The Right Blend of Electromagnetic Interference Analysis

Is EMI/EMC an integral part of your product designs? It should be.

EMI prevention is essential.

Since every electronic device must be electromagnetically compatible and is required to pass mandatory EMI tests, at some point in product development the circuitry, printed circuit board layouts, and packaging need to be analyzed to make sure EMC requirements will be met.

But here’s the rub.

Many projects, okay most projects, don’t address EMI during product design. Often electromagnetic interference only gets the attention it deserves after the product fails an EMI test.

As any engineer who has had the misfortune of having to troubleshoot an EMI test failure will tell you, fixing EMI problems late in the game can be difficult and costly. For some projects the EMI problems can’t be fixed without major redesign.

The challenge faced by many engineers is obvious: there is little or no time and budget allocated in the design phase to assess and prevent EMI issues. The competitive nature of electronic design squeezes schedules and tightens purse strings.

So we have a dilemma:

We know we should do EMI prevention up front.
But we have little time and money to do it.

If we do nothing during the design phase to control EMI, the product is almost guaranteed to fail one or more EMI tests and not meet its EMC requirements. The product can’t go to market and can’t be delivered to the end customer.

Troubleshooting and fixing EMI problems is stressful, difficult, and can be a financial and schedule nightmare.

On the other hand, an exhaustive electromagnetic interference analysis is time consuming and cost prohibitive for most projects. Besides, performing a comprehensive analysis requires specialized expertise and has diminishing return on investment.

We need an efficient, cost-effect way to assess EMI up front.

Often when engineers set off on the quest to identify the best software tool for electromagnetic interference analysis they aren’t really sure what they want. Most engineers have a general idea of what they would like the software to do, but they don’t really know what is realistic to expect.

Ask yourself, what I am trying to accomplish with the software?

If your goal is to design a product that meets its EMC requirements and passes its EMI tests, you need a solution-focused tool.

The ideal EMI analysis software should:

be easy to learn and use
address your biggest EMI problems
help you design products that pass EMI tests

If the software takes weeks or months to become proficient, requires training courses and classroom instruction to learn, and is so complex that models take days to construct, you’ve already lost the battle. Useful software needs to be intuitive and simple to use. You should be able to pick it up after six months away, build a model, and get the results you want the same day. Otherwise, when the pressure is on, you won’t use it.

Most EMI test failures are cable-related. Either the cables are radiating too much, are picking up too much noise, or are the conduit for excessive conducted emissions or susceptibility. The cables aren’t the cause, it’s the circuitry connected to the cables. See Cabling Affects Electromagnetic Interference in Complex Ways for more. Your EMI analysis software had better do a good job analyzing the effects of cables.

In the end, the main objective of EMI analysis is to identify design weaknesses that cause EMI test failures. The software must provide clear indication of compliance. Otherwise, why do the analysis? Models should be detailed enough to allow for good engineering design decisions, but not so detailed that the design has to be complete in order to do the analysis.

EMI Analyst™ has the right blend of capabilities.

EMI Analyst™ software is designed to help engineers quickly assess whether their circuit design complies with EMC requirements. It addresses the most common cause of EMI test failures, circuits connected to the outside world through electrical cables. And it provides quick and effective modeling tools for assessing EMI control measures such as common mode noise, filtering, and cable shielding.

If your goal is to design a product that meets its EMC requirements and passes its EMI tests, EMI Analyst™ software may be the ideal tool for you.

For more information, see the EMI Analyst product pages and examples in the download area at

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