The Financial Case for an EMI/EMC Pre-Compliance Test Solution

 

By: David Akerson, Commerical Marketing Manager, Tektronix

Failing EMI compliance testing can be a design engineer’s worst nightmare. Additional compliance testing costs, external lab testing, debug engineering time, and in some cases, board spins can add significant costs and time delays to your project. Unfortunately, for companies new to EMI/EMC, estimating compliance testing cost can be somewhat challenging. In this blog, we’ll provide information on typical cost associated with EMI/EMC testing along with two customer case studies to illustrate the financial case for investing in a pre-compliance test solution.

When calculating EMI/EMC compliance test costs, a number of factors can come into play. These include the type of, the number of countries you are certifying your product in, the number of trips to an external test house, design and debug time, the number of boards you test, and certification test cost. The table below attempts to provides an example of typical costs associated with FCC and CE compliance. The costs are not inclusive and additional expenses may exist, but this is a good start to illustrate some of the costs involved.

EMC cost estimate (EMC + RF Only)
Expenses Cost Estimate
Certification cost  
• Unintentional Radiator (FCC + CE) $5,000 – $10,000
• Intentional Radiator (FCC + CE) $10,000 – $20,000
External Testing Lab $1,000 - $10,000 per day
Engineering Resources (debug, design, layout, test) $80 - $200 per hour per person
Board Spin if necessary (Cost/Board + Set-up Cost) $1,000 - $15,000
Total (not including Engineering Resources) $17,000 - $55,000

The cost of compliance testing: Customer Case Studies

Customer #1 has taken products to a test house for years. Customer #1 uses the service of an external anechoic chamber to prepare for compliance. For the last two products they developed, they estimated taking 40 trips per year at a cost of $700 per half day, for a total of $28,000. In addition, they estimated the cost for full compliance, which involves more than just emission testing, was approximately $30,000.

Customer #2 had a challenging experience. They spent a year trying to figure out where the “noise” in their product was coming from. To test the product, they went to a lab with an anechoic chamber for pre-scans at a cost of $1,250 an hour for a technician, equipment and chamber. Customer #2 went to the lab once a quarter with up to 12 boards. On some occasions, they would spend a full day. In reviewing their EMI/EMC pre-compliance expenses, they discovered they had incurred lab expenses of approximately $30,000 for the year. This number doesn’t include certification costs

Incorporating pre-compliance into your product development

From these examples, it’s easy to see how compliance related costs can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars. In comparison, a complete Tektronix’ pre-compliance test solution including a Spectrum Analyzer, Accessories and Software starts at less than $27,000. As you can see, incorporating an affordable pre-compliance solution into your product development activities is a great way to mitigate compliance testing costs.

In addition to the cost savings, incorporating pre-compliance testing into your development process provides additional benefits. These include:

  • Identifying potential EMI/EMC issues early in development
  • Getting immediate feedback on the impact of design changes
  • Testing on your schedule
  • Increased confidence in your product before you take it to the test house

Can You Afford to Not Invest in Pre-Compliance Testing?

If you’re designing product subject to EMI/EMC compliance testing, it’s obvious, failing compliance testing can be an expensive proposition. From a business perspective, incorporating a pre-compliance test solution into your operation is more than a great tool enabling engineers to do their jobs more efficiently. It’s also a great investment. When you consider multiple product projects and the potential ROI over a three to five-year period, why would you not invest in a pre-compliance testing solution?

To learn more about EMI/EMC pre-compliance and Tektronix’ solution, click here. Or to access a 30-day trial of EMCVu software, click here.

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