Elite Helps Steer Automotive EMC Standards Development

An Interview with Elite’s EMC Lab Manager and “CISPR-D” US Technical Advisor, Craig Fanning. Learn more from Craig at the upcoming Automotive EMC Standards Seminars in Detroit and Chicago.

By Stacey Klouda Cosentino

Stacey (SKC)-   So Craig, you’ve really grown a passion for helping to write and maintain automotive EMC standards.  What’s your story, and tell us about these standards and committees you lead?

Craig-  Okay I’ll admit it I’ve become a standards nerd, but after 20 years of participation on tech committees I really come to recognize standards are essential in any industry that’s successful and sustaining.  The automotive industry is 3% to 4% of our total GDP so we take pride here at Elite in contributing to this important segment of the US economy. Automotive EMC is also a big part of Elite’s brand and as the leader in automotive EMC testing we need to be a significant voice in test technology.  

Currently I’m the US Technical Advisor to CISPR D, Convener of CISPR D/WG2, and the Convener of CISPR D/A JTF on Chamber Validation. I am also in the process of being nominated to be Vice-Chair of CISPR D. CISPR is part of the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the various CISPR subcommittees prepare standards for different industry segments. CISPR D addresses RF emissions standards for vehicles. I am also on the SAE EMC committee and the ISO/TC22/SC32/WG3 committee. The WG3 committee is responsible for developing and maintaining the immunity standards used in the automobile industry worldwide.

SKC-   What’s involved as a committee member and leader and why is this important?

Craig-  As the US Technical Advisor my responsibility is to provide the technical input for the US on standards at an international level. We have a team of about 20 experts from US-based OEMs, suppliers and laboratories that make up the CISPR D USTAG. Each National Committee is allowed to have just a few key individuals that can attend the international standards meetings. It is our delegation's job to make sure the interests of US manufacturers/suppliers and test labs are well represented when developing and maintaining the international standards.

Quite honestly…as a leader, I am just the organizer of a committee. We have a phenomenal team of very knowledgeable experts who have been involved with automotive EMC (and standards development) for many years. We have one expert on the USTAG who was an integral part of drafting CISPR 25 Ed.1. He basically wrote the first revision of the standard we are still using today and he still contributes to the evolution of the standard. OEM experts work on actual vehicle issues every day. They are the ones who really know what performance is needed at the module level in order to have acceptable EMC performance at the vehicle level. As an EMC laboratory expert, I provide help with the test and standards development from a practicality standpoint. This is definitely a team effort…and we all work together well to get the job done.   

A big part of what we do is to make sure the standards are continuously improving, relevant, and adapting with changing technology and innovation. As a committee we specify test processes by consensus of experts and in that way capture best practices and ensure consistent and repeatable measurement results.

Our efforts to standardize methodologies reduce the cost and variety of test equipment, software and unique expertise.  The physics of EMC is the same for each OEM, supplier, and lab, so if we can write a single test method that can be shared by all players then the evaluation process for the entire industry becomes more efficient.

SKC-   As you mention the physics of EMC has not changed and for sure automotive EMC standards have been around for many years, so why is it important to have new or revised automotive EMC standards?

Craig-  You’re right our standards have been around for years, but these documents were the best work at the time they were released.  Our work efforts now are to improve the existing specs and make them more clear, concise, and unambiguous. We include improvements on definitions, setup details, and special test cases for new technology.  

SKC-   What new technology is driving your committee work?

Craig-  Electric and hybrid vehicle electronics are a major one.  With all the plug-in and Wireless Power Transfer (WPT) charging systems vehicle electronics need to consider an entirely different EMC environment. In this area we incorporate the work from the AC mains connected CISPR/ISO/IEC committees and adapt their technical input to the vehicle environment. I am also involved with the ANSI C63.30 committee working on a procedure for the testing of WPT products (including WPT devices for vehicles).

Autonomous driving is also a big leap in vehicle technology. Autonomous vehicles have many high frequency transmitters and include wireless connectivity. There are a greater number and variety of vehicular wireless devices with a broad range of applications, frequencies, and power levels. We will have a lot of interesting work to do from a standards development standpoint to address this new technology and connectivity.    

The receive bandwidth and sensitivity of wireless devices depend on the type of device - for example, TPMS, GPS, WiFi, or cellular.  Our committee has to consider the level of protection these devices need then develop vehicle and component standards that will limit interference from vehicle electronics and motors. We have to balance specifying limits that protect receivers with the design constraints for vehicle electronic and motor manufacturers. After all it’s not economical to specify requirements that dictate vehicle system be designed with shielded enclosures, harnesses, and connectors so we have to write practical documents.

SKC-  How are advancements in testing instrumentation and software changing standards?

Craig-  There are really important changes in our standards as a result of time-domain FFT-based receivers. We’re already seeing the benefits of FFT technology especially when testing GNSS receivers where the RBW are only 9kHz. This is an exhaustively long measurement with a swept or stepped receiver when compared to a FFT receiver. We are implementing FFT into the OEM measurements which allow FFT. Elite also does testing for Military, Aerospace and Commercial Electronics industries. FFT is finding its way into those standards and we will be implementing that technology into those tests whenever possible.

SKC- How has your standards work helped you personally?

Craig-  I’ve had the opportunity to meet many brilliant people in our industry from the US and around the world. I have been privileged to be able to know many of them on a professional and personal level. I’ve come to recognize that we all have a common focus of contributing our knowledge to the industry (no matter where you live or work geographically).

Being a part of these standards committee has really helped Elite be the leader in automotive EMC testing. I’ve been able to gain insight into the standards like never before so that when we test at Elite, we have a rock-solid understanding of what’s right or wrong about our processes.  It builds tremendous confidence internally and with our clients when we set up and run our tests. No matter how concise we try to make the standard, something always comes up to interpretation. Being involved with the standard development, I know what the intent of the standard was and how to correctly interpret the standards whenever there is a question or the need for engineering judgement.  

SKC-  How has Elite supported your participation?

Craig-   Elite has always been an ardent supporter of industry organizations, like the IEEE EMC Society, SAE, IEST and other professional groups.  Industry organization support was a core belief of Elite’s founder Jim Klouda and he stressed that Elite’s employees should be active in our industry and contribute time and resources. That same belief and commitment continues today with our current company leaders Ray, Tom, and Joe Klouda.  At Elite I’m involved with CISPR, ISO and SAE for automotive EMC, but we also have Tom Klouda leading aviation lightning standards development and Pat Hall participating in HIRF standards development in the SAE aviation committees.  Plus on the wireless regulatory testing side, Dan Crowder works in commercial wireless testing standards. Seems at times like we’ve got our hands in everything.