what is a Harsh or Demanding Environment?
What is a Harsh or Demanding Environment?
This term can refer to a large variety of challenging environments.
Generally, if it’s a harsh environment for a human, you can be quite sure that electronics will be starting to experience a hard time. These are the kinds of environments that need to be considered:
- Extreme temperatures (high and low) – Cold temperatures affect capacitors, significantly reducing their capacitance which in turns leads to start-up difficulties and then poor output ripple performance until they warm up. Cold temperatures also bring brittleness to most parts, from screws through glues to solder. High temperatures mean the power supply can overheat, although it is normal to have a high-temperature ‘cut-out’. If operated close to its’ limit life then life will be shortened. A rough rule of thumb is that reliability halves for every 10C increase, so it’s important to keep temperatures down.
- High humidity/Wetness – Can cause electrical shorts unless assemblies are conformally coated. Also causes corrosion.
- Sand & Dust – Clogs up air intakes/heatsinks, increasing temperatures. Can combine with condensed moisture to become both conductive and corrosive.
- Electrostatic discharge (ESD) – Can cause damage to sensitive electronic devices unless they are ‘buffered’.
- Electromagnetic interference (EMI) – May cause the power supply to be degraded in performance (susceptibility) or cause nearby electronic equipment to fail (emissions).
- Shock and vibration – Transportation can give high shock levels if not well-cushioned. High vibration is generally only an issue for military use and can bring about mechanical fatigue in component leads, wiring and connections. It can also cause fasteners to loosen and glues to fracture.
Applications Requiring Rugged Power Supply
There are a huge variety of different industries that operate in harsh or demanding environments. These all require high levels of power protection, because of the environment they operate in and the type of service they offer.
This is a short example of the types of industries that may require this level of power protection due to the environments they operate within.
- Oil & gas exploration
- Mining operations
- Remote communications facilities
- Toll roads
- Research centres
- Water treatment plants
- Fishing Vessels
- Automotive manufacturing
- Transportation and Haulage
- Air operations
- Medical services
- Defence operations (Army, Navy, RAF etc)
- Space exploration
Why You Need Rugged Power Supply
Most power supplies are built to be shut in their own private room in a building, which is dust-free, dry, and heat regulated. This is a power suppliers dream, as it’s an electronically habitable environment.
When it comes to harsh and demanding environments it’s essential that power designers take the challenges into account at the design stage. The specific environmental conditions that the product will be used in will heavily influence the product specifications.
A rugged power supply will incorporate these environmental specifications to create a power supply that will not falter and ensures a smooth and constant level of power whenever it’s needed!
Tailored Power Supplies for Harsh Environments
Only a few power supply manufacturers offer the level of supply needed for harsh and demanding environments. Celab has a wealth of experience with creating bespoke rugged power supplies for the military industry.
We compete shoulder-to-shoulder in the global power supply market, designing and producing power solutions for land-based, naval and avionic applications. Our defence customers benefit directly, by accessing the experience we’ve gained over our 40-year history.
Celab ability to design for harsh environments also extends to other markets. Recently Celab designed an industrial 9 kW, three-phase, power factor corrected converter. The power supply is designed to operate in an environment where the air is filled with electrically conductive particles. Cooling this apparatus is thus particularly demanding as ambient air cannot be used to directly cool the electronics. The cooling solution adopted increases the difficulty of meeting the Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) requirements. However, Celab has fully qualified the units to class A for both conducted and radiated emissions.
Celab Products and Services
We offer a full design and validation service, complying with the most stringent standards and certifications. We pride ourselves on our innovation and professionalism and ensure our manufacturing and test services are continually improved. Here at Celab, we adhere to the highest standards through our missions and values, as well as ‘best in class’ manufacturing.
Celab understands that technology is advancing at an alarming rate, so we also offer reverse engineering design, to support our long-standing customers with any obsolescence product needs.