Why is compliance not embraced?

Compliance – I can almost hear the groans at the mention of the “C-word”. Nothing seems to make eyes roll more than the looming spectre of CE marking, FCC regulations, and EMC testing. Here are a few real-life examples I have witnessed: “Compliance stifles innovation”, “We’ll do that later – it’s not the time now”, “Do we have to do it?” and my personal favourite “Great – so how do we get around that?”

Standards are, in fact, brilliant. They prevent injury, save lives, and make life more convenient. Would you drive a car that burst into flames after a minor collision? Live with a heating system that occasionally electrocuted you in the shower? Let your toddler play with a toy with parts that is easily swallowed? Or in a less dramatic scenario, would you buy a television that interfered with your Wi-Fi? No streaming in your house! I am fairly sure that your answer to all these is a resounding “No”.

We must accept that the same rules need to apply to everyone, including ourselves. So why is compliance not embraced for all its positives? I suspect that the main problem is that it is just not that interesting. The overhead in reading and implementing a 500-page standard is not as fun as getting the lights flashing, the motors turning, or the data churning up to the cloud.

Another reason may be that compliance is perceived as a painful disruption. But why exactly is that? Could it be the timing when it is applied to the project? Compliance is often perpetually put off – until after proof of concept, after the Alpha prototypes, after consumer testing, after the Beta prototypes. Then finally, when the budgets are spent and the vision realised near perfection, the elephant in the room can no longer be ignored. At this point making sweeping changes will feel like a massive step backwards that can be hard to accept. With the design fully integrated any modification will have broader consequences on the design.

Even worse, this can become self-reinforcing; everyone remembers the pain of trying to meet a standard at the end of the last project, and none of them is keen to hear the “C-word” again… If you do not have the experience or know-how to manage this yourself, why not contact Blue Lightning Solutions and ask about our Product Design & Development Service? A service that helps you transfer all aspects of your concept from a prototype to a production-ready product.

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electronics compliance