“Please turn off all personal electronic devices, including laptops and cell phones. Thank you!”
Many of us who have boarded a commercial flight are familiar with this quirk of air travel. If you own a smartphone, it likely features a toggle called “Airplane Mode” somewhere in your settings. Why? And what does it have to do with manufacturing?
The answer is Electromagnetic Interference, or EMI.
Historically, cell phones are considered a culprit of EMI, which can impact the performance of navigation instruments in a plane. In manufacturing, EMI plays an even bigger role in producing “dirty power” that can pollute an electrical system.
This could be a major factor behind your factory’s unplanned downtime when equipment falters or the entire system shuts down.
What is EMI?
Electromagnetic interference (EMI) or radio frequency interference (RFI) consist of electromagnetic signals that interfere with the normal operation of electrical devices or equipment.
EMI can cause a host of dirty power symptoms, including:
- Equipment failure
- Erratic equipment performance (stuttering, lagging, slowdowns)
- Flickering or dimmed lights or screens
- Breakers tripping for unclear reasons
- Motor overloads
- And more
EMI not only impacts the day-to-day performance of electrical equipment but also degrades its lifespan and drives up maintenance and repair costs.
What causes EMI?
EMI originates from two common sources: Natural or Inherent.
Sometimes called static or atmospheric noise, Natural EMI comes from snowstorms, rain particles, lightning, solar radiation (such as solar flares) or even fluctuations in the Earth’s magnetic field.
Often called 'noise,' Inherent EMI arises from structural weaknesses in the design or implementation of electronic equipment. Common weaknesses include overheating caused by circuit resistance, switching systems, and improper grounding technique.
As technology enables smaller and smaller applications, components can be crowded together, contributing to inherent EMI.
How Can I Reduce or Eliminate EMI?
Dirty power results from a broad range of potential or interrelated causes, making it difficult to easily identify the root problem.
The engineering team at Premier Automation has extensive experience in assessing critical components of EMI, including voltage, loading, grounding, and harmonic currents. Our engineers will work closely with you to evaluate your system or equipment and deliver cost-effective, custom-tailored automation solutions.
If you're seeking a true electrical control partner for your next project, contact one of our engineers for a free consultation. Find out how Premier Automation can deliver innovative answers to your toughest automation questions.