ESD control is a key part of any electronic business. While most people think about ESD when they are looking at static electricity, many different types of ESDs can cause problems for your electronics.
The goal of continuous monitoring in ESD control is to continuously monitor whether the wrist-strap, bench mat or Earth is disconnected whilst simultaneously checking the Earth-to-ground is working correctly.
This blog post will go into detail on what makes up an effective continuous monitoring system in your workplace and how it affects you and your employees.
Continuous monitoring serves as an alternative to the periodic testing of wrist straps. Essentially, it is used to monitor the performance of wrist straps, bench mats and Earth and determine whether they are functioning effectively or not instantly.
So is continuous monitoring defined as part of an ESD control program? How does continuous monitoring fit into an organisation’s ESD control plan template?
Well, since wrist straps are prone to failing unexpectedly, they must be tested regularly for any potential failures. In testing wrist straps, the ESD Association (ESDA) recommends organisations either conduct daily testing or make continuous monitoring a part of their ESD control procedures. With continuous monitoring in place, an organisation can better check the wrist strap’s effectiveness.
There are two kinds of continuous monitors: single-wire and dual-wire.
This type of constant monitor is compatible with any standard single-wire wrist strap and cord. It is considerably cheaper to use than its dual-wire counterparts. Its main drawback is that it is not the most appropriate system to use in crucial settings. Still, single-wire constant monitors provide an efficient and cost-effective way of monitoring the wrist strap as well as the workstation surface continuously.
Capacitive continuous monitors provide a simple way of ensuring that the coil cord, the operator and the wrist strap are all connected. They ensure constant monitoring of the Earth-to-ground connection, workmat-to-Earth connection and wrist-strap connection. Generally, they work with a standard wrist-strap and cord and have a body adjustment for individual user set-up. Once there’s a break or disconnect in the electrical connection between the three connections, an alarm will activate. Among all types of monitors, this is generally the least expensive. However, it has its cons, such as it can be fooled into thinking that the wrist strap is being worn by the operator when it’s not.
Resistive continuous monitors determine whether there are changes in the impedance of the cord, operator and wrist strap. This helps reduce the likelihood of false alarms, which then removes the need for adjustments. Resistive continuous monitors work with a dual wrist-strap and cord. They automatically enter standby mode when the wrist-strap and cord is removed. When in use, the monitor will indicate ‘high’ or ‘low’ fail for the users’ wrist strap.
A dual-wire constant monitor is used with a dual-wire wrist-strap and cord. It monitors the resistance of a system comprising the operator, the wrist-strap and the two wires. If any break in the system occurs (due to disconnection, for instance), an alarm will activate.
Dual-wire monitors, in contrast with single-wire monitors, are more reliable and appropriate to use in crucial applications. This is because the operator is still provided with a consistent path to ground in case the other wire fails.
Constant monitors are easy to install in a workstation. One essential factor to consider during installation is where the monitor should be mounted. You can typically install it on or under the workbench via mounting hardware.
When installing the monitor, the front panel showing the LED lights should remain visible to the operator. After installation and making the necessary connections, the monitor is then powered up and ready for operation.
The constant monitor can be used by simply plugging the cord connected to the wrist-strap into it. LEDs will light up to indicate wrist-strap functionality and whether resistance limits are met or not. It’s recommended that regular calibration of the monitor is performed to ensure that it satisfies the necessary standards.
Continuous monitoring takes the guesswork out of identifying whether a wrist strap is performing effectively. Wrist straps are a crucial component in an ESD control system. They are considered the first line of defense in ensuring that static discharge is not transmitted to static sensitive electronics. Thus, it is necessary to make sure that they are operating properly right from the start.
Continuous monitors come with a series of status indicators and alarms to alert the operator on the wrist strap’s functionality. This allows the operator to replace the defective wrist strap as soon as possible.
Continuous monitoring serves as a reliable alternative to periodic wrist strap testing. This means that the operator does not need to test wrist straps daily and log their results. Consequently, the manual work of operators is minimised, which saves precious time and effort.
It also helps avert the issue that comes with periodic testing. In periodic testing, an operator checks the wrist strap’s performance, logs their results and carries on with their work. If the wrist strap fails after the test, the operator has no way of knowing about the failure until the next time they test the wrist strap. This delay in replacing the faulty equipment can have repercussions in the form of ESD damage to components.
If a wrist strap is not continuously monitored, an operator may not detect equipment failure immediately. Consequently, faulty wrist straps can inflict ESD damage to static sensitive devices.
ESD damage can be classified as either latent defects or catastrophic failures. The latter comes in the form of irreparable damage to the device. Meanwhile, latent defects are when a device degrades over time due to exposure to ESD events. Continuous monitoring helps prevent these types of ESD damage by constantly checking the wrist strap’s functionality.
By preventing ESD damage to devices, a company can efficiently produce quality products with better longevity. This can significantly improve brand image and reputation. It can also help an organisation better meet customer satisfaction in the long run.
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