Ronny Deseine, Barco, Belgium
When I look back on the way we designed analog- and "slow" digital circuitry for broadcast displays back in the eighties and how it evolved to electro-magnetic engineering of high-speed logic design nowadays, I still remember how difficult it was to understand all kinds of unexpected electro-magnetic "self interferences" that showed up in the early nineties that could not be explained by what was drawn in the schematics. We gradually became aware of the importance of what we called 'parasitics' that actually needed to be taken into account in order to obtain the required performance. Spice simulation tools helped us a lot to develop this knowledge and insight.
Even though, when the legislation forced us to comply with electro-magnetic compatibility standards, the experiences that we built up and the techniques that we developed fell short to understand and solve EMC problems.
During the quest for insight and solutions in 2007, a systematic and comprehensive way of designing for EMC was found in Keith's book "EMC for Printed Circuit Boards: Basic and Advanced Design & Layout Techniques". Some of our own experiences, conjectures and techniques that we developed at that time were mentioned and were explained in this book, this gave us trust that this was really the way that we had to go, but there was a lot more in this book, it described EMC design techniques in a systematic, consistent and interactive way, including component selection and -application, schematics, PCB design, mechanical design, cable design and system design. I had a feeling that Keith was the one who could help us to get rid of the problems that we had with getting our products EM-compliant.
We invited Keith and organized several sessions of his EMC course for over 100 people in Barco worldwide. The course gave us a lot of insight, was highly appreciated and got high scores from the participants and provided a solid base for the development of a systematic way of designing EM-compliant products.
Subsequently, Keith was also involved in EMC reviews of new designs together with the involved members of the design teams, this gave us the opportunity to see how the techniques that were mentioned in the course could be implemented in our products.
We experienced that products where the EMC recommendations were systematically and consistently applied really had an excellent and reproducible EMC performance without adding extra cost, this was our motivation to develop and to introduce a DfEMC process in Barco.
Together with Keith, we developed a comprehensive spreadsheet that contained all recommended practices, techniques and technologies that were mentioned in the EMC course together with experiences of our own and other market specific requirements. This enabled all members of the design team in all design disciplines to implement the good EMC practices during all phases of the design process in all the products that were to be designed in a systematic way.
Since the introduction of the DfEMC system in 2012, the EM-performance of all the products that were designed based on this system was really systematically "first time right". We were able to start shipping the products according to the project planning while we complied with the required EMC standards with comfortable and reproducible margins. If required, extra effort could be spend on cost down after the market introduction rather then delaying the market introduction by spending extra effort, resources and EMI mitigation material cost to get the product compliant.
So, Keith guided us from an expensive method of EMC Firefighting at the end of product development towards a systematic process of EM-engineering during all stages of product design.
Looking back on the complexity of the challenges that we faced, it would have been impossible to get where we are now without the guidance of someone like Keith Armstrong who is experienced and knowledgeable in the domain of EM-engineering, who continuously evolves together with the fast changing technologies and tools, who is very knowledgeable about legislation and experienced in different markets like medical, automotive and many others and who wants to share this expertise and help companies to get reliable cost effective EM-compliant products on the market on time.
Expert Engineer Electronics
EMC coordinator for Barco Healthcare
Beneluxpark 21 - B-8500 KORTRIJK - BELGIUM