Top Risks of Electromagnetic Interference and What to do about it

Electromagnetic interference is the electronic emittance of electronic noise. These unwanted signals are generated by electrical equipment and flow through electrical circuits and both the simple and complex wiring of electronics. While these signals do enable the operation of electrical equipment, they also produce undesirable consequences. In some cases, these side effects are not detectable, while in others they are extremely disruptive causing issues like secondary system damage and the disruption of sensitive electronic systems that are operating near and far.  What are the top risks of EM interference, what are the best techniques for limiting EM emissions from your system and how can you protect your system against these various threats?

Top Electromagnetic Interference Risks

In today’s dense electronic environment and continual technological advances, a number of products are affecting the operation and interoperability of major systems in society. Several industries are impacted by EMI sources such as:

  • Ambient RFI originates from radios, satellites, power grids, airport radars and telecom transmissions or lightning which occurs as a high voltage and high current event, among others. Simple communications like navigation and electricity can be severely impacted by interference. 
  • In other cases, High Powered Electromagnetic Pulse (HEMP) threats, mostly utilized by military organizations, include EMI sources utilized by sabotage and terrorist groups, HEMP produced by nuclear devices, High Power Microwave Weaponry utilized as a combat weapon and weaponized EMP transmission devices, which is a military tactical weapon. Interference could compromise the government and safety of a population.
  • Other Important RFI Devices that must be protected include medical equipment like MRI and X-Ray Equipment plus “other” critical medical devices which are responsible for patient monitoring, implantable devices and drug pumps among others.
  • Mass transit systems also heavily rely on magnetic fields and contain sensitive equipment and systems like train control electronics, that can be heavily affected by EMI sources like broadband frequencies, and require adequate EMC design. 

EMI factors are a critical consideration for countless reasons and innumerable industries. When evaluating the quality assurance status and reliability of electronic products and systems, EMI factors must meet EMI/EMC emissions regulations. Organizations like the FCC, as well as the  Aerospace, Medical, Military, and Automotive industries, have stringent requirements for EM sensitive equipment to function properly and without degradation or disruption in performance from interference generated by other nearby electronic devices.

Magnetic Field Interference vs. Electric Field Interference

In today’s digital world, electronic systems generate RF signals VIA magnetic and radiated electric fields. Both forms of energy cause disruptions to sensitive electronics.  It is important to be able to distinguish what kind of EMI is the problem. Magnetic field interference problems can be diagnosed by first determining whether there are high-current loaded power cables in proximity to the cables that are affected. Often, simply putting space between the cables can improve the system if the problem source is a magnetic H-field. If re-routing cables does not yield any improvement, the interference is likely in the electric field. A quick and effective shielding test can reduce the electric field. If EMI shielding causes an improvement, then an electric e-field problem is the source, otherwise, the issue is likely derived from other components in the system.

EMI Management and Component Design 

Specialists like electrical engineers, scientists, and personnel involved in the various phases like design, development, analysis, and evaluation of electronic systems are responsible for EMC protection techniques that can mitigate severe risks. Using techniques like bonding, filtering, shielding, grounding and printed-circuit-board design, among others, specialists are able to temper EM threats like an electromagnetic pulse (EMP), high power microwave (HPM) weapons, electromagnetic and radio frequency interference (EMI and RFI), electromagnetic compatibility (EMC); lightning and transient energy.

Need a Trusted Electromagnetic Management Expert?

If you’re looking for a trusted expert that offers real-time, hands-on experience and expertise in electromagnetic management and electronic component design, it’s important to work with consultants who not only follow regulation requirements but also have hands-on experience in important subjects like HERO, HIRF, HARM, TREE, and EMSEC/TEMPEST among others. Robinson’s Engineering Consultants have experience in design and testing in all areas of electromagnetic management. With a specialty in electromagnetic and radio frequency interference (EMI and RFI), electromagnetic compatibility (EMC), electromagnetic pulse (EMP), and lightning and transient energy mitigation, Robinson’s Engineering Consultants serve diverse industries like Aviation the Military, Telecommunications, Medical, Commercial and Automotive. To schedule a FREE consultation and learn more about mitigating EMI click here.

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