This issue covers:
- HAE launches new electrical safety guidance
- HAL for added flash to PCB testing in the USA
- Electrical product safety under the spotlight
- Consumer goods manufacturers drive growth in testing services
- DO4000 drives up quality control in automotive manufacturing
- New ROHS requirements
The Hire Association Europe (HAE) has introduced a new Code of Practice to ensure the electrical safety of hire equipment.
In recent months the HAE has been working with HSE, IET, electrical testing equipment suppliers and member companies to produce clear guidance for electrical safety testing in the hire sector.
The result is new industry best practice advice and guidance to assist companies that hire electrical equipment and appliances to the general public or businesses and recommends good working practices for the management of in-service electrical equipment for hire companies.
It also underlines the legal duty of care operators have to ensure that equipment made available for hire remains in a good safe working condition and that routine electrical safety testing is necessary to ensure that all equipment supplied by the hirer meets this requirement. More details at www.hae.org.uk
PCB manufacturers can take advantage of a fast, reliable and safe solution to meet the growing demand for flash/HIPOT tested (2kV) unpopulated boards.
Electrical safety testing specialists Clare has developed a bespoke system utilising its HAL104 instrument connected to a test enclosure, which enables the easy flash testing of PCBs during the initial production stages.
The enclosure has a conductive foam base with modular sections to accommodate different sizes of PCBs. It can have either a spring mounted probe system or a further section of conductive foam can be added to allow it to work with different types of PCBs.
The move follows the increasing USA-led trend that all base PCBs must now be flash tested during the manufacturing process to ensure that they have no defects and are compliant with safety standards.
This comes from growing demand among global component assemblers that all electronic components should be able to pass a flash test before final build.
Two types of PCB can be tested: those with one surface covered in metal and ‘standard’ units with an insulated side.
Regardless, the track side of the PCB is placed face down on the conductive foam, enabling all metallic parts to be in contact with the foam and providing a ‘base bed’ for the remainder of the insulating surface of the board. Once in position, a flash test is then performed across the board, testing for integrity.
The HAL104 from Clare is part of an advanced range of digital instruments which can perform the complete suite of standard electrical safety tests and allows full traceability of test results and records via internal data memory storage.
It combines the performance of a multi-function production line safety tester with load and power factor measurement for product energy consumption and ratings assessments.
As well as load and power functional tests, the new tester incorporates AC/DC Hipot, insulation, ground bond testing to 40A, load testing up to 20A (5kVA) with leakage measurements from 100 microAmps to 20 milliamps, with 10 microAmp resolution. More details here.
This year’s Product Safety Conference will attempt to put the safety of electrical products for the consumer into context by addressing a range of interrelated electronics manufacturing issues and distribution perspectives.
Hosted by the Electrical Safety Council (ESC) on 16th May at London’s Church House Conference Centre, the event will look at safety design principles for electrical products in relation to foreseeable misuse, and a review of consumer protection in terms of communicating risk.
However, a key focus of the conference will be an evaluation of recall processes and ‘traceability’ – i.e. how dangerous products are tracked within the supply chain and to consumers, for repair or return to the company issuing a recall notice. Traceability, which impacts on every stage of the electrical industry’s supply chain, is essential to an effective product recall.
“Over the last two years, UK product recalls have grown by almost 30%, with faulty and unsafe electrical consumer products a major contributor to this increase”, explains Martyn Allen, Head of Technical Development at the ESC.
“Although product recalls are usually issued because of a design or manufacturing fault, they can also arise through misleading labelling or supply chain issues – which is one reason why this is a conference that is relevant to the electrical product industry as a whole”. More details at www.esc.org.uk.
The UK Testing, Inspection and Certification (TIC) sector is expected to become a €2 billion industry by 2015, according to a report from Clearwater Corporate Finance.
The driving force behind this growth is the product quality and compliance demands of the consumer goods manufacturers. Consumer goods is now the most active market for TIC services with a 21 per cent share, followed by healthcare and life sciences (18 per cent) and industrials sector (17 per cent), and is expected to account for nearly a quarter (24 per cent) of all TIC services by 2015.
The report forecasts that the consumer goods industry will buy annually over €460m of TIC services in three years´ time. These will include a broad range of activities, including testing products to meet specific quality, technical, safety and performance regulatory standards; inspection services to ensure that goods comply with buyer´s specifications; and certification services to confirm the result of testing against pre-specified standards set by governments and international standardisation institutions.
Improved testing of robotic weld quality during automotive vehicle manufacturing is provided by the DO4000 range of high performance, digital milliohmmeters from Cropico.
The portable and rugged instrument includes several advanced features to accurately test the integrity of welding during body part assembly, as an integral part of advanced quality control programmes. It can also be used to improve the measurement of other areas of automotive production including testing resistance of airbag detonators and battery crimp terminations.
Special features of the DO4000 include forward and reverse current measurement with auto averaging, true current zero, long scale length and a selectable measurement range from 40mΩ to 4kΩ with respective resolutions between 10µΩ and 1Ω.
Protection up to 415V rms is provided at the measurement terminals and push button operation is achieved easily by clearly marked function controls. Direct reading measured values are displayed on a four-digit LCD display.
Over range and low battery indication is also provided and warning LEDs illuminate when an open circuit lead condition is detected.
New Regulations on the Use of Certain Hazardous Substances in Electrical and Electronic Equipment (RoHS) 2012 came into force at the beginning of this year to implement the recast RoHS Directive published last year.
The legislation was originally introduced to restrict the sale of equipment containing more than permitted levels of lead, cadmium, mercury, hexavalent chromium and certain flame retardant materials.
The new Regulations do not affect existing legal requirements related to electrical and electronic equipment and hazardous substances. What has changed is that the recast Directive is now aligned with other recent Directives in that the CE marking is used as proof of compliance.
The UK Market Surveillance Authority for this legislation is the National Measurement Office. If asked, manufacturers are required to send them an EU Declaration of Conformity and technical documentation or other information and such information must be retained for a period of ten years after the products in question are placed on the market. There is now a harmonised standard EN 50581:2012 for this technical documentation. More details at www.bis.gov.uk/nmo