensure that this growing number of consumer technology (CTECH) devices operating concurrently in a shared wireless environment will do so safely?
“As equipment and devices become more connected, they will encounter the potential for more interference,” said UL’s Kai Hagenah, CTECH operations manager for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, known as the DACH region. “We envision a big future for electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) as well as Radio performance testing to meet the demand of new connected products coming onto the market.”
For background, when there are multiple pieces of equipment in a shared environment, unintended interactions between any electronics from the equipment can have adverse impacts on other electronic devices or radio systems. Evaluating an individual product’s electromagnetic compatibility characteristic helps to ensure different equipment will operate correctly, without interference, in a common electromagnetic environment.
Engineers at UL’s Stuttgart, Germany laboratory perform EMC as well as Radio performance testing, e.g., analyzing the ability of electronic devices to operate as expected in proximity with other electronic devices in the presence of electromagnetic emissions. The 7,500-square foot Stuttgart lab conducts testing in 11 shielded rooms which provide stable and reproducible test configurations and an environment free of outside interference.
Staff runs the equipment through a series of emission and immunity tests using state-of-the-art equipment and techniques to help ensure the equipment complies with international and national standards and requirements for their applicable regions of use. The competence performance testing done on various products applies the standards required for different regions of the world, such as those stated by DAkkS, the official accreditation body in Germany, and BNetzA, the official certification body for the FCC.
While UL has been helping global manufacturers build trust in their products by conducting EMC compliance testing for more than 20 years, the Stuttgart lab represents the latest effort to expand these services to central Europe. Opened in April 2017 with full accreditation from DAkkS, the Stuttgart lab was assigned to serve CTECH equipment, such as routers, wireless devices, IT equipment and vehicle infotainment systems manufactured by nearby automotive suppliers.
The lab regularly reviews the capabilities and requirements of CTECH equipment while looking to expand its scope to handle new technologies and applications as business group demand arises in the future.
“The Stuttgart area is a high-technology incubator where an increasing number of manufacturers are developing new devices that fall under the ’smart’ category,” said UL’s Bernd Woerl, who oversees EMC and Radio testing at the Stuttgart lab. “We’re working hard to demonstrate to the market how we truly are a one-stop service provider with the ability to handle complex projects that address everything, including EMC and Radio performance testing, global market access and safety certification services.”
Indeed, with more than $8 billion of investment in research and development and 4,750 patent registrations every year, the Stuttgart region is one of the European powerhouses of research and development in high-technology fields such as automotive construction and electromobility, among others.
“That’s why we set up the lab where we did, to give the wealth of innovative companies in the Stuttgart and greater DACH region a local testing option that avoids their need to travel far for EMC testing,” Hagenah said. “It’s another example of how UL is a local service provider with a global footprint.”