Archive for November, 2011
The fastest growing sector of the electrical and electronic product test business is energy efficiency testing. This is no surprise, what with the ongoing depletion of known supplies of fossil fuels and its associated geo-political and cost implications, combined with the pollution and attendant climate change associated with energy consumption.
Here is an overview of some of the top product energy efficiency programs in major markets:
In the U.S., ENERGY STAR – a voluntary program – is king. As covered here before, effective December 31, 2010, all ENERGY STAR products were required to be certified by an EPA-recognized certification body, like MET Laboratories. Today, there are more than 60 ENERGY STAR product categories, with 6 more in development.
In May 2011, U.S. EPA debuted the Most Efficient of ENERGY STAR pilot program. Today, there are more than 150 models from 16 manufacturers recognized as Most Efficient. MET Labs learned at the ENERGY STAR Partner Meeting in Charlotte earlier this month that EPA is extending the Most Efficient pilot through 2012 with limited changes.
In Canada, Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) maintains the Energy Efficiency Regulations and Standards for Industry. There are over 30 products regulated for energy efficiency in Canada.
The EU utilizes three labeling schemes: Energy Labels, Ecolabels, and Ecodesign.
Energy labels are mandatory for all appliances placed on the EU market, and are specified in energy labelling Directive 2010/30/EU. Energy labels display ranking of products according to their energy efficiency consumption on an A to G scale. Once the majority of products reach class A, up to three classes (A+/A++/A+++) are added on top of class A.
Ecolabels are voluntary labels adopted by the European Commission on a product-by-product basis, and are specified in Ecolabel Regulation EC/66/2010. The Ecolabel, i.e. the flower logo, may be displayed if the product is among the most environmentally friendly in its sector.
Ecodesign requirements are applied on a product-by-product basis, and are specified in Ecodesign Directive EC/2009/125. Ecodesign requirements are mandatory and must be met by all products placed on the EU market. They are based on an assessment of the impact of the product on the environment throughout its life-cycle, starting from the production stage, through to distribution and disposal.
During IECEE assessor training in Toronto earlier this month, two MET Labs CB Scheme assessors learned more details about IECEE’s new Energy Efficiency, Energy Performance and Energy Consumption Program (dubbed E3 Program).
The IECEE Secretariat is now receiving applications from qualified labs for scope extension to operate in the IECEE E3 Program.
Certification within the E3 Program will provide a test report issued by a IECEE CBTL (Certification Body Testing Laboratory) and validated by a STR (Statement of Test Result) issued by an IECEE NCB (National Certification Body). The service can be used as a stand-alone service or as a combined safety and energy efficiency/performance service, upon request from the manufacturer, where both Test Reports are attached to the CB Test Certificate or the FCS (Full Certification Scheme) Certificate issued by the IECEE NCB.
We often get the question: What version of RTCA/DO-160 should I use?
As per usual, it depends. RTCA/DO-160G, Environmental Conditions and Test Procedures for Airborne Equipment, is the latest version; it is dated December 8, 2010. According to an Advisory Circular dated June 22, 2011 from the U.S. DOT Federal Aviation Administration, “The FAA strongly encourages the use of RTCA/DO-160G for new articles.”
However, if the Technical Standard Order (TSO) does not specify the environmental qualification, the applicant may choose any environmental standard conditions and test procedures appropriate for their airborne equipment.
If the TSO does specify a version, you may request a deviation, in accordance with the requirements of 14 CFR part 21 subpart O, to use the conditions and procedures in a different version of RTCA/DO-160.
If the version of RTCA/DO-160 specified in a TSO is version D or later, and an applicant wishes to use a version prior to RTCA/DO-160D, then the applicant must meet the requirements of paragraph 6a by comparing the specific procedure and category changes, section by section, between the two versions. The applicant must also address the differences between the two test results when providing an equivalent level of safety.
When a new application is based on the design of an existing approved article, the applicant may ask to use environmental test data from the existing article’s environmental qualification, based on similarity between the two articles. This request must be fully supported with a detailed similarity assessment comparing the changes from the earlier approved article to the article in the new application. The aircraft certification office (ACO) may accept the data if the similarity assessment clearly shows that the design changes will not adversely affect the environmental qualification.
If you are an applicant installing equipment, you may use RTCA/DO-160, any version, to support compliance with the appropriate airworthiness requirements except as identified in paragraphs 7c, 7f, 7g, and 7h.
When installing equipment previously qualified to other environmental standards, such as MIL-STD-810G, the equipment must comply with applicable airworthiness requirements. You may use DO-160G to do a comparison analysis to show that it provides an equivalent level of safety in the expected operating environment.
Some of the environmental conditions and test procedures contained in RTCA/DO-160 such as waterproofness, sand and dust, or salt fog, may not be applicable to your installation based on intended location of the equipment. You must determine which sections and categories are applicable to your specific project.
About RTCA/DO-160: The airborne equipment standard, and its precursor RTCA/DO-138, has been used since 1958. Its purpose is to show compliance with certain airworthiness requirements. It is not the intent of RTCA/DO-160 to be used as a measure of service life of the airborne equipment subjected to these tests. The standard was developed by RTCA SC-135.
This week, MET Labs, Federal Signal Technologies, Concurrent Technology Corporation, and OmniAir Consortium, Inc. are performing a 4th round of regression testing on Dedicated Short Range Communications (DSRC) Vehicle Awareness Devices. The testing is being performed at Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, Texas. The Vehicle Awareness Device specification produced by the U.S. DOT has undergone updates – the latest as recent as last week – and device manufacturers have now incorporated these new requirements into their products in time for this week’s testing.
A last round of regression testing has been scheduled for December and this testing will be performed at MET Labs in Baltimore. For testing that requires vehicles moving at certain speeds and for measurements requiring an open field, testing will be performed at New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, New Jersey. In addition to using the racetrack, MET Labs has also received permission from the city of Millville to use an open adjacent field.
The December regression testing is for device manufacturers to fine tune their devices before they move into official Qualification testing in the first quarter of 2012. Qualification testing will be performed at MET Labs. Devices that comply with the specification based on the Qualification testing will be picked for the U.S. DOT Safety Pilot Model Deployment. The pilot will commence in late 2012 in Ann Arbor, Michigan and will include at least 2,500 vehicles fitted with these DSRC radios. The purpose of this safety pilot is to ascertain how effective these devices are in mitigating accidents involving vehicle-to-vehicle collisions.
Read about previous testing for this program.
Read about other types of automotive testing.
Last week, MET Labs attended the FCC Telecommunication Certification Body (TCB) Council TCB Workshop in Baltimore. Here was the agenda.
One of the workshop’s more interesting presentations was on the R&TTE Directive. Following is a summary of the key points.
The Radio and Telecommunication Terminal Equipment Directive applies in Europe and the European Economic Area.
There is no certification for the R&TTE Directive 1999/5/EC. Meeting the requirements is the responsibility of the manufacturer or whoever puts the device on the market.
- Products must have CE mark to show compliance
- Declaration of Conformity (DoC) must be created for each device
- Technical Construction File (TCF) is necessary to demonstrate compliance
The CE mark must be visible on the label, user manual, and packaging, and must include the Notified Body and Alert Symbol, if applicable.
The DoC must be available in each language, and must be traceable to a signatory.
The TCF must be kept for at least 10 years after the final version of each device has been made.
R&TTE Directive does not give test limits. It instructs the manufacturer that the device must comply with certain performance requirements:
- Article 3.1a – Health (RF exposure; boundary calculations; acoustic safety; typical operation)
- Article 3.1a – Safety (EN 60950 for IT equipment; EN 60065 for Audio/Video equipment)
- Article 3.1b – EMC Performance (EN 301 489 series for radio; EN 55022 & EN 55024 for TTE)
- Article 3.2 – Radio Spectrum (output power; frequency tolerance; spurious emissions; receiver performance tests; tests at extreme voltage/temperature)
R&TTE Directive divides products into two classes:
- Class 1 – No restrictions on putting the device into service
- Class 2 – Restrictions exist for use of the device, and Country Notifications may be necessary
Ideally, all devices fall within an existing harmonized (harmonised) test standard. If you test to a harmonized standard and pass, there is a presumption of conformity to the essential technical requirements.
Harmonized standards are listed by the European Commission in its Official Journal (OJ).
When a standard is superseded, the device should meet the new version of the standard to stay compliant. There is an overlap period.
A Notified Body opinion is required if harmonized standards are not fully applied in these situations:
- Device has new technology with no applicable standards yet
- New standards are not yet harmonized
- Family of products, where the standard has not been applied to some models
- Test procedures or processes of the harmonized standard were not followed
If the technology is new and no harmonized standards exist, the manufacturer works with a Notified Body – like MET Laboratories – to determine a test plan, or parts of another standard to use. Alternatively, use a new version of a standard which has not yet become harmonized.
For most Radio and Telecommunication Terminal devices, the R&TTE Directive alone is sufficient – the EMC and Safety (Low Voltage) Directives do not apply.
R&TTE Directive was written in 1999. The new version of the directive is being written now, with these goals in mind:
- Improve traceability to DoC signatory
- Improve compliance rates
- Improve process for dealing with non-compliant products
- Maintain equipment quality
- Maintain trade
The next TCB event is a FCC/TCB Conference Call on December 13. The call is restricted to TCB personnel, but Associate Members can receive the call minutes.
Find out more about compliance with the R&TTE Directive.
Effective November 1, 2011, the Administrative Council for Terminal Attachments (ACTA) is allowing Responsible Parties to validate their Part 68 Telephone Terminal Equipment (TTE) Responsible Party Code (RPC) data for the 2012 calendar year. A discounted rate will be in effect through January 31, 2012.
RPC data is required to be validated on an annual basis. The RPC establishes the connection between the responsible party and the telephone equipment stored in the database, and is used by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and U.S. Customs.
Responsible Party Codes that are updated will be noted by a “label” to show that the RPC data have been validated and are accurate. On at least an annual basis, ACTA provides the FCC with reports detailing those responsible parties who have, and have not, validated their data.
See ACTA’s announcement.
Find out more about 47 CFR Part 68 Telephone Terminal Equipment certification and validation.