Engineering Management

Designing for EMC and other regulatory requirements is an important task in product development. This involves more than just the technical requirements that affect the physical design. It is also crucial that the product is fully supported through the regulatory evaluation which the project manager needs to incorporate into the overall product development plan. An often overlooked aspect is labeling and information that must be provided to the user in the supplied manuals. In some markets, such as the European Union (EU), in addition to the requirements for EMC and safety, there are also requirements for the restriction of hazardous substances (RoHS) and the management of waste of electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE). Each of these require further attention from the manufacturer and mandate some rather substantial documentation requirements.

Some countries require that a Technical Construction File (TCF) be created to accurately document all aspects of a product. Although it is not required to provide the TCF to the governments in advance of placing a product on their market, a company must have the ability to deliver it within 10 to 30 days of any governmental request (the time depends on the country). And as changes are made to the product, it will become necessary to update this TCF while still maintaining the product design history. The purpose of this documentation package is to have the ability to demonstrate compliance to the applicable regulations for all versions of the product that have been placed into service. Fulfilling this task goes beyond the product design cycle, extending it into manufacturing, documentation, product sustainability, and how to end the life of the product.

As more and more countries are expanding product regulations to include more than just EMC and safety, sustaining product deliveries throughout the globe is becoming more complex. Product life cycles require more documentation than in the past, and changes can have rippling effects affecting distribution channels. A good plan to manage the product life cycle while also maintaining regulatory compliance is, at best, a work in progress. Product designs with good life-cycle management produce sustainable products.