So you’ve identified ESD sensitive items in your factory and you realise that you need to implement ESD Control measures. But where do you start? There is so much information out there and it can be completely overwhelming. Don’t panic – today’s blog post will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to set-up a suitable ESD Control Plan.
“The Organization shall prepare an ESD Control Program Plan that addresses each of the requirements of the Program. Those requirements include:
• compliance verification
• grounding / equipotential bonding systems
• personnel grounding
• EPA requirements
• packaging systems
• marking” [EN 61340-5-1 Edition 1.0 2007-08 clause 5.2.1 ESD control program plan]
“Each company has different processes, and so will require a different blend of ESD prevention measures for an optimum ESD control program. It is vital that these measures are 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.” [EN 61340-5-1 Edition 1.0 2007-08 Introduction]
1. Define what you are trying to protect
A prerequisite of ESD control is the accurate and consistent identification of ESD susceptible items. Some companies assume that all electronic components are ESD susceptible. However, others write their ESD control plan based on the device and item susceptibility or withstand voltage of the most sensitive components used in the facility. A general rule is to treat any device or component that is received in ESD packaging as an ESD susceptible item.
An operator handling an ESD susceptible item
2. Become familiar with the industry standards for ESD control
A copy of EN 61340-5-1:2007 can be purchased from British Standards: “BS EN 61340-5-1:2007 applies to activities that: manufacture, process, assemble, install, package, label, service, test, inspect, transport or otherwise handle electrical or electronic parts, assemblies and equipment susceptible to damage by electrostatic discharges greater than or equal to 100 V human body model (HBM). BS EN 61340-5-1 provides the requirements for an ESD control program. The user should refer to IEC 61340-5-2 for guidance on the implementation of this standard.
3. Select a grounding / equipotential bonding system
The elimination of differences in potential “can be achieved in three different ways:
- grounding using protective earth: the first and preferred ESD ground is protective earth if available. In this case, the ESD control elements and grounded personnel are connected to protective earth;
- grounding using functional ground: the second acceptable ESD ground is achieved through the use of a functional ground. This conductor can be a ground rod or stake that is used for grounding the ESD control items in use at a facility. In order to eliminate differences in potential between protective earth and the functional ground system it is highly recommended that the two systems be electrically bonded together;
- equipotential bonding: in the event that a ground facility is not available, ESD protection can be achieved by connecting all of the ESD control items together at a common connection point.” [EN 61340-5-1 Edition 1.0 2007-08 clause 5.3.1 Grounding/equipotential bonding systems]
Example of a grounding/equipotential bonding system
4. Determine the grounding method for operators (Personnel Grounding)
The two options for grounding an operator are:
- a wrist strap or
- foot grounders/footwear.
Wrist straps must be worn if the operator is seated.
A flooring / footwear system is an alternative for standing or mobile workers.
In some cases, both (wrist strap and foot grounders) will be used.
5. Establish and identify your ESD Protected Area (EPA)
ESD Control Plans must evolve to keep pace with costs, device sensitivities and the way devices are manufactured. Define the departments and areas to be considered part of the ESD Protected Area. Consider if customers and/or subcontractors should be included. Implement access control devices, signs and floor marking tape to identify and control access to the ESD Protected Area.
Example of an ESD Protected Area including signs and floor marking tape
6. Select ESD control items to be used in the EPA based on your manufacturing process
Elements that should be considered include: working surfaces, flooring, seating, ionisation, shelving, mobile equipment (carts) and garments.
7. Develop a Packaging (Materials Handling & Storage) Plan
When moving ESD susceptible devices outside an ESD protected area, it is necessary for the product to be packaged in an enclosed ESD Shielding Packaging.
8. Use proper markings for ESD susceptible items, system or packaging
From EN 61340-5-1 Edition 1.0 2007-08 clause 5.2.1: “The Organization shall prepare an ESD Control Program Plan that addresses each of the requirements of the Program. Those requirements include: …marking”.
The ESD Susceptibility (left) and ESD Protective Symbol (right)
9. Implement a Compliance Verification Plan
Developing and implementing an ESD control programme is only the first step. The second step is to continually review, verify, analyse, evaluate and improve your ESD programme. “Process monitoring (measurements) shall be conducted in accordance with a compliance verification plan that identifies the technical requirements to be verified, the measurement limits and the frequency at which those verifications must occur. The compliance verification plan must document the test methods used for process monitoring and measurements... Compliance verification records shall be established and maintained to provide evidence of conformity to the technical requirements. The test equipment selected shall be capable of making the measurements defined in the compliance verification plan.” [EN 61340-5-1 Edition 1 2007-08 clause 5.2.3 Compliance verification plan]
Regular programme compliance verification and auditing is a key part of a successful ESD control programme.
10. Develop a Training Plan
“The training plan shall define all personnel that are required to have ESD awareness and prevention training. At a minimum, initial and recurrent ESD awareness and prevention training shall be provided to all personnel who handle or otherwise come into contact with any ESDS [ESD sensitive] items. Initial training shall be provided before personnel handle ESD sensitive devices. The type and frequency of ESD training for personnel shall be defined in the training plan. The training plan shall include a requirement for maintaining employee training records and shall document where the records are stored. Training methods and the use of specific techniques are at the organization’s discretion. The training plan shall include methods used by the organization to ensure trainee comprehension and training adequacy.” [EN 61340-5-1 Edition 1.0 2007-08 clause 5.2.2 Training Plan]
11. Make the ESD Control Plan part of your internal quality system requirements
A written ESD Control Plan provides the “rules and regulations”, the technical requirements for your ESD Control Programme. This should be a controlled document, approved by upper management initially and over time when revisions are made. The written plan should include following:
- Qualified Products List (QPL): a list of EPA ESD control items is used in the ESD control Plan
- Compliance Verification Plan: includes periodic checking of EPA ESD control items and calibration of test equipment per manufacturer and industry recommendations.
- Training Plan: an ESD Programme is only as good as the use of the products by personnel. When personnel understand the concepts of ESD, the importance to the company of the ESD control programme and the proper use of ESD products, they will implement a better ESD control programme improving quality, productivity and reliability.