Equipment manufacturers must focus on designing and manufacturing equipment that meets their market needs. Some products are relatively simple, and some are complex. Whether simple or complex, many equipment designs are now digital. Those that are still analog are quickly approaching digital designs. Equipment designers must focus on maintaining that competitive edge and reducing costs as their engineering staff continues to shrink. One critical part of every equipment design that manufacturers often take for granted is power quality. According to the IEEE standard 1100-1992 (R1999, R2005), IEEE Recommended Practice for Powering and Grounding Electronic Equipment, power quality is defined as the concept of powering and grounding electronic equipment.
No source of power—AC or DC, is perfect and clean of disturbances. The objective of A&E designers is to deliver power to a piece of equipment that is compatible with that equipment. Compatibility is the concept of providing power to a piece of equipment that does not cause malfunctions and damage to that equipment, and vice versa—equipment that does not introduce disturbances into the electrical environment surrounding that equipment. Manufacturers aim to design equipment that will function in intended electrical environment. However, the proper focus on ensuring compatible operation between the equipment and its intended electrical environment is lost. Why? This is because equipment designers are focused on ensuring their equipment provides the expected functions. Designers often overlook the criticality of the equipment’s power supply. The power supply, whether AC or DC, is the electrical interface between the surrounding electrical environment and the equipment’s function. It is the “buffer” between the equipment surrounding electrical environment and its sensitive electronics. The power supply must “shield and protect” the equipment’s electronics from the harmful byproducts of unstable power phenomena—called PQ disturbances.
Electrotek’s team of expert equipment designers with vast PQ knowledge can help manufacturers and their designers understand, identify, solve and prevent (UISP) any power-related equipment malfunction or failure. With 70 to 80% of all PQ problems caused by wiring and grounding errors internal to facility electrical systems, end-use equipment is constantly exposed to PQ disturbances which may render it inoperable. Electrotek engineers are knowledgeable regarding power quality design topologies and how they react to all types of PQ disturbances occurring in facilities.
Electrotek’s approach to understanding the PQ emissions and immunity performance of end-use equipment is based on the PQ phenomena that actually occurs in customer facilities. PQ disturbances that occur in customer facilities involve the facility’s wiring and grounding system and the disturbances that are present in that system. While the disturbances defined in standards are important when attempting to understand the basic PQ immunity performance of equipment, they do not represent what actually occurs in the real world.
Electrotek’s PQView® PQ digital disturbance library—the largest of its kind in the world, is used by Electrotek’s PQ test engineers to identify the underlying PQ immunity issues lurking in a design waiting to cause customers headaches and extensive problems. When a power supply has a negative reaction to a disturbance, downstream electronics can also be damaged. Ironically, damage caused by disturbances incident upon equipment can be “accumulating” in the equipment over a long period, waiting for a latent failure to suddenly occur. Many pieces of equipment use “plug-in” power supplies which can be easily replaced. However, if a latent failure downstream of the power supply occurs, a replacement power supply won’t solve the problem.
Unfortunately, manufacturers too frequently experience a rash of malfunctions and failures upon product entry into the market. Malfunctions and failures can easily get into the 1,000’s, and in some cases cause financial losses into the hundreds of thousands and millions of dollars.
Electrotek’s vast knowledge of power supply and equipment designs and PQ immunity performance, places us at the top of the list with respect to PQ consultants experienced in identifying weak links in electronic equipment design. Electrotek can “peel away the layers” of an equipment design to determine how and why disturbances cause equipment malfunctions and failures. “Peeling away the layers” in a power supply and equipment design allows Electrotek engineers to understand the dynamics of the power supply, its downstream components and systems and why designs react to PQ disturbances.
The real world PQ immunity testing approach that Electrotek applies to power supplies and equipment designs exposes them to the PQ phenomena that occurs in real world electrical environments. Our approach for determining which disturbances to apply depends on how the front-end protection is designed and implemented. Identifying the weak-links in power supplies and equipment extends PQ immunity testing above that defined by IEEE and IEC standards. Application of today’s PQ immunity standards will determine only the basic PQ immunity performance of manufacturers’ designs, leaving the underlying immunity issues untouched. Application of Electrotek’s real-world PQ immunity testing will find the “hidden” issues that might otherwise show up in the customer’s facility.