ESD Control Program

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ESD Control Program

ESD control programs apply for facilities where ESD-sensitive (ESDS) parts or equipment are handled and processed. This includes incoming acceptance areas, manufacturing areas, test labs, and integration and tests clean rooms.

ESD Control Programs use both administrative and technical requirements.

The primary objective of an ESD control program is to provide continuous ESD protection and should be tailored as necessary based on the sensitivity level of the items to be handled, the type of work to be performed and the risk tolerance of the project. The following administration requirements should be followed:

  • Develop and maintain an ESD program plan that includes personnel roles and responsibilities and verification requirements;
  • Develop procedures as needed to support the plan;
  • Develop a training program;
    • Why Training?
      • To understand the fundamentals of static electricity and ESD control;
      • To learn the process steps to be used to implement the applicable control plan;
      • To learn what quality assurance record-keeping is required;
      • To learn what to do when it is believed an ESD event was highly likely or known to have occurred;
  • Create an infrastructure that supports the program such as identifying approved products and suppliers for items used to erect ESD protected areas and items used to verify those areas, providing access to calibration services or calibrated test equipment, and creating a method for verifying compliance that does not solely depend on personnel checking their work.

The following technical requirements should be followed (see ANSI/ESD S20.20 and NASA-STD-8739.6 for requirements language and technical specifications):

  • Use grounding/bonding systems;
  • Use personnel grounding;
  • Establish ESD protected areas with grounded dissipative surfaces on every item to the greatest degree possible;
  • Mark ESD protected areas and limit entry to grounded individuals;
  • Minimize unnecessary items in the ESD protected area;
  • Use ionization to neutralize static charge on items that cannot be grounded;
  • Use proper packaging techniques;
  • Appropriately mark all ESD sensitive items;
  • Use proper handling procedures.

NASA uses NASA-STD-8739.6, Implementation Requirements for Workmanship Standards, and ANSI/ESD S20.20, ESD Association Standard for the Development of an Electrostatic Discharge Control Program for Protection of Electrical and Electronic Parts, Assemblies and Equipment (Excluding Electrically Initiated Explosive Devices, for deriving ESD control requirements, developing ESD control plans and generating ESD control training material. NASA-HDBK-8739.21 is an example of an ESD control plan.

What is the takeaway?

ESD control is an important part of the electronics manufacturing process for everything from low-cost research projects to high-reliability space flight hardware.  While both should implement ESD controls to prevent damage to the equipment, the number of controls used and the layers of redundancy should vary based on things such as risk posture, resources available, and environmental conditions.  What works for one project/program/lab may not be sufficient or appropriate for another, which makes it important that personnel handling ESDS items know the ESD controls being used in the EPA where they will be working.  It is equally important that someone knowledgeable in ESD controls and their implementation assess the EPA and work conditions to develop the best combination of controls to be used for ESDS work and verify through the test that those controls achieve the necessary electrical specifications.