It is important for businesses who work with static sensitive items to set up ESD prevention and control measures in the form of an ESD Control Plan. This should contribute towards the BS EN 61340-5-1 / IEC-61340-5-1 Standard and any other required industry standards for ESD control. Each business will vary from one another in terms of their processes and regulations. Therefore, a business will require their own ESD Control Plan. In this article, we will guide you on the steps to take to create an effective ESD Control Plan for your business. Want to learn more about ESD? Read our beginners guide on electrostatic discharge.
Your business should prepare an ESD Control Program Plan that addresses each of the requirements of the program. Those requirements are:
The plan is the principal document for implementing and verifying the program. The goal is a fully implemented and integrated program that conforms to internal quality system requirements. The plan shall apply to all applicable facets of the organisation.
An ESD coordinator should be assigned by the company / organisation for implementing the requirements of the standard. The ESD coordinator will be responsible for establishing, documenting, maintaining and verifying the compliance of the program.
Identify any electrostatic sensitive items that your company handles. Examples of electrostatic sensitive devices (ESDS) include printed circuit boards, microcircuits, thick and thin film resistors, discrete semiconductors, piezoelectric crystals and hybrid devices.
Read BS EN 61340-5-1 / IEC-61340-5-1 for guidance if you manufacture, process, assemble, install, package, label, service, test, inspect, transport or handle susceptible items. The purpose of the standard is to provide the administrative and technical requirements for establishing, implementing and maintaining an ESD Control Program. Personnel who handle electrostatic sensitive components and devices should familiarise themselves with common ESD terminology.
Eliminate differences in potential in your ESD protected area by connecting ESD control elements and personnel to a protective Earth, functional Earth or an equipotential bonding system. The most preferred method to use is grounding using protective Earth. With this method, the ESD control elements and grounded personnel are connected to protective Earth.
All personnel in the EPA should be grounded or equipotentially bonded according to the requirements when handling electrostatic sensitive devices. As part of your ESD Control Plan, your organisation should determine a personnel grounding method for operators.
Seated personnel must be connected to grounding via a wrist strap system, however standing operators can use a foot grounding system. When a foot grounding system is in place, workers should wear either ESD footwear on both feet or ESD heel straps to create a path to Earth. In some cases both grounding methods will be used.
Your organisation should define all departments which will be EPAs. An EPA can consist of a building, an entire room or a single workstation. The EPA’s boundaries and control access should be clearly identified by using appropriate workstation signage, floor markings and access control measures. For example, caution signs indicating the existence of the EPA can be affixed outside the entrance of an EPA and conspicuous to personnel prior to entry to the EPA.
Access to the EPA should be limited to personnel who have completed appropriate ESD training. Untrained individuals shall be escorted by trained personnel while in an EPA to prevent the risk of accidental ESD damage.
Each company has different processes, and so will require a different blend of ESD prevention measures for an optimum ESD Control Program. Measures should be selected, based on technical necessity and carefully documented in an ESD Control Program Plan, so that all concerned can be sure of the program requirements.
Consider ESD control products such as work surfaces, storage racks, wrist straps, bonding points, flooring, seating, ionisation, shelving, trolleys and clothing to use in your EPA. For singular workstations or small EPAs, you may wish to use an ESD grounding kit.
Electrostatic sensitive items without ESD protective packaging should be handled in an area where static is controlled; an EPA. Any device that you receive in ESD packaging should be treated as a susceptible item.
ESD protection can be achieved by enclosing static sensitive components / devices in static protective materials such as a static shielding bag. The type of packaging material you choose is dependant on the type of application and destination.
Your organisation should define what type of ESD protective packaging material is required when moving ESD susceptible devices outside a protected area, within an EPA, between EPAs, between job sites, field service operations and to the customer. For example, static discharge shielding materials are recommended to be used outside an EPA, while static dissipative materials can be used inside an EPA to provide adequate protection. For moisture control, packaging materials such as moisture barrier bags should be used to protect moisture-sensitive and static-sensitive devices.
The two types of ESD symbols used to mark ESD susceptible items are:
Also referred to as ESD sensitivity symbol, ESD warning symbol or ESD caution symbol, the ESD susceptibility symbol is intended to identify devices and assemblies that are susceptible to ESD.
Also known as the ESD packaging symbol, the ESD protective symbol should be on ESD protective products identifying a specialty product that has at least one ESD control property.
As per the IEC-61340-5-1 Standard, ‘a compliance verification plan shall be established to ensure the organisation’s fulfilment of the requirements of the plan’.
Your compliance verification plan should document the steps you will take to review, verify, analyse, evaluate and improve your ESD programme. Compliance verification records should be kept and maintained to provide evidence of conformity to the technical requirements. Compliance verification checks and tests should be performed on a regular basis to ensure the equipment remains effective and that the ESD Control Program is correctly implemented in compliant with the ESD Control Program Plan.
ESD training is an essential part of an ESD Control Program in order to ensure that operators involved understand the equipment and procedures they are to use in order to be in compliance with the ESD Control Program Plan. Training personnel on the effects of ESD raises awareness and understanding of ESD issues in the workplace. Without training, personnel can be a major source of ESD risk to electrostatic sensitive devices. However, with training, personnel become an effective first line of defence against electrostatic discharge damage. Common training options include: On-site training at the customer’s premises, training at the provider’s premises, or ‘open’ training courses at conference/hotel venues.
Your training plan should define and specify how personnel who handle or contact ESD sensitive items will undergo training in ESD awareness and prevention.
The ESD training plan should define / include:
Training methods and the use of specific techniques are at the company’s discretion.
Your ESD Control Plan should include a list of ESD control items used in the EPA, the Compliance Verification Plan and the Training Plan.
Once an EPA has been established you should look to conduct regular audits of the area as per the Standard. An ESD Audit, or an EPA assessment, is essential to a good ESD Control Program. The frequency an audit should be conducted is dependant on the item. For example, static surveys of electrostatic discharge protected areas and workstations as well as smocks (electrical tests) should be audited monthly. Whereas, ESD system compliant to the ESD Control Program plan is recommended to be audited annually. To ensure a non-biased audit, your organisation should include external auditors in the audit process.
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