Currently, the problem of EMI is tackled using a “rulebased” approach. What this means is that during the design phase for a piece of electronic equipment a number of guidelines/standards are prescribed, resulting in the default application of a set of mitigation techniques (filtering, shielding, cable routing, etc.). But as the examples above illustrate, such an approach has some serious flaws when it comes to modern high-tech systems and high-criticality applications like medical systems and remote vehicles. This is because tackling the problem by applying rules leads to too many failure scenarios being overlooked and giving us a very false sense of security when it comes to how reliable and safe a new system actually is. Therefore, in order to make sure that people’s safety is not compromised in this way, the PETER consortium will initiate a novel and much more robust “risk-based” approach to EMI management.
The weakness of the rule-based approach is that although it instinctively feels right, it has several major shortcomings. Firstly, we have no certainties when it comes to knowing whether these mitigation strategies, or rules, are really sufficient. Even if we could be sure of this, most of us know from experience that standards always lag behind technological developments and are based on economic and technical compromises. Perhaps the biggest worry is that immunity testing in electromagnetic compatibility standards only covers one EMI disturbance at a time, meaning that simultaneous EMI effects are not addressed. Added to this we have the problem that the testing of large installations is limited to just the sub-systems being evaluated when they are brand new. But of course EMI is a “whole system” property with many of the effects resulting from environmental factors like ageing, vibration, and temperature, as well as manufacturing variability or the impact of maintenance, repairs and upgrades.
What is needed is a truly interdisciplinary – but also revolutionary – approach to this very serious problem. A safer environment based on assessing risk requires bringing together expertise from 4 key areas – electromagnetic compatibility, reliability engineering, functional safety and risk management – and the implementation of a risk-based approach. The PETER project will consider the complete system over its whole lifecycle, i.e., from the earliest concept to the final decommissioning. The risk-based approach, which will eventually replace the out-dated rule-based approach in high tech systems, involves 3 steps: hazard-and-risk analysis, risk reduction, verification and validation.
PETER’s main goal is to train 15 early-stage researchers (ESRs) in topics related to the development of hightechnology systems that maintain reliability and safety over their full life-cycle, despite these systems being subjected to severe and complex EMI threats. The project combines intensive training and doctoral research. It is this combination that makes PETER fit so well in the context of a European Training Network. Our aim is not just to train the ESRs to become good researchers, we also want to train them to think differently, to give them a different mind-set, to make them to always think in terms of risk rather than rules. The well-structured training programme will involve the 15 ESRs in the development of dependable high-technology systems with a focus on EMI risk management. The project will do this by creating a new training programme that offers top doctoral candidates from all over the world the opportunity to work in an international, multidisciplinary group of leading research institutions and industrial partners involved in EMI-aware design; statistical electromagnetics; reliability and system safety engineering; threat, hazard-and-risk analysis; faulttolerant and fail-safe hardware/software design; as well as EMI modelling from IC to system-level. The already well established collaborations between the institutions involved will ensure that the network runs smoothly, while strengthening the interactions and the exchange of academic and non-academic resources. PETER aims at a risk-based approach to the problem of EMI in complex systems at large enterprises as well as to stimulate the development of new technologies through spin-offs and SMEs.
Running in parallel with its training objectives, PETER has 4 scientific and technical (S&T) objectives based around 4 S/T Work Packages (WPs):
- To develop dedicated hazard-and-risk analysis techniques that identify all EMI-related risks and hazards for a system under development in its actual operating electromagnetic environment (WP1).
- To develop effective EMI risk-reduction techniques in hardware and software, and to reduce the risks to the level where they are no longer unacceptable with respect to reliability or safety (WP2).
- To improve EMI verification-and-validation methods that represent a much broader area of the lifecycle of the system as well as of the system’s actual electromagnetic environment (WP3).
- To apply a practical, industry-driven EMI risk-management methodology during 4 case studies, see Figure 2, from different industrial sectors (maritime, medical, automotive, critical infrastructures) and at different design levels (integrated circuits, subsystems, systems and networks of systems) (WP4).
Each of the 15 ESRs will be working towards a PhD degree, supported by an intersectoral and international supervisory board comprising at least one academic and one non-academic supervisor, as well as one supervisor from a country different than that of the main host. This triplesupervisor approach, from which all 15 ESRs will benefit, provides the perfect support to the ESRs, giving them the opportunity to gain experience and see the problem from both industrial and academic perspectives. In addition, we believe that PETER’s ambitious S&T objectives will be met through our strategy of putting the 4 industry-driven application case studies central to the training and research programme.
BENEFICIARIES AND PARTNERS
The PETER Beneficiaries are 6 high-technology companies, including Barco and Melexis (BE), Nedap and RHM (NL), MIRA (UK), and Valeo (FR), 2 non-university research institutes, WIS and FHG (GE), and 5 universities, KU Leuven (BE), LUH (GE), UTwente (NL), UoY (UK), and ESEO (FR). The consortium is completed by 6 Partner Organisations that include 4 companies, a hospital and a university. Overall, PETER has some of the best of European industry and the key academic players, guaranteeing an exciting interdisciplinary, intersectoral research-and-training programme.
METHODOLOGY AND APPROACH
The PETER project is based on 7 Work Packages (WPs), four of which are S&T WPs (WP1–4), one for training (WP5), one for Exploitation, Dissemination and Communication (WP6) and one for Management (WP7). The training and research activities start at month 7, with the first 6 months being devoted to the ESRs’ recruitment. The S&T WPs are organized along 4 research tracks covering, on the one hand, the 3 main elements in a risk-based approach (risk identification, risk reduction and verification & validation) and, on the other, the application case studies. The full overview of ESRs can be found here.