30 June 2009

Carbon Canyon Businesses: CKC Laboratories

Who knew Olinda Village would be a mecca of electromagnetic compatibility testing?

A few months back, this feature spotlighted an EMC testing lab called Compatible Electronics in Olinda Village. While eating at the excellent (to put in yet another plug [pardon the pun]) Sol de Mexico restaurant in the Village shopping center, I took note of the business that occupies several suites adjacent to the restaurant. I'd seen it many times, but assumed it was a medical laboratory, the kind that analyzes samples for doctors. Instead, I noticed that CKC Laboratories listed itself as an EMC lab like its close neighbor, Compatible Electronics.

The company was founded in 1973 as CK Consultants, Inc, an EMC design consultation specialist. Soon, however, the company, later renamed, began its testing and certification service. After regulatory changes by the FCC concerning EMC certification in the early 1980s, the company opened an early open air testing site (OATS) in Running Springs, a mountain community above San Bernardino near Lake Arrowhead.

Soon after, company headquarters were established in Mariposa, a Gold County town not far from Yosemite National Park, just as the testing lab was relocated from Running Springs to Olinda Village. Rapid expansion led to the opening of five testing centers in northern California, Oregon and Washington with facilities now in California and Washington. Mandatory compliance in Europe in the mid-90s facilitated the company's growth.

As was noted with the earlier discussion about Compatible Electronics, EMC testing labs are desirable in remoter, higher-elevation areas where radio frequency issues are minimized. Testing is done for all kinds of equipment in such areas as medical electronics; wireless devices; broadband that uses power lines; automotive applications; military uses; aviation; and aerospace. The process deals with a myriad of issues including temperature; humidity; shock; vibration; and corrosion.

Specifically, the Olinda Village site is a Safety Test Center for CKC with testing done for information technology; telephone terminal equipment; and test, measurement and laboratory equipment.

While electronics are so much an integrated part of modern life, few of us laypeople understand the importance of product testing for devices that have a huge impact on how we live.

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