Smart gas meters require thorough testing
The future is wireless – just take a look at your mobile phone, wireless loudspeakers, the Internet Of Things revolution and much more. Replacing cables with radio waves gives many advantages, but there is a downside: it adds to the technical complexity of the devices, and thus to the number of tests a new product has to undergo before being put on the market.
Manufacturers of consumption measurement devices are riding the radio wave too. Manual meter reading is a thing of the past. Measurement data is sent wireless and automatically to the billing system. Before they are allowed unto the market smart meters have to pass a tough technical exam. Apart from having to meet the specific requirements for gas or electricity meters the radio communication module of the device has to live up to the radio equipment directive (RED).
Do the tests yourself
Often it can be beneficial for the manufacturer to test as many parameters as possible in-house before engaging with an accredited test lab for the final testing of the product.
That is the approach FLONIDAN has chosen. Situated in Horsens and a part of the AVK Group, FLONIDAN designs and manufactures metering solutions for the gas and water business. The solutions cater to professionals in utility companies, service providers and across a wide range of industries. FLONIDAN offers a broad selection of product lines with product variants tailored to e.g. the British or the Dutch market. Every year FLONIDAN develops two or three new devices that need thorough testing to achieve the necessary certifications.
Instead of using different test labs for radio and ECM tests, FLONIDAN has chosen to trust EKTOS Testing & Reliability Services with both radio and EMC testing.
Electronics test in Copenhagen, HALT test in Struer
Hardware Engineer at FLONIDAN Bo Friis Hansen explains:
– We usually send one or two technicians to Copenhagen together with the equipment that is up for testing. That works well and saves time. With EKTOS providing two test engineers we can perform tests in two test chambers simultaneously. This means we can do a full ECM and radio test of a new product in three days. That is quick.
– We have used EKTOS for almost seven years, so by now we know each other really well, and we collaborate closely. We use EKTOS’ test lab in Struer as well, for HALT testing. All new products need a good shake, so we can identify possible weaknesses in them.
“With EKTOS providing two test engineers we can perform tests in two test chambers simultaneously. This means we can do a full ECM and radio test of a new product in three days. That is quick.” – Bo Friis Hansen, Hardware Engineer at FLONIDAN
Project Manager at EKTOS Testing & Reliability Services lab in Copenhagen David Busk elaborates:
– FLONIDAN is well acquainted with the tests that have to be done for a new device to meet the standards for gas. Early in their development process they start testing and they continue to run tests together with us in our lab. They focus on the gas part related to EMC, while we work on the EMC and radio parts. One of the specific rules regarding gas meters is that electromagnetic radiation must not influence the gas measurement in itself.
The FLONIDAN smart gas meters utilize a number of different radio technologies, like Wireless M-Bus, GSM, ZigBee and sub-ZigBee, dependent on which national standards and specifications the gas meters have to comply with.
“We use EKTOS’ test lab in Struer as well, for HALT testing. All new products need a good shake, so we can identify possible weaknesses in them.” – Bo Friis Hansen, Hardware Engineer at FLONIDAN
According to David Busk, the FLONIDAN development engineers are thorough people that are very interested in following the ECM and radio tests he and his colleagues are performing.
– In fact it is rather atypical for a customer to show that much interest in e.g. output power and antenna performance. We also do some special 3D antenna measurements for FLONIDAN. We use a special chamber with a table and a radio mast that can be tilted in different angles. We can measure the performance of the equipment in 3D and reveal if there are any blind spots, where radiation is lower than required.
Hardware engineer at FLONIDAN Bo Friis Hansen explains:
– The 3D measurement reveals a lot about the antenna’s performance, e.g. how directional the antenna is. That is important knowledge for us. Also we use the 3D measurements to measure TRP, Total Radiated Power, a test we have to perform for other certification processes.
If you are interested in getting the full picture regarding ECM and radio testing requirements for your products, please feel free to contact the EKTOS Testing & Reliability Services experts: CEO Kennet Palm (email firstname.lastname@example.org) and project manager David Busk (email email@example.com)
Established in 1982, FLONIDAN has built up 35 years of experience within design and development of metering solutions for the gas and water business. FLONIDAN is owned by the AKV Group and is headquartered in Horsens.
EKTOS Testing & Reliability Services