It’s unavoidable. It’s everywhere. We grew up calling it static electricity: that small jolt that comes from touching a doorknob after petting your dog or when you pull clothing from the dryer. Technically, it’s called electrostatic discharge (ESD) and its defined as “the release of static electricity when two objects come into contact.”
At any given time, the average person stores hundreds, if not thousands of electrostatic volts in their body. For humans, ESD is harmless, but it only takes 25 volts to cause irreversible damage to delicate electronic circuitry. But, it is estimated to cost American industries more than $5 billion annually. That is why ESD prevention and control has been a topic for serious discussion by electronics manufacturers for years.
Solid State Electronic Components Failure
Solid-state components are electronic devices used to build items such as mobile phones, flash drives, integrated circuits, and light emitting diodes. The transistor, introduced in the 1960s, was the first solid-state device to come into commercial use. Today, consumer demand for electronic devices is at an all-time high. At the same time, these devices are becoming increasingly more complex. These two factors help to explain the prevalence of ESD component failures.
ESD Prevention and Control
ESD prevention and control protocols are imperative. Electrostatic discharge can damage a device at any point in the supply chain from manufacturing to assembly. Most electronic component manufacturers or service providers have an electrostatic protected area, known as an EPA. Controlling ESD at the manufacturing site has been an established practice for many years. But what about maintaining control throughout the remainder of the supply chain?
Customers expect their electronics to be reliable and in good condition whether they are purchased directly from the manufacturer or through a distributor. For this reason, it is important that basic steps be taken to shield your entire supply chain from potential ESD damage. This requires a vigorous ESD control policy.
In order to accurately inspect and manage ESD-sensitive inventory, it’s important to implement special storage and handling procedures. For example, both the handler and their environment should be grounded to the same potential. Your ESD procedure should involve grounding as many elements within a given vicinity as possible, utilizing different types of equipment. ESD floor mats should be used to prevent the accumulation of ground charge, and special ESD surfaces are needed to prevent charge imbalance during inspection and packaging.
Employees who handle sensitive components should wear antistatic wrist straps to ground them to a conductor via connected wire. For maximum protection, antistatic shoes and clothing are also available. Attention must be paid to the processes in place to protect your inventory during storage, especially when storage is necessary to sustain a prolonged product lifecycle.
Damaged Components Can Go Undetected
Damage due to ESD can be either catastrophic or latent in nature. Catastrophic failure is easy to diagnose. Thanks to an ESD occurrence, there may be obvious damage and the device no longer functions at all. A latent defect is much more difficult to detect. Exposure to discharge may cause only partial damage that can affect electrostatic sensitive devices in multiple ways. Some equipment may work fine initially, but break down earlier than expected. Other devices may be less effective than they should be.
ESD delivers more than just a little shock. Whether catastrophic or latent, ESD occurrences can hurt the overall efficiency of your operation. These failures are often costly to repair and in some cases may create personal hazards. Remember, it is better to have too much ESD security than not enough. So, stop ESD in its tracks. Contact JIT Services today, and ensure your business the protection of total ESD compliance.