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  1. Unplanned Plant or Equipment Shutdown? EMI May Be Your Issue

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    Equipment failure and unplanned shutdowns can be catastrophic for a business. Operational disruptions can cost facilities hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost productivity and revenue. Missed project deadlines also damage your company’s reputation, and faulty equipment can put employee safety at risk.

    When you experience equipment shutdowns, quickly uncovering the cause is a priority. However, plants often fail to explore one common culprit: electromagnetic interference (EMI). If you trace the root cause of your shutdown to EMI and locate potential sources, then your facility can create an effective plan to protect your equipment and keep it running smoothly. Read on to learn about real-world examples of EMI-based malfunctions in various industries, and how companies can resolve the problem and improve the integrity of their operations with CoolBLUE® Inductive Absorbers.

    Understanding EMI and Its Impact

    Electronics play a vital role in virtually every industry. Manufacturing and processing plants, for example, have multiple layers of electronics, ranging from industrial equipment, climate control units, and lighting systems to appliances, administrative computers, and employees’ phones. All of these systems and devices may be running simultaneously within a compact space and creating electromagnetic interference.

    EMI is unintentional electronic noise that affects or disrupts circuits and electronics. It can cause humming, disrupt performance, power electronics on or off, or even cause electrical malfunctions that lead to excessive heat and create a fire risk. When equipment isn’t adequately shielded to mitigate interference, EMI can lead to significant equipment failure in diverse applications.

    Semiconductor Manufacturing

    Vladimir Kraz of Credence Technologies presented a paper titled “EMI Issues in Semiconductor Manufacturing Environment” in 2006 at the Taiwan ESD Symposium. In it, Kraz details the challenges EMI poses for the semiconductor manufacturing industry, such as:

    • Equipment malfunctions
    • Operational downtime
    • Parametric errors

    Even the cleanrooms that manufacturers use for processing sensitive semiconductor components are vulnerable. Such problems become increasingly severe as, due to technological advancements, equipment grows more sensitive to EMI. In semiconductor manufacturing settings, intentional emissions from on-site tools, parasitic emissions, and events of electrostatic discharge (ESD) can all result in conducted, radiated, or mixed EMI, causing anything from small malfunctions to full outages.

    Spacecraft Electronic Systems

    July 1995 NASA Reference Publication 1374, “Electronic Systems Failures and Anomalies Attributed to Electromagnetic Interference” edited by R.D. Leach and M.B. Alexander, discusses the impact that EMI has on electronic systems critical to missions in space. Like with semiconductor manufacturing, as systems in the aerospace sector have evolved, they’ve also become increasingly vulnerable to EMI, causing various operational anomalies and system failures.

    The reference publication provides multiple case histories of EMI-based challenges, giving such examples as: 

    • A preflight extraneous signal regarding the beat frequency of a Saturn launch vehicle
    • Anomalies with the Payload General Support Computer (PGSC) for Spacelab
    • Automobile, aircraft, and marine vessel systems in non-NASA contexts

    Ultimately, the paper concludes that electromagnetic compatibility is essential to successful missions in minimizing EMI.

    Consequences of Unplanned Shutdowns

    Unplanned shutdowns, regardless of the cause or duration, negatively impact operations. When equipment isn’t working properly, production or project missions come to a halt, with plant productivity and revenue taking a substantial hit. The likelihood of missing important deadlines increases, and facilities need to spend money on troubleshooting, repairs, and overtime labor. Outages can also lead to failure in safety systems and protocols, while malfunctions can cause electrical fires and an additional loss of assets. Companies that proactively invest in EMI shielding solutions for their equipment can realize an optimal ROI by avoiding the expense and risk of liability with plant shutdowns.

    The Solution

    Once you’ve determined that EMI is the cause of your equipment shutdowns and operation disruptions, the next step is choosing the optimal solution to resolve the issue, such as using inductive absorbers. CoolBLUE® Inductive Absorbers are common mode chokes, which effectively suppress EMI emitting from a power supply. They reduce common mode current’s effect, keeping EMI from disrupting the electrical components within shielded equipment. As a result, protected parts and equipment run more predictably, reducing the risk of downtime, costly malfunctions and maintenance, and unsafe conditions to keep your operations on track.

    Minimize Shutdown Risks With MH&W

    EMI is a significant problem across industries. With CoolBLUE® Inductive Absorbers from MH&W, your trusted supplier of choke and filter solutions for effective noise filtering, you can successfully protect your systems from EMI. Contact us to learn more about our custom product solutions and how MH&W can support your operations, or request a quote today.

  2. What is Electromagnetic Interference and What Does it Affect?

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    What is Electromagnetic Interference and What Does it Affect

    Electromagnetic interference (EMI) is the unintended generation or reception of electromagnetic energy that can disrupt the normal functioning of electronic circuits or devices. The noise comes from outside sources, including other devices and natural sources, and can have a detrimental impact on electronic devices. Understanding what EMI is and its impact on technology is critical to ensuring electronic devices and systems perform as expected and are unharmed by noise and interference.

    Nature and Types of EMI

    Electromagnetic waves are omnipresent and caused by Gamma rays, X-rays, UV light, visible light, infrared, microwaves, AM/FM radio, and 50/60Hz electric currents. Electromagnetic waves can be a source of electromagnetic interference or EMI. There are two different categories of EMI sources:

    • By Intention: EMI can be produced intentionally, such as EMI from cellular communication and AM/FM radio. Unintentional EMI can be noise from electronic devices and appliances, such as inverters or motors.
    • By Source: EMI can come from both natural and man-made sources. A natural source of EMI can include electrostatic discharge resulting from a lightning strike. Artificial sources of EMI include devices and machines, such as televisions, treadmills, radios, and fan motors.

    Causes and Sources of EMI

    EMI is unwanted electrical noise impacting electric power lines. It can harm electronic devices and systems and their performance. Various artificial and natural sources generate EMI, including HVAC equipment and natural UV light. Switching inductive, resistive, and capacitive loads from power supplies, electric motors, ballasts, and heaters can produce EMI.

    Effects and Implications of EMI

    EMI can negatively impact the function of electronics, resulting in substandard performance, faults, and permanent damage. The noise caused by EMI can result in surges and unintended currents that affect the function of cables. It can cause packet loss, network congestion, and retransmission in wireless receivers. EMI can corrupt, impair, or wipe data from disks, including solid state drives and hard drives. Medical applications can also be impacted by EMI, including lifesaving equipment like pacemakers. Systems that rely on radio or wireless communication can be impacted by EMI, including radios, telephones, and wireless networking equipment, resulting in poor signal or a loss of service.

    Managing and Mitigating EMI

    Electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is a machine or device’s capability to operate in an environment with other electronic equipment without interruption from EMI. EMC includes measuring a device’s immunity or susceptibility to EMI. Devices designed with EMC in mind reduce EMI, making them suitable for operating in an environment shared with other devices and equipment.

    EMC standards are set by national and regional regulators like the FCC. They provide acceptable EMC standards and EMI limits to ensure devices deliver expected performance and do not interfere with other devices. Design optimization and practical steps can help minimize EMI. Devices and equipment can be outfitted with an active EMI cancellation mechanism that senses and cancels EMI. They can be grounded or isolated using a room enclosed in a conductive material or Faraday cage. Operators can also move or shut down interfering devices to prevent EMI.

    Contact the EMI Prevention Experts

    The effects of EMI, whether intentional, natural, or artificial, are pervasive and often harmful enough that despite regulations and engineering best practices, not all devices will be safe or fully immune to it. Thankfully, other solutions exist to counteract EMI.

    Nanotech® common mode and differential mode nanocrystalline toroid cores reduce asymmetrical EMI currents and motor terminal overvoltage peaks. Our cores reduce damage risks to motors due to currents in the motor bearing that can cause lubrication breakdown, frosting, or fluting. Nanotech® cores act as a choke to prevent unwanted electric currents and absorb noise. Contact us or request a quote to learn more.

  3. Types of Electromagnetic Interference

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    What’s EMI? Electromagnetic interference (EMI) is electronic “noise” that generates from natural and artificial external sources and interferes with an electrical circuit or path. Also referred to as radio frequency interference, EMI can lead to anything from poor electronic device performance to physical damage, with the potential for component malfunction or full system failure. Learn more about the types of EMI interference, its effects, and how to prevent it.

    Types of Electromagnetic Interference

    EMI (electromagnetic interference) occurs between three parts: the source, path (electrical transmission method), and receptor (victim of the interference). EMI can travel from the source to the receptor by several path types.

    Radiated EMI

    Radiated EMI occurs when an electrical device serving as the receptor picks up on a far-off radio frequency. The source of such frequencies can be another electronic device or high-powered components like transmitters. Either way, this EMI negatively impacts the receptor and its performance. For example, your Wi-Fi signal may fail when someone uses an outdated cordless phone. Radiated EMI covers both broadband EMI, when malfunctioning devices affect a broad spectrum of radio frequencies, and narrowband EMI, when devices like radio transmitters impact a small range of frequencies.

    Coupled EMI

    With two transmission methods, coupled EMI impacts a receptor when it and the power source are in close proximity but not physically joined. Capacitively coupled EMI happens when parallel conductors are extremely close and, between them, accumulate a capacitive electrical charge. This type of coupled EMI affects circuit boards or long, closely grouped wires. The second transmission method, inducted or magnetically coupled EMI, is like a hum on an audio line when audio and power cables are located close by one another. When inducted EMI occurs, the magnetic field from one conductor induces interference in another.

    Conducted EMI

    When an electronic device includes a physical path for electricity to transfer from source to receptor, as is the case in power transmission lines, conducted EMI can occur. Large motors and power supplies like clothes dryers and treadmills can cause EMI in systems like computers, resulting in circuit reboot.

    What Are the Effects of Electromagnetic Interference?

    EMI sources in data centers can be a challenge to detect. When they go unmanaged, however, EMI can impact cables, hardware, and servers, even exposing your data center to electromagnetic field (EMF) attacks.

    Data center cables can experience voltage surges when unintended currents generate from nearby EMFs. In turn, this interference with the cables can impact data center functionality. EMI can also interrupt remote receivers that identify data packets, causing network congestion due to the retransmission of the dropped packets. Low-frequency EMI, in particular, is harmful to data center hardware, potentially resulting in complete solid-state drive (SSD) and hard drive data loss.

    How to Protect Against EMI

    Cheaply or unskillfully made components often lack the necessary shielding or sufficient product testing to effectively prevent EMI. The same can be said of counterfeit electronics. Also, while numerous countries worldwide have set EMI standards for their electronics, that doesn’t mean that internationally manufactured devices will adhere specifically to U.S. standards. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mandates that domestic companies test their electronic devices to ensure they meet U.S. emission standards, which aim to prevent devices from generating EMI that would impact other devices.

    To successfully avoid electrical interference, you should:

    • Source quality electronics. Working with parts and devices from suppliers with proven track records is one of the most important ways to increase your chances of receiving quality products that safeguard against EMI.
    • Use current filters and error corrections. Today’s advancements lessen the chance that EMI from other devices will impact your components.
    • Remember EMI in high-speed wired network planning. Wired networks require separation between data and power lines. Using twisted pair shielded cables can also enhance signal quality.
    • Include wireless network planning. To successfully plan your wireless network, take into account the number, location, and power of any power transmission sites and lines as well as radio frequency sources close by.
    • Swap out copper for fiber-optic cables. EMI doesn’t affect fiber-optic cables, making them an ideal alternative to copper cables.

    Contact MH&W for Help Today

    EMI results in unintended interruptions or damage to electronics. Taking precautions, such as using quality electronics and shielding, can reduce the likelihood of EMI. At MH&W International Corp., we understand how detrimental EMI can be. We’ve delivered high-performance magnetic parts and cores since 1964, specializing in innovative noise-filtering solutions within filters and chokes for solar, wind, EV, VFD, and motor applications. To learn more about our products for effective EMI prevention, contact us today.

  4. The Career of Marge Janitschek at MH&W

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    In April 2023, Marge Janitschek, purchasing manager at MH&W International Corp, celebrated 50 years with the company. As part of a recent Q&A session, Marge shared details about her current position and how her role and the industry have changed over time.

    The Career of Marge Janitschek at MH&W

    When did you begin working at MH&W?

    I joined MH&W back on April 30, 1973.

    What does your current role involve?

    Right now, I’m responsible for purchasing and supply line management with approximately 10 vendors located in Europe and Asia. These vendors fall under three divisions of MH&W: cores and components, filters and TIM, and gaskets and seals. I’m also involved in receiving operations, as well as entering and processing purchase orders and material transfer orders for value-added orders.

    What does a typical day look like for you?

    A usual day for me consists of:

    • Checking the vendor portals for stock availability and in-transit items
    • Entering new parts into the software databases
    • Entering and sending purchase orders to vendors
    • Updating new incoming delivery dates for all open POs
    • Tracing the whereabouts of in-transit products
    • Optimizing minimum and maximum inventory levels based on input from the sales division about future use and product history
    • Replying to customers asking for compliance forms for specific parts, such as RoHS, REACH, etc.

    How has your role changed since you started at MH&W?

    The most dramatic change was that, starting in order processing, I’ve seen and lived through the transition from manual entries to digital platforms. On average, a manual order took three days to enter, process, and ship, while now an order can ship within the same day. After five years in order processing, I transitioned to inventory maintenance, in which a computer system for purchasing was installed and greatly improved our lead times. From inventory management, MH&W promoted me to purchasing manager, the position I hold today.

    Is there anything else you would like to share regarding your experience at MH&W?

    MH&W was and is a great place to work, and I’ve experienced the evolving changes in the world and the work environment. New skills were developed and required to keep up with the automation and digitalization of almost all business processes. This is an endless learning process.

    I’ve witnessed the evolution of technology in my lifetime. For example, when I started at MH&W, I was working in collaboration with several research facilities, such as Lawrence Livermore and Brookhaven, to provide very large, soft magnetic ferrite rings to create and harness the potential power of fusion. Now, after my 50 years of service and the observation of research and experimentation results, fusion reactors are closer to becoming a reality.

    Technology has moved me from an analog to a digital world. In the 1970s, Bell Telephone Labs developed the ability to switch the telephone system from analog to digital. All central switching stations in telecommunications and telephones were converted to digital communication from rotary touch-tone telephones. I was part of the transition in handling the tremendous amount of ferrites used by AT&T, later called Lucent, Northern Telecom, and others.

    Also, there’s the commercialization of the cell phone. As part of MH&W, I was instrumental in procuring and selling large amounts of microwave components imported from TDK in Japan for the development of cell phone networks for Motorola and GE.

    The Career of Marge Janitschek at MH&W

    Learn more about MH&W

    Since MH&W’s beginnings in 1964, the company has developed into an industry leader in high-performance nanocrystalline components, magnetic cores, power conversion parts, and noise-filtering and EMI-prevention solutions. Our team of experienced engineers serves clients across North America with inductive and line absorbers, filters, and chokes for EV, VFD, solar, and wind applications. Our goal is to deliver standard and custom products that help our clients be competitive in their various markets. To learn more about MH&W and our capabilities, contact us today.