CE Update Seminar


This free seminar was arranged by TRL Compliance Services and Schaffer EMC Ltd and attended by approximately 40 delegates at the Watford Moat House Hotel on 17th June 2004.


1. WEEE & RoHS

Andrew Kotas, Schaffner Ltd


The Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive is due to become law in August 2005, the Reduction of Hazardous Substances in July 2006, hence both are relatively close and companies are expected to be considering their implications and implementing relevant processes and procedures before their introduction.  Clearly this is not happening as more companies would have been present and it is believed many have their head-in-the-sand about these directives.  Targets will be set on products for percentage to be recycled and reclaimed and the producers are expected to pay for this, including any historical products already in the marketplace.  Recycling, recovery and disassembly requirements are going to be made, probably requiring companies to produce and supply a document on how to dismantle a product at its end-of-life and which parts can be recycled and which scrapped.  Routes to compliance include joining a WEEE scheme (collective industrial scheme), taking out recycling insurance and opening a separate bank account with WEEE payments ring-fenced.


Line-fit automotive products will be exempt from these directives under the End-of-Life Vehicles (ELV) directive, but most aftermarket suppliers are not covered by ELV.  Some impact will be felt by aftermarket suppliers, especially the removal of lead from the soldering process.  With vehicles having a more stringent requirement than many commercial fields (re. vibration and thermal environment) the impact of lead-free soldering on automotive products may yet not be fully appreciated. 


2. Changes to the Low Voltage Directive

Simon Barrowcliff, TRL Compliance Services Ltd 


A history of the development of the LVD was presented followed by some of the salient points that will impact the latest (6th) revision, due for implementation is 2006.  One of the most significant changes, and one that will affect automotive products, is the removal of the lower voltage limit.  Previously equipment operating from a supply below 75V DC (50V AC) was exempt, this is no longer the case and effectively all electrical equipment below 1.5kV DC (1kV AC) now comes within the scope of the LVD.  There are some exceptions, notably motor vehicle original fit equipment, but it is believed (although not yet finalised) that aftermarket automotive products will be covered under the LVD.  The revised directive also includes components and sub-assemblies that can be assessed in their own right, how this assessment criteria is defined was not expanded upon, but products such as cable management systems are believed to fall within this category.


3. Ferrite Detail: Tips & Tricks

Alan Keenan, Fair-Rite Europe


This presentation was little more than a sales pitch for Fair Rite inductive components.  As you might expect it suggested using beads almost on every single data line, internal and external to a circuit.  Some of the "Tips" were even wrong, for example suggesting using a higher impedance bead if reducing size (say going from 1206 to 0603) to avoid saturation effects, but because higher inductance results in lower saturation current the result is probably a worse situation than just the size reduction alone.


4. EMC Standards Update

Steve Hayes, TRL Compliance Services Ltd


This presentation was more about the process of standards updating and not very interesting (no fault of the presenters, this is just a dull topic).  Probably of interest to some test services, although I would expect most to be aware of the EU process, but to the audience I suspect relatively uninteresting and some of the information was a repeat of the WEEE/RoHS presentation and some was repeated in the presentation immediately following this.  The real problem was the lack of any proper detail, for example the upper limit of test frequency was mentioned as being increased in the next series of directive updates, but no limits were given?  Would these be 2GHz as in the recent Automotive EMC directive update or higher to cover the wireless LAN standards in common commerical use?


This was a great shame as the presenter came across well and with better material could have made a good job of this topic.  Not only were details such as the frequency limit changes not given, but one of the most significant changes that is being implemented is a change of immunity test method above 1GHz, from the usual amplitude modulation (AM) to pulse modulation (PM) to better represent GSM and wireless LAN sources.  Some forward vision on this change alone would have been worthwhile and was a missed opportunity.


5. The Benefit of Certification Marks

Andy Salisbury, KEMA Quality (UK)  


Again essentially a sales pitch for the certification marks KEMA Quality (the company presenting) represent; KEMA, UL and CSA.  Apart from UL/CSA for safety approved product, the other customer specific certification marks were not only of little interest to the automotive market, but I've seen very few of them ever used in any other industry.  There are some certification marks that are useful, such as Bluetooth interoperability, but KEMA seem to be more of a paper chasing organisation that liaise with UL/CSA for any technical issues so the certification issues discussed (poorly by the presenter) was of little interest.  


6. The Need for Continued Assessment

Andy Perkins, Schaffner Ltd  


The final presentation was a very excited look at the state of the CE marking in Europe and the number of products discovered to have failed when tested in a study of 10,000 products conducted in Belgium (why Belgium no-one really knows).  A third of the products failed on technical grounds, although none are suspected of being removed from the marketplace and effectively devaluing the CE mark itself.  A look at the failures categorised by the presenter into 2 groups; Chancers and Triers.  The Triers are those that believed they had done all that was necessary but possibly misinterpreted a standard or limit level, or believed (in good faith) that certain tests didn't apply to their products, or have not kept abreast of changes to the relevant standards and may even have experienced high uncertainty in measurement or fluctuation in build standard.  The Chancers are those that bring product to market knowing that the policing is poor or who are simply ignorant of the requirements, these are the people who take no real effort to meet the requirements and put a CE mark on their products because they can.


The standards are of course constantly changing, test frequencies are increasing, levels are getting tighter and verification requirement are increasing.  The speaker proposed that EU controls would be getting stronger with the onus shifted to the producer to prove compliance rather than on local policing agencies (Trading Standards Agency in the UK) to prove otherwise.


The audience seemed a little sceptical of the threat of better policing and expected that nothing had been done about the 33% of fails identified by this study (the presenter had no information on any follow-up as a result of the study).




Overall the seminar was useful, although only 3 presentations were of any direct interest.  The EMC Standards Update could have been much better with a bit more content and even the 2 overtly commercial presentations might have been useful if I worked in a different field of EMC (i.e. not automotive).  Even so both TRL and Schaffner deserve praise for organising the event and line-up and if you get a chance it is worth attending if only for the WEEE/RoHS information and to see just how animated Andy Perkins can get!


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