Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Safety in medical electrical equipment starts with the power input

Medical technology uses a wide range of electrical equipment. During normal operation and in the event of a malfunction, it is imperative that the equipment does not pose any danger to patients or medical staff. A piece of equipment that causes a short circuit or residual current can trigger a protective system upstream and in doing so shut down other, possibly life sustaining, equipment. Thus, it is necessary to pay special attention to how each unit is supplied with power. Connectors and power entry modules used in the equipment are tested to component standards and if in compliance with these standards can generally be used in most equipment without additional testing. This is especially true for medical equipment, where extensive requirements regarding safety are in effect, as defined in the base standard for medical electrical equipment, IEC/UL 60601-1. In addition, there are a wide range of specific requirements for each category of equipment according to IEC 60601-x-xx. The IEC standards for medical electrical equipment are harmonized with UL so that the same requirements are also in effect for equipment in North America.

Medical devices can be connected directly to the mains or with a detachable power cord. Such plug connections must meet the requirements of Standard IEC 60320. Depending on the application, it is recommended to include a mechanism to protect against any unintentional removal of the plug from the equipment's power socket. SCHURTER offers the V-Lock cord retaining solution, a simple, attractive and alternative system to using brackets. With the V-Lock solution, the power socket is equipped with a notch that interlocks with a special latch on the connector on the power cord. The system prevents the cord from being pulled out of the socket unintentionally. The advantage of this solution is that no cord-retaining system specific to a unit's power socket or retaining bracket must be adapted and attached. SCHURTER offers a wide range of power cords with or without V-Lock for various countries. As part of the assortment, a «hospital grade» cord set is available for medical applications in North America.

As a safety test, the base standard for medical electrical equipment specifies a high-voltage test of 1.5 kVAC between L and N as well as between L/N and earth (PE). To PE, the 1.5 kVAC corresponds to the values of the filter standard and can be met without any problem. However, a filter between L and N should not be tested with 1.5 kVAC because its capacitors could be damaged. Therefore, here IEC/UL 60601-1 makes an exception for interference suppression capacitors, which can be removed for a high-voltage test if they have been tested to IEC 60384-14. All X and Y capacitors used in SCHURTER power-line filters are tested to IEC 60384-14, so no additional high-voltage testing is necessary. 

Furthermore, following fabrication, all SCHURTER power-line filters are subjected to a rigorous high-voltage test of at least 1.5 kVAC between L/N and PE; filters of Protection Class 2 are even tested to levels of 4 kVDC between the energized conductors L/N and the housing. SCHURTER offers a variety of Class 2 power-line filters for medical equipment designed for home use. Electrical equipment used in medical technology must fulfill high requirements in terms of safety. This protects both the patient and medical staff. This protection begins with the safe supply of electric power. SCHURTER offers a wide range of power sockets and power entry modules with and without power-line filters as well as filters for use in a broad range of equipment. 

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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Protecting sensors simply and securely

Sensors of various types help monitor and control processes. They relieve people of tasks, particularly in dangerous environments, and simplify work processes. Often sensors are equipped with a sort of "intelligence" in the form of electronics that process the sensor signal. Further, many sensors have a communications interface so they can transfer data over a network to a central computer. The application range of sensors is equally large and continues to grow: smoke alarms, motion detectors, temperature sensors, humidity sensors, level detectors, smart meters as well as flow and volume metering are just a few of the application areas, whereby this list could continue indefinitely.

In order to meet the requirements of sensor protection in an optimal way, SCHURTER developed the USx line for overcurrent protection in secondary circuits. The USx line consists of six types in various SMD sizes from 0402 to 1206 and with rated currents from 50 mA to 25 A. Considerable breaking capacity as large as 600 A at rated voltages of up to 125 VAC/VDC make the chip fuses in the USx line unique in the market. The partially gold-plated contacts also have a positive impact on usability, storage life and the electrical qualities of USx fuses. The special design of these chip fuses also results in a low voltage drop. A further aspect that makes the USx line special is the tripping time. The SCHURTER fuse reacts with a typical tripping time as short as 0.5 milliseconds with a tolerance band of from 0.4 to 0.6 milliseconds. These performance characteristics also do not change even under high pulsed loads such as those that can arise in an environment with electronically commuted motors.

The UMT-H, UMF 250 and UMT 250 SMD fuses were developed for primary protection on SMD circuit boards. They are designed for rated voltages as large as 277 VAC, respectively 250 VDC and are available with various current ratings. With a high breaking capacity extending up to 1500 A, the UMx line offers the ideal solution when dealing with high fault currents. The cuboidal design of the UMx line meets all the requirements of SMD technology as regards processing. Based on their encapsulated qualities, they can also be used in potentially explosive atmospheres. The model UMT 250 is also available with pre-attached clips.

Sensors are used everywhere in the world. Whether they are battery driven or powered from the grid, it is important to have suitable protection for electronics. For this purpose, SCHURTER offers such SMD fuses for primary and secondary protection. These fuses stand out due to their compact design, low power dissipation and a tight time tolerance for tripping.

Visit our website for more information
Download the whitepaper.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Customer Segmentation at SCHURTER

The segmentation of customers by industries serves the targeted working of the market. With this categorization, specific requirements can be recognized better and therefore also served better.

SCHURTER has known about the division of products by strategic business units for a long time. For example, all fuses, fuse holders, circuit breakers and voltage selectors are collected together in the strategic equipment protection business unit. From the point of view of the company, this approach is certainly meaningful since the different disciplines and competences can be bundled within a certain solutions area through this division. Therefore, we would like to stick to these known divisions.

For customers, however, such a product-oriented division makes only limited sense. Through this, we can market our competence in the equipment protection area, in other words for current-surge protection, for example. While doing so, however, very different requirements emerge depending on the area of application along with the framework terms and conditions that must be complied with and which vary significantly in terms of authorization.

This is where the segmentation by industries begins. This division takes into consideration the similar requirements of the customers. This presupposes that the individual industry areas can be fundamentally differentiated from each other. From this point of view, countless divisions would now be possible. Therefore, a certain amount of weight is also placed on a view into the future. The segmentation therefore is also oriented to projected earnings.

SCHURTER has selected a limited number of product ranges for this which primarily comply with common norm standards, demonstrate a certain degree of stability and also have great potential for future business. For this, the measurability of the market and the development of SCHURTER were taken into consideration. For us, it is of corresponding importance whether we are even perceived as a supplier. The marketing of our offering comes precisely into play right here and very much depends on potential customers also processing and noticing this information.

The segmentation by industries is very important for us in our working of the markets. Our objective is to achieve at least 50% of our revenues through distribution channel with this strategy. Accordingly, an assignment by segment cannot be directly influenced here. For this reason, we are first concentrating on the second 50%, which we work directly. Here we will differentiate the processing depending on the support. In a few branches, such as, for example, the automobile industry or space, collaboration with the development plays a central role. Therefore, for this we will also use key customer advisors, who are familiar with the development process and close to the customer. But for example, in medical technology, things look different because applicable global norm standards are in place now. We can cover these very well with our standard range of products.

Newly edited segments at SCHURTER:
  1. Industrial Equipment 
  2. Medical Equipment 
  3. Data & Communication
  4. Avionics & Space
  5. Automotive
Visit our SCHURTER website for more details

Monday, September 26, 2016

SCHURTER IP Protection

SCHURTER offers various components which not only offer an increased protection factor within them but also offer the possibility of installing the components to the housing wall without leaks. These are the components in the area of power supply, such as device connector plugs, device connector plugs with line filter or fuse holder, but also operational elements such as switches, buttons or device circuit breakers. We have differentiated two fundamental levels of function in regards to IP protection:

IP protection to the device: Depending on the functionality of the device, the seal of the device plug combination element can be shaped manifold. For a device plug with a fuse holder and filter the seal concept is composed of various measures. Usage examples for those seeking to seal a device:
  • devices sealed for cleanliness purposes (medical devices, kitchen appliances)
  • battery-powered outdoor devices
  • devices with sensitive electronics/mechanics in dusty environments
  • devices whose internals are under vacuum
IP protection to the device including power supply: The seal of the device plug can now be extended to the protection of plug connections. This additional safeguard assures a certain protection against the unwanted entry of moisture and dust when working with power cables that are plugged in. When plugged into a cable socket, the seal prevents liquids and dust on the plug pins from reaching live parts, as well as from ending up in the socket. Examples where sealing of a device including protection of the power supply is desired:
  • medical devices (endoscopy,laboratory equipment) and electrical measuring devices
  • ultrasonic cleaning devices
  • commercial kitchen appliances, food preparation

SCHURTER offers you a large selection of products with increased IP protection, which are tailored to their respective needs and functions.

Fuseholders IP 54 IP 65 IP 67 IP 68
Connectors IP 54 IP 65
Circuit Breakers IP 54 IP 65
Input Systems IP 64 IP 65 IP 66 IP 67 IP 68 IP 69K
EMC-Products IP 65

A detailed product overview can be found on our SCHURTER website
Download the whitepaper.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Challenge – The First Step, SEP – Successful Beginning

Since 1 April, SCHURTER has a new group company in Poland. The managing director Mariusz Duczek at SCHURTER Electronics Sp. z o.o. is proud to report on the preparations and the beginning the enterprise.

Change is a constant in this world. A challenge of mastering change is an attractive vision for executives in my opinion. My first contact with SCHURTER was 18 years ago and lasted only a moment – a provider of a broad range of products. History repeats itself. During the job interview it was clear that the SCHURTER expansion into Poland would be a major challenge. I had not expected that I would be the head of this project. But dreams come true and the actual adventure began when I came to Luzern in September 2015.

In the first place, it was culture shock. For someone like me, someone from Eastern Europe, the lived corporate culture and the respect for foreign people and cultures at SCHURTER is something very unique. Secondly, the exchange of knowledge, networking, relationships and personal trust from management were unbelievably motivating for me to become a valuable member of the SCHURTER family. Living with a Swiss family, a few excursions, a view of Pilatus every day, and many training sessions all provided me with a good basis for understanding the spirit and vision of the company. It was a decisive and necessary experience for feeling the expectation and the responsibility.

The project began and a weekly list with corrections for unexpected obstacles was kept. Every day, we made some progress in little steps. The major challenge was the annual budget with the high startup costs on one side and the difficult to predict revenues on the other. We lost a good first quarter because the start was planned for 1 April 2016. In addition to this, there were new terms and conditions for the distributors and the takeover of these sales channels. This was not so simple. To be honest, it is still just a pure calculation into the future of how to build up direct sales, increase the distributors channel, and thus achieve the breakeven point as quickly as possible. The game has already started and we are on the right track.

The decisive factor for our success is the team: Katarzyna Juszczak for sales, Magdalena Glejzer for finance, Maciej Osowiecki as the field sales engineer and me as managing director. We are all aware of our roles, the strategy and the expansion objectives. This was apparent when everyone worked as a concentrated team during the SAP implementation. IT supported us very well during this implementation.

Is the SCHURTER organization in Poland still a challenge? When I think about it now, I have the impression that it is more a passion, and there is satisfaction and pride in being responsible for this project. Organizational transformation – yes, ambitious goals – surely, dreams of success and great optimism – those are my initial associations. We have just begun and would like to climb to the top. The prospects are good and the challenge is only the first step.

For information check our website.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

A New SCHURTER Website

A website is something like a display window for a company. For this reason, the more than five-year old SCHURTER web presence was renewed and adjusted to current practices.

The SCHURTER website is valued by many customers, since it has all of the necessary information presented in a simple way. An adjustment was made particularly necessary through the new company organization, since the input systems sector not only continually becomes more important through higher revenues but also through the integration of Danielson. 

However, the product catalog only plays a minor role here, while competence in the area of technology applications is of greater importance and is presented correspondingly. Also, in the still young Solutions division it is just as important to show the different competencies in the product life cycle, which should increase the confidence for collaborating with SCHURTER as a service provider.

For the development of the new website, specific customer interviews were conducted, key usage numbers were collected for the current site, and usability concepts were gathered from the fashion industry. The world’s best Internet shops were also examined to prepare the new structure of the website. The design went through several steps and then was also verified by an independent consulting firm before the data maintenance could begin. The analyses showed very different user profiles, which all would like to be optimally served. For this purpose, corresponding role models and possible entry scenarios were developed and information paths were optimized specifically for a completion point.

The scope of the functions provided now presented serious problems for our new implementation partner during migration, since these functions often are only completely understood by specialists. This meant that the implemented solutions could not be enabled immediately but rather had to be adapted to customer requirements during complex test procedures. Because of this, it also was not possible to stick to the timetable.  

We are convinced that we can provide a fully developed website, which is modern, versatile, multilingual, quickly available and secure. Furthermore, it can also be easily adapted to local requirements. We hope that it will also fulfill the goals set in the coming years.

Visit our new website.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Leakage Currents in the Right Perspective

Electrical installations must have the property of functioning satisfactorily in their electro-magnetic environment (immunity) without affecting that environment (emission) in an intolerable manner. This is referred to as electromagnetic compatibility. 

We make a differentiation between radiated and conductive interferences. With conductive interference, there are symmetrical as well as asymmetrical interferences (also known as push-pull and push-push interference). Symmetrical interference flows between phase and neutral whereas asymmetrical interference flows between phase/ neutral and earth (ground). The causes of these kinds of interferences are network switches, frequency converters, processors, switching operations in electronic or electrical installations, motor controls, etc. Symmetrical interferences are attenuated with X-capacitors. 

For the attenuation of asymmetrical interferences, current compensated chokes are used for lower interference frequencies and Y-capacitors for the higher interference frequencies. These Y-capacitors are connected between phase/neutral and earth, and conduct the asymmetrical interferences rom phase/neutral to earth. Leakage currents ensue from this. The bigger the capacitors, the better the attenuation with correspondingly higher leakage currents.

Parasitic coupling capacities of an installation or equipment as well as long power lines also contribute to the leakage current of a filter. These lead to a summation of leakage currents that flow through the earth conductor that can give rise to a safety risk. Should a person touch an item of equipment having a defective (broken) earth conductor, the leakage current will flow through that person to earth. 

On the other hand, any residual current circuit breakers connected in a building network influence the reliable operation of equipment resulting from too high a leakage current. These residual current circuit breakers detect currents flowing in the earth conductor and disconnect the supply voltage should a certain threshold value be exceeded. For this reason, there are threshold values for leakage currents that permit reliable operation and ensure that even with defective earth connections, no person is injured.

Filter manufacturers specify leakage currents in their data sheets. The IEC filter standard does not define, however, how these specifications are to be carried out. This leads then to a situation where different manufacturers are not obliged to use the same methods to determine leakage currents. Consequently, the data given by various manufacturers is not directly comparable. Equipment standards on the other hand, e.g., IEC 60950 for office equipment, 60601- 1 for medical equipment or IEC 60335-1 for domestic equipment, specify in detail which threshold values are to be kept to and what method is to be employed in determining those values.

In order to take the various requirements regarding leakage current into account, manufacturers classify their products. With this, there are filters for standard applications, medical applications, industrial applications, etc. So as to maintain threshold values, only small, and in many cases no Y-capacitors are used. SCHURTER, for example, speaks of M5 filters having a maximum leakage current of 5μA (no Y-capacitors), or from M80 filters having a maximum leakage current of 80μA. There are no standards, however, that specify what classes there are, what these are called and what corresponding threshold values are to be applied. Nevertheless, this division helps the user to quickly find the appropriate product for his application.

For information check our website.
Download the whitepaper.