Pre-Compliance Testing – The six reasons you can’t afford to skip it

Pre-compliance Testing

Passing Pre-compliancePre-compliance testing has the ability to reduce project risk, save money and time, impart knowledge in the project team and take the stress out of regulatory certification. Given the number of positive impacts it is not surprising that Pre-Compliance Testing is becoming more popular in many engineering and design companies. With the availability of decent quality test equipment at reasonable prices it is even easier perform Pre-Compliance Testing in-house close to the project team.


Today we look at the top reasons to perform Pre-Compliance Testing. After reading this article if you do not already have some form of pre-compliance in your project you should ask yourself, why not?

1. Reduce project risk

Scheduling pre-compliance testing into your project grants you the ability to anticipate design changes. The best time to perform pre-compliance testing depends on your project development cycle and how many prototypes you will spin. In a typical alpha, beta, production project schedule it makes sense to perform pre-compliance testing on both your alpha and beta prototypes. Any issues observed while testing the alpha prototype can be fed into the other design changes being incorporated in the beta prototype. Repeating pre-compliance on the beta prototype will you give confidence before proceeding with formal compliance testing.

2. Save money

Pre-compliance testing vibration damageUnexpected design changes later in the project schedule cost more and have a bigger impact on the schedule. Discovering and correcting issues early is the most effective way to prevent this from occurring. Pre-compliance testing can be performed for relatively small amount of money and time when compared to the costs and schedule impact of late design changes.

3. More effective use of time

Pre-compliance testing in the comfort of the office and in close proximity to the project team allows the team’s efforts to be concentrated on resolving issues effectively. If you anticipate that the design may face issues with a particular test you can spend more time focussed in this part of pre-compliance.

4. Develop robust solutions

When issues are observed during formal compliance testing the focus, for right or wrong, is often on developing a quick band-aid solution in order to nurse the product through certification. Aluminium foil, ferrite beads, capacitors and inductors, spring washers, glue and hand-made gaskets are often quickly acquired and tested in a shot-gun trial and error approach. Due to the high cost of debugging at the test facility, and the even higher cost of having to return later to repeat tests, this approach would seem quite reasonable. The negative by-product of this approach is that often the first solution which ‘seems to work’ (read: passes the test) is adopted. In most cases this is not the most robust solution had more time been available. On the other hand, issues observed during pre-compliance testing can be investigated and resolved without the extra pressure generated by formal certification.

5. Increase the knowledge of your project team

Pre-compliance testing EMC emissions testingThe project team consists of a range of specialists and generalists who each contribute knowledge and expertise from different backgrounds. In most cases only one or two representatives of the team will accompany the product to certification testing. However when pre-compliance testing is performed in-house the entire team is given the opportunity to learn more about EMC, vibration, climatic testing and ingress protection, and reflect on how their efforts affect the system design and performance in harsh environments.

6. Remove the stress from formal compliance testing

A lot rides on formal compliance testing. It is a significant activity in the project schedule with high resource allocation, time and costs. The impact of failed certification on project budget and schedule can be enormous. At the best case the test will have to be repeated with a small tweak in the design, at worst case significant redesign and reproduction work will need to be done. Take the stress out of certification by performing pre-compliance testing and having confidence that you have developed a robust product.


Do you have any stories related to pre-compliance testing? Or perhaps a failed attempted at certification that would have been avoided with proper pre-compliance testing? We would love to hear about it!

4 thoughts on “Pre-Compliance Testing – The six reasons you can’t afford to skip it

  1. Adam McWorth

    Couldn’t agree more. In my company we have started to schedule pre-compliance testing into project plans as a dedicated activity to give it more focus. It takes a concerted effort from project managers and lead engineers to recognize the value of pre-compliance testing. It also has to be a mentality of the R&D division. The overhead for one project is too much (ie, cost of test equipment and going through the learning curve), but once the division has some experience in this area it is more easily applied to new projects. Funny that you should mention increasing the knowledge of the project team, my background is in software engineer and I am moving into a project engineering role – my first time working with the hardware team on pre-compliance I learned a huge amount about environmental testing and robust design!

  2. Jose Del Mar

    Hola, good article. I’m trying to convince my project manager that we need to include pre-compliance testing in our upcoming design project which includes EMC Testing and Vibration Testing components for railway certification. I need to prepare a cost/benefit or business case and this will help a lot. Gracias.

  3. Anita Dunn

    Good article. Just completing a project where we had a budget overrun due to failing our first attempt at Vibration Testing, would have performed pre-compliance testing if we had assessed the risk earlier. Will be performing pre-compliance in the future for sure -A

  4. Chupacabra

    There are a ton of reasons to do pre-compliance testing. If you re not doing it, you re leaving the door open to an unknown cost and project delay liability.


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