5 Reasons You Should Be Using EMI Analysis Software
Does this sound familiar?
After more than a year of hard work and long hours your latest project is nearing completion. You’re making plans for that long deserved vacation. But then the laboratory reports that your design just failed one of its EMI tests.
Your stress level jumps. You know from experience that finding a solution could take days or weeks, and a permanent fix could take hundreds of man-hours to implement. Now the product will be late, the budget will be blown, and everyone on the project is already exhausted.
Why does this seem to happen on every project?
You are not alone. This scenario is commonplace. It occurs in every segment of the electronics industry, from consumer electronics to military and aerospace.
Why are last minute EMI test failures more the norm than the exception?
Electromagnetic interference is difficult. Most electrical engineers don’t have the expertise to anticipate and prevent EMI/EMC design problems. So electromagnetic compatibility doesn’t get addressed up front, early in the design. EMI is often an afterthought. Adequate protection and controls aren’t designed into the product. And by the time a problem is discovered, it’s too late.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
Use the right EMI analysis software tools and adopt a prevention plan. You can dramatically reduce EMI problems late in the design cycle when it is most difficult and expensive to find and fix them.
1. Find problems early on
Performing EMI analysis at the right time provides biggest returns.
When creating a new product there are 3 phases where electromagnetic interference can be addressed.
• Product Certification – least effective
Using an EMI analysis tool after you’ve already failed a test can be helpful, but you will still have to repeat testing once you’ve corrected deficiencies. Plus you may have to re-spin circuit boards, update drawings, and possibly repeat other certification tests that are affected by the EMI design changes.
• Product Development – effective
Adding EMI controls to prototype hardware is an effective way of ensuring that you will pass your certification tests. EMI analysis tools can calculate how much filtering you need and let you optimize component values and topology. When paired with developmental EMI testing this approach will minimize surprises at the EMI lab.
• Product Design – most effective
EMI controls implemented in the design phase are often low cost or no cost. Before hardware is built, design trade-offs between circuit design, filtering, printed circuit layout and shielding can be simulated quickly and efficiently, and then optimized during product development testing.
The earlier in the development cycle you use EMI analysis tools, the bigger the payoff!
2. Dry run before you build hardware
Engineers have been using circuit analysis tools for years to model and optimize their designs. EMI analysis is no different. It’s simply a more efficient way to predict unexpected circuit behavior as it relates to interference.
3. Unveil complex interactions
Electromagnetic interference covers a very large frequency range. From a few 10’s of hertz for power line ripple voltage to 10’s of gigahertz for field radiation. Circuit components, filtering elements, and conductors have intended and parasitic elements that interact with one another in complex and sometimes unexpected ways.
To make things even more challenging, most EMI effects are measured in the frequency domain, but electronics engineers tend to think in the time domain.
EMI analysis takes into account intended and parasitic design elements, providing insight into how these elements interact over the full frequency range and how they can conspire to cause EMI test failures.
4. Increase your credibility
In many companies the EMC group, if there is one, is often overlooked during product design. Designers are usually focused on just getting the product to work, and EMC is something to be dealt with later.
Performing EMI analysis early in the design phase will prevent EMI test failures later on.
Having valuable design input during product design and development, that you can back up with solid engineering analysis, improves your credibility and increases you value. Plus, it helps demystify electromagnetic interference and moves it from the realm of being a design hindrance to being a design asset.
5. Pass your EMI tests
Every product has to pass its EMI tests. It’s just a question of how painful the process will be.
Wait until your design fails an EMI test before implementing EMI controls and it will be painful. Or be proactive and enjoy the satisfaction of passing EMI tests the first time.
The take away
Preventing electromagnetic interference demands planning and upfront investment.
• Buy EMI software that meets your needs.
• Learn how to use it.
• Allocate time early and throughout the design cycle.
Say goodbye to last minute EMI test failures and start planning that vacation.