Electromagnetic Compatibility Study secures operation of secure communications network Schiphol Airport

In 2016, artist Maarten Baas created a video installation showing a laborer, who appears to be standing in a giant clock, writing and erasing elapsing minutes. The work is installed in the international terminal of Schiphol in Amsterdam, the largest airport in the Netherlands and one of Europe’s main airports. The worker's blue overalls, yellow rag and red bucket are a tribute to the famous Dutch artist Piet Mondrian.

 

 

Comprehensive EMC survey Detect possible sources of interference Mapping electric field strength Improve SNR

The Challenge

"However, we noticed that the video installation was causing Electro-Magnetic Interference (EMI), which interfered with our T2000 communications system," explains Ton Baltus, Head of Installation Managers at Schiphol. "This is a closed secure communications network incorporating over 600 transmission towers which is also used by the police, fire department and ambulance services. Equipment can be very sensitive to EMI. For example, emergency services noticed that their walkie-talkies had no range when they were near the clock. Because we cannot afford to disrupt a critical installation such as the T2000 system, we needed to find an optimal solution quickly."

Goals

  • Map Electro-Magnetic Interference
  • Provide analysis and reporting to enable resolution

Solution

There was a need for clear information about the frequency ranges in which disturbances occurred and how these related to the range of the T2000 system. "We inventoried the problem with the team at Schiphol and construction company Heijmans. ," explains Christan van Dorst, Manager Technical Engineering, HyTEPS.

Electromagnetic Interference measurements were performed on conduction and radiation using a Spectrum Analyzer and directional antenna. Current quality measurements were also made on the clock's power supplies. "Through this Electromagnetic Compatibility (EMC) study, we were able to determine at what frequencies the T2000 system was operating, and the frequencies emitted. The emissions from the clock turned out to be so powerful that they completely drowned out the T2000 system. We shared this information with the clock’s manufacturer in order to find a definitive solution. EMC research is one of HyTEPS' specialties. Two aspects are important here: the ability of equipment to function properly in an electromagnetic environment (immunity) and the minimization of electromagnetic interference to other equipment and the environment (emission)."

Electromagnetic noise is created in the vicinity of the clock when it is switched on. This is caused by specific components of the clock that do not meet the minimum Signal to Noise Ratio for T2000 communication. Disturbance of the T2000 system near the clock is caused by an increase in Electromagnetic Noise when the clock is switched on. Hub PCs and flat ribbon cabling in a specific part of the clock seemed to cause this. The effect of the clock on the overall quality of the power supply was found to be negligible. It did turn out that 5G communications could be disrupted in the vicinity of the clock when it was switched on.

Results

"The problem was rapidly addressed and now the clock has been functioning for years without any problems," says Ton Baltus. "This work of art is not only decorative, but also functional and it’s really a part of the airport. If Schiphol were a city, it would be one of the Netherlands top 20 consumers of energy. But unlike 'ordinary' installations, we need to deal with a large number of different networks, to which different parties connect all kinds of devices. Now that so many parties are electrifying their assets, it is especially important to keep everything properly mapped out. A HyTEPS EMC study is essential for this."

 

"The problem was rapidly addressed and now the clock has been functioning for years without any problems"
Ton Baltus, Head of Installation Managers at Schiphol