Jonathan Newell talks to Element’s Mark Heaven about the company’s most recent acquisition and how it aligns with the future of EMC testing.
Global test and accreditation organisation Element Materials Technology has made its latest acquisition with the purchase of Northwest EMC, a US-based test house with laboratory facilities located throughout the country in California, Minnesota, Oregon, Texas and Washington.
Prior to the acquisition, as part of its portfolio of 57 test laboratories, Element had 15 Product Qualification Testing laboratories with seven in the EU, seven in the USA and one in China. Therefore adding a further five in the USA has improved the geographical spread within the country and significantly added to Element’s capacity.
However, according to Element’s Director of Aerospace Product Qualification Testing, Mark Heaven, increased capacity and a wider geographical spread were not the only factors in choosing Northwest EMC. “The company is involved in the aerospace industry but is also very strong in wireless technology and the medical sector,” he said.
Both wireless technology and healthcare information and communication technology (ICT) are growing areas which share common links. There is likely to be high growth in the demand to provide accreditation services, particularly in the medical sector, according to Heaven.
The healthcare industry is struggling to cope with a population that is living longer. This results in higher numbers of people with medical conditions such as diabetes or needing joint replacement, hence a need to push care services out of the wards and into people’s homes. Much of this relates to monitoring and managing health conditions, requiring new connected monitoring equipment. As connectivity within the healthcare industry matures, remote diagnostic capabilities enable people in remote communities to access medical support.
“This is leading to a lot of innovation in the industry and a corresponding increase in certification testing and the development of new standards,” Heaven said.
With existing skills in wireless and healthcare at Northwest EMC, Element is now poised to take on the challenge of increased demand in testing services for both of these technologies, as well as being able to influence the development of related standards.
Being involved in the development of new standards and the amendment of existing ones is high on the list of priorities for Element. The company prides itself on having influence with the standards authorities on making sure the standards are workable, achieve their aim and are able to be tested against.
One standard that the company is currently engaged in developing is for Wireless Power Transfer technology, predominantly for use in the automotive industry for wireless charging electric vehicles.
Steve Hayes of Element is also the Chairman of the EMC Test Labs Association and he is part of a team working on standards for the IEC and CISPR to ensure international harmonisation of wireless power transfer testing regimes.
“It is important for our experts to be involved in the development of standards to provide input on the practical aspects of their implementation,” added Heaven. He went on to say that it also helps to keep the company’s client base informed about the latest developments so they can prepare for them. Additionally, as these standards develop and mature, Element is able to provide feedback to the standards organisations to assist in their evolution.
From acquisition to integration
Following the pattern of previous acquisitions Element has made, the company is keen to involve Northwest EMC in all of its activities, including standards development as well as the direct services it offers. This is no easy task in any acquisition, but it is something that Element has some experience in. Northwest EMC will follow the same concise six-month integration process that previous companies have successfully been through.
This process touches all aspects of the company’s operations from back-office accounts through to customer engagement. “This is a very well-managed approach that results in full integration by the end of the process,” Heaven asserts.