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According to their website, the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC) was established in 2008 as an open and collaborative standards development group comprised of more than 600+ company members around the globe. WPC’s members are both large and small competitors and ecosystem partners including Apple, ASUS, Belkin, Bosch, Canon, ConvenientPower, Dell, Google, Haier, Huawei, IKEA, Lenovo, LG, MediaTek, mophie, NXP, Panasonic, Royal Philips, Samsung, Sony, TDK, Verizon Wireless and Xiaomi. All of these companies collaborate to design and evolve the world’s most useful, safe, and efficient standards for wireless power.
Phoebe Francis, a WPC representative who works as a senior manager in the Dallas offices for Golin, a PR firm, gave me the rundown on WPC and what it means for printed circuit manufacturing.
Nolan Johnson: I’m here with Phoebe Francis with the Wireless Power Consortium at CES 2019.
Phoebe Francis: Yes, I work with the marketing team for the WPC. At Golin, we handle all of the promotional activities for WPC and many of the members. Golin is also a member of the consortium. We provide marketing and PR services, and we’ve been with the consortium almost since the beginning.
Johnson: My readers in electronics design, manufacturing, and assembly are certainly looking at wireless power solutions for their applications all the time. Where does the WPC fit for them?
Francis: WPC is a group of 650 different companies that all work together on an open standard for wireless power for cellphones, kitchen appliances, laptops, portable drills, etc. We have a variety of different standards that we work on, and members interested in adding wireless power feature sets to products can have their products certified by us as being safe and interoperable. That means that they will have access to the standard and testing services around the world to ensure that all of their products work together with other products on the market and that they’re safe for consumers to use.
Johnson: In the whole design-to-manufacture flow, where does that certification take place? Who handles the basic blocking and tackling for you?
Francis: There are a variety of different ways to approach this. If the end manufacturer is the one who’s doing the product from start to finish, then they would be the one who would need to certify. We also have subsystems which are pre-made, pre-certified solutions created by our members at a variety of different stages of the design process. Those subsystems can be added in as they are, more or less, with enough flexibility for people to still add competitive differentiation on top of that. Now, because those systems are pre-certified, it speeds up the certification process immensely. So, the end product that gets sold into the market is where it needs to be to get certified, but by using those pre-certified systems, the certification process is accelerated. There are a few specific requirements that must be met, which you can see listed on our website.
Johnson: So, that means that design teams are in charge of the concept and putting together the design and components. It’s their upfront decisions that are going to determine whether it’s certified or not. The certification is not going to happen until you have a finished good.
Johnson: And that finished good may be manufactured overseas by somebody else. Does the certification need to take place at the manufacturing facility?
Francis: Once the product is completely finished and ready for market, it is sent to one of our certification labs. We have labs all over the world. Once it’s done, they do all of the testing on it. So, if you’ve used one of those pre-certified subsystems, that greatly speeds up the process.
Johnson: I could see why that would be the case. What sort of company in the electronics manufacturing supply chain should be looking at membership with the WPC?
Francis: Companies that are involved in adding wireless power are of interest to us, which I know is very broad. We have member companies that are at the chip level all the way over to the end-consumer level and everyone in between. If wireless power is going to be one of the differentiators of your product, I would highly recommend that you seriously consider membership and certification of your products.
To read the full article, which appeared in the March 2019 issue of SMT007 Magazine, click here.