Crash Test Trolleys
Simon Edgar – European Product Manager Checkpoint Systems, talks about the rigorous testings that our antennas undergo during development, and why these tests are so important to retailers and shoppers alike.
As consumers we take for granted that the products we buy go through safety checks and certifications right? All of us are familiar with the slow motion videos of bald, featureless orange dummies, sitting motionless in a new car model, suddenly being crashed at speed into a wall or another car, their work of ensuring our safety being captured from every possible angle. This makes for some dramatic viewing for sure!
But did you know that Checkpoint too has its own crash test dummies? Ours are not in human form, but take the shape of loaded shopping trolleys and carts. Why? Well we take consumer safety very seriously too. During the development of any new EAS antenna, Checkpoint works hard towards ensuring a very rigorous set of health and safety standards are met or exceeded. If they don’t, the product does not get launched. Let’s take the electronics first as an example, before we return to our crash tests. Our electronics are sold across the world in over 60 countries and we need to ensure we meet every global, regional and local regulatory requirement, no matter what the origin, if it affects Radio Frequency transmissions and electrical safety. This can often mean lengthy and expensive testing in official third party test centres, and in fact, regulatory testing of our equipment forms a large portion of any R&D investment when we develop a new product. Human Emissions exposure, EMC output, RF regulatory outputs and electrical safety are all tested and approved before we launch any electrical equipment, and most important of these is RF emissions. There are, of course, strong regulations regarding the frequency bands and power outputs that our equipment can operate within, and Checkpoint take these regulations very seriously.
Unfortunately not all RF EAS manufacturers do, and it is not uncommon for low cost Far Eastern products to be sold and installed, which transmit well beyond the regulatory bands provided. The reason? In order to boost detection levels, the power outputs are beyond the legal limits, usually to make up for inferior build quality and technology. The result? Systems that block other RF transmissions and have very high false alarm rates, not something you want from an EAS solution in a busy store!
So, back to our crash test trolleys. These are just one way we not only test the electrical and regulatory performance of the antennas, but a focus on the build quality and consumer safety is key here. Imagine a fully loaded shopping cart, brimming with a weekly shop, perhaps laden with cases of beer ready for the weekend BBQ, suddenly out of control, running directly into the side of an Acrylic based antenna. The worst case scenario, shards of razor sharp plastic shattering everywhere… that really doesn’t bear thinking about does it? So we test our antennas, we crash fully laden shopping trolleys into them, from various angles and measured forces, to ensure they remain intact. Only when we are satisfied that they are more than robust enough do we pass the design for production.
But it does not end there. We have all witnessed the bored youngster, out shopping with Mum, fed up and looking for something to do. Imagine that they attempt to climb the same antenna, pulling at it so that it suddenly bends and snaps or shatters with a huge crack. We have established our own pull strength test rigs that ensure an antenna is designed to gently deform at set points in the design if a weight limit is exceeded, just like a car is designed to crumple in order to safeguard the occupants. No shattered antenna, or injured children.
So, when you next look at a Checkpoint antenna, maybe you will remember all of the work we do behind the scenes, in order to make our products safe and secure for your retail environment. We care passionately about our products and customers, as much as you do about yours.