ESD Training is important as understanding the techniques behind static control in a work environment is a crucial part of many businesses, particularly ones that have access to high voltage and electronics. Electrostatic discharges cause billions of dollars in damages each year. By going through basic ESD training and educating staff members, one can significantly decrease these losses. It only takes a small investment in materials and some ESD training to effectively control static conditions and prevent damages.
Basics of Static Electricity for ESD Training
Most people know that static electricity gathers when friction occurs between two conductive materials. The actual discharge, often felt as a short shock, occurs when two objects with different charges come into contact with each other. At 3,000 volts, one can feel static. At 5,000 volts, one can hear it. It takes 10,000 volts or more for static discharge to be visible to the human eye. Discharges at that voltage will damage most electronics. Static charges are more likely to form at higher voltages in dry climates with low temperatures.
The most important thing to know for ESD training is that one cannot eliminate static, only reduce it. This is why professionals refer to it as static control, not static elimination. Proper anti static techniques will assess the vulnerability of a workplace and take steps to minimize the likelihood of an ESD event.
There are two types of damage that occur after an ESD event. Catastrophic damage comprises 10% of all ESD failures. The static discharge is so strong that it damages the device beyond repair. The device does not work and now needs a replacement before work can proceed.
Intermittent damage comprises 90% of ESD failures. The ESD event damages the device, but the device is operational. Without basic ESD training, someone could assume that the device is fine and send it out to a customer. The latent damage will show up later and result in more service calls. Intermittent damage is the most expensive type of ESD failure.
Both types of damage can happen at any level, including product assembly and field servicing. Employees should have the ESD training to know when to take extra precautions against ESD. Effective ESD training will also teach them how to use anti static tools correctly.
The most common static generators are work surfaces, flooring, clothing, packaging materials, and personnel. Special ESD equipment exists to help control the static for each of these items. Companies should invest in anti static shipping bags, ESD flooring for work environments, and anti static mats with connected wrist straps for direct work with electronics. Those are the minimum tools required for anti static control, but there are other helpful tools available as well. ESD training will help workers decided which tools will benefit each work environment.
Anti static equipment controls static in one of four ways: prevention, neutralization, dissipation, and shielding. Some materials, such as anti static gloves, prevent charges from forming with material that cannot hold a charge. ESD flooring neutralizes the charge by connecting it to a grounded outlet. Remember, static is a problem when two objects with different charges come into contact with one another. If everything in the system stays at the same charge, the risk decreases.
ESD mats slowly dissipate the charge with static dissipative foam. Materials such as anti static bags shield sensitive equipment from any static charges that are nearby. Each of these components works together and controls static with all four methods. This ensures that the environment will remain safe from sudden discharges.
Here are four basic rules of static control to review during ESD training:
1) Handle sensitive items at an anti static workstation, making sure to discharge any static electricity that may have built up on hands or clothing.
2) Transport sensitive items in anti static bags
3) Test the static control equipment regularly to ensure that it is functioning correctly.
4) Make sure that members of every part of the supply chain follow the above three rules. Even a small misstep can result in intermittent damage to a component.
ESD training can go into much greater depth, but these basics will provide a foundation for preventing damaging ESD events. Call our sales office on 0844 8845 155 for an ESD audit, advice on how to set up an EPA, and a full ESD training presentation.