There are all kinds of variations and combinations of ESD Laminate and Continuous Monitors used by companies with ESD Programs.. There are some key factors that you need to be aware of if you intend to use ESD Laminate together with a continuous monitor that will monitor the worksurface connections.
It’s important to note that continuous monitors don’t monitor the status/condition of the outer surface of an ESD workstation. The continuous monitor monitors the connection between groundable points on the worksurface (often snaps), not the Resistance to Ground (RTG) of the surface itself. The RTG measurement must be taken separately, per ANSI/ESD TR53-01-18 – Compliance Verification of ESD Protective Equipment and Materials (Pages 6 and 7).
The basic technology is that the monitor applies a low test voltage to the scrim layer in the worksurface. Because the test voltage is so low, the resistance of the scrim layer of the mat must also be low so that the test voltage can complete a circuit of the scrim layer, worksurface connections (snaps) and ground cords. Completing that circuit indicates that the worksurface is electrically connected. The goal is to have the worksurface circuit fail because of a bad connection, not because the scrim layer resistance was too high. As mentioned earlier, testing the combination of the outer layer and the scrim layer together (RTG) is a separate test.
When choosing a continuous monitor and worksurface combination that will work together it is important to consider the following:
Does the worksurface have a separate scrim layer? (vs. a homogenous mat material)
Does the continuous monitor spec sheet note the resistance limit of the scrim layer required for the monitor/worksurface alarm system to pass?
See the excerpt below from the SCS 724 Continuous Monitor Technical Bulletin – https://www.descoindustries.com/PDF/724-Workstation-Monitor-User-Guide.pdf “Red Worksurface LED (M) This indicates that a high resistance condition (> 3.7 Megohms) exists across the conductive layer of theworksurface and/or the ground connections. Check the worksurface, ground cords and their connections for continuity. Note the audible alarm may also sound if enabled.”
What this means is if the resistance of the mat scrim layer is greater than 3.7 Megohms then the continuous monitor mat alarm would alarm for a high resistance condition even if the grounding hardware connections to the worksurface were intact. There are other SCS monitors available that will monitor a scrim layer with a resistance as high as 5 x 108.
In summary, it’s critical to know both the upper limit of the “pass” condition of the continuous monitor and the construction of the worksurface material (does it have a scrim layer and if so what is the resistance of the scrim layer?)
ESD Laminate requires extra attention when being considered for use with a continuous monitor for the following reasons:
Laminate material is rigid, which makes it more difficult for grounding hardware to make a good contact with the scrim layer.
Consider abrading the outer, decorative surface to expose the scrim layer for better contact. Consider a flat bottom drill for this process.
Most importantly, perform a test on the resistance between two points on the worksurface to determine if the resistance meets the requirements of the specified monitor (for the SCS 724 that requirement is less than 3.7 Megohms – 3.7 x 106 ). We recommend using an ohm meter with a test voltage similar, if not identical to the test voltage used by the continuous monitor. We recommend performing this test before the purchase/installation of any number of continuous monitor/worksurface combinations.
Welcome back to “A Minute with Miranda.” This week we will be covering how the EM Aware Monitor provides continuous monitoring to detect and measure ESD Events in your STM machine.
The SCS EM Aware Monitor is a continuous monitor for three key parameters that allow you to verify your ESD process in an automated insertion machine; ESD events, change in static voltage field, and ionizer balance. The thresholds for all three of these parameters are fully adjustable by the user. The EM Aware Monitor is a miniature radio receiver tuned to detect and measure the unique waveform generated by an ESD event. The EM Aware Monitor meets the Continuous Monitor requirements of ANSI/ESD S20.20 in accordance with ESD TR1.0-01 and ANSI/ESD STM3.1. It meets the recommendations of ESD Handbook ESD TR20.20 which includes “if the products that are being produced are of such value that the knowledge of a continuous, reliable ground is needed, then continuous monitoring should be considered or even required.”
Welcome back to “A Minute with Miranda.” This week we will be covering how the WS Aware provides continuous monitoring for an operator at an SMT line.
The SCS WS Aware Monitor is a continuous monitor for operators, ESD Worksurfaces and metal tools. It will continuously monitor the path-to-ground integrity and body voltage of two operators. It also monitors the path-to-ground integrity of two metal tools. In addition, it continuously monitors for electromagnetic interference (EMI) on two metal tools, which may cause electrical overstress (EOS) damage. The WS Aware Monitor eliminates the need for periodic testing and record keeping of wrist straps.
Per ESD Handbook ESD TR 20.20 section 188.8.131.52.4 “Typical Test programs recommend that wrist straps that are used daily should be tested daily. However, if the products that are being produced are of such value that knowledge of a continuous, reliable ground is needed, then continuous monitoring should be considered or even required.”
View the full range of SCS WS Aware Monitors here.
Welcome back to “A Minute with Miranda.” This week we will be covering how the WS Aware Monitor provides for continuous monitoring of an ESD Workstation setup.
The SCS WS Aware Monitor is a dual workstation continuous monitor for operators, ESD Worksurfaces and metal tools. It will continuously monitor the path-to-ground integrity and body voltage of two operators. It also monitors the path-to-ground integrity for two conductive or dissipative worksurfaces and two metal tools. It also continuously monitors for electromagnetic interference (EMI) on two metal tools which may cause electrical overstress (EOS) damage. The WS Aware Monitor eliminates the need for periodic testing and record keeping of wrist straps.
Per the ESD Handbook ESD TR20.20 section 18.4.2 “Some continuous monitors can monitor worksurface ground connections. A test signal is passed through the worksurface and ground connections. Discontinuity or over limit resistance changes cause the monitor to alarm. Worksurface monitors test the electrical connection between the monitor, the worksurface, and the ground point. However, the monitor will not detect insulative contamination on the worksurface.”
View the full range of SCS WS Aware Monitors here.
Welcome back to “A Minute with Miranda.” This week we will be covering how to use the WS Aware Monitor for continuous monitoring of SCS wrist straps when at an ESD Workstation.
The SCS WS Aware Monitor is a dual workstation continuous monitor for operators, ESD Worksurfaces and metal tools. It will continuously monitor the path-to-ground integrity and body voltage of two operators. The WS Aware Monitor eliminates the need for periodic testing and record keeping of wrist straps. The WS Aware Monitor features operator body voltage detection. It will alarm if the operator generates or comes into contact with voltage that would be dangerous to an ESD susceptible item. Per the ESD Handbook ESD TR20.20 section 184.108.40.206.4 “Typical test programs recommend that wrist straps that are used daily should be tested daily. However, if the products that are being produced are of such value that knowledge of continuous, reliable ground is needed, then continuous monitoring should be considered or even required.”
When talking about ESD Classifications a little while ago, we identified a “class 0” item as withstanding discharges of less than 250 volts.
The introduction of ANSI/ESD S20.20 states: “This standard covers the requirements necessary to design, establish, implement and maintain an Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Control Program for activities that manufacture, process, assemble, install, package, label, service, test, inspect or otherwise handle electrical or electronic parts, assemblies and equipment susceptible to damage by electrostatic discharges greater than or equal to 100 volts Human Body Model (HBM) and 200 volts Charged Device Model (CDM).”
So how do you handle items that are susceptible to voltages of less than 100V? That’s what we’re going to answer in today’s blog post.
Years ago, it was common for devices to be vulnerable to voltages greater than 100 V. As the need for smaller and faster devices increased, so did their sensitivity to ElectroStatic Discharges as circuit-protection schemes were removed to stay ahead of the market. These new extremely sensitive components are now susceptible to discharges nearing 0 V. This causes problems for companies handling these devices: while their ESD program may be in compliance with the ESD Standard, extremely sensitive devices require tighter ESD Control to protect them from ESD failures.
What is a “Class 0” device?
Before moving any further, we need to qualify the term “class 0”. As stated above, the HBM Model refers to any item with a failure voltage of less than 250 V as a “class 0” component. However, in recent times, the term has been used more and more to describe ultra-sensitive devices with failure voltages of less than 100 V. Whilst the following tips and tricks work on any “class 0” item, they are specifically designed to protect extremely sensitive items that withstand discharges of less than 100 V.
Before Updating Your ESD Program
“Class 0” refers to a wide range of items and there are a few things you should remember before making any changes to your existing ESD program:
Verify what ESD Model your company/engineers/customers etc. are referring to. As we have learnt in the past, there are different ESD models (HBM, CDM, MM) as well as individual classifications for each model. A lot of people get confused when it comes to citing ESD classifications. There is only one “class 0” which refers to the human body model (HBM) but it’s always best to check.
Check the specific withstand voltage an individual part is susceptible to. “Class 0” refers to all items that withstand discharges of less than 250 V. However, there is a big difference between a failure voltage of 240 V or 50 V. You need to have detailed ESD sensitivity information available before being able to make decisions on how to improve your existing ESD control program. This step is part of creating a compliance verification plan.
A part’s ESD classification is only of importance until it is ‘merged’ into an assembly. So, the ESD classification of a device only refers to the stand-alone component. Once it goes into another construction, the classification of the whole assembly is likely to change.
Tips for handling “Class 0” Items
Below are 6 tips that will help your company to upgrade your ESD control program so you can effectively and efficiently handle ultra-sensitive items without risking ESD damage.
One thing to note: The best approach to stay ahead of the game is taking proactive actions. It is critical to figure out how to protect your components from ESD damage before you receive them. If actions are taken after components are received, the components are susceptible to receiving ESD damage.
1. Improve Grounding
Inside an EPA, all conductors (including people) are grounded. Now you’re probably thinking: “But I’ve already grounded my operators and worksurfaces. What else is there left to do?”. Firstly, well done for properly grounding the ‘objects’ in your EPA. The next step is to adjust and improve your current program to allow for even better protection. Here are some suggestions:
Decrease the wrist strap and ESD footwear upper limit. The ESD Association has test data showing charge on a person is less as the path-to-ground resistance is less.
Reduce the required limit for Point-to-Point resistance of 1 x 109 per the ESD Standard to 106 to 108 ohms (see #5). The reason for this reduction is simple: 1 x 109 is too high as it still produces thousands of volts of in electrostatic charges. However, the resistance cannot be too small either as this can lead to a sudden ‘hard discharge’ potentially damaging ESD sensitive components.
Improve grounding of carts, shelves and equipment to Ground
Minimize isolated conductors like devices on PCBs
2. Minimize Charge Generation
The best form of control is to minimize charge generation. First, you should always use shielding packing products like bags or containers (especially when outside an EPA) as these protect from generating charges in the first place. For more information on choosing the correct type of ESD Packaging, we recommend reading this post.
The next step is to eliminate charges once they are generated – this can be achieved through grounding and ionization. We’ll cover ionization in #3 and #4. We’ve already talked about improved grounding in #1. However, for ultra-sensitive components, we also recommend the following:
Personnel: Use low-charging floor finish
Surfaces: Use low-charging topical antistatic treatments
Both types of ESD products create a low tribocharging coating which allows charges to drain off when grounded. The antistatic properties will reduce triboelectric voltage to under 200 volts.
3. Remove Insulators
When talking about conductors and insulators, we explained that insulators cannot be grounded and can damage nearby sensitive devices with a sudden uncontrolled discharge. It is therefore critical to eliminate ALL insulators that are not required in your EPA: plastic cups, non-ESD brushes, tapes etc. How? Here are a couple of options:
Replace regular production supplies and fixtures with dissipative, low charging versions, e.g. ESD dissipative brushes, ESD dispensers, ESD tape, ESD Chairs etc.
If an insulator is absolutely necessary for production and cannot be removed from the EPA, you could consider a topical treatment which will reduce triboelectric charges.
Is this not an option, then move on to tip #4.
4. Use Ionization
First, ionization is not a cure-all. We’ve learnt that ionizers neutralize charges on an insulator.
However, that does not mean that you can just have any insulator in your EPA because the ionizer will “just fix it”. No, in this instance, prevention is generally a better option than the cure. So, your priority should ALWAYS be to remove non-process essential insulators from your EPA – see tip #3. If this is not possible – then ionization becomes essential.
Ionizers can be critical to reduce induction charging caused by process necessary insulators
Ionizers can be critical in eliminating charges on isolated conductors like devices on PCBs
Offset voltage (balance) and discharge times are critical considerations depending on the actual application
Ionization can reduce ElectroStatic Attraction (ESA) and charged particles clinging and contaminating products.
It is recommended to use ionizers with feedback mechanisms, so you’re notified if the offset voltage is out of balance.
5. Increase ESD Training and Awareness
ESD Training is a requirement of every ESD Program. When handling ultra-sensitive devices, it is even more important to remind everyone what pre-cautions are necessary to avoid damage. Regular ‘refreshers’ are a must and it is recommended to verify the effectiveness of the training program, e.g. through tests. So, who, when and what should be taught?
ESD training needs to be provided to everyone who handles ESD sensitive devices – that includes managers, supervisors, subcontractors, visitors, cleaners and even temporary personnel.
Training must be given at the beginning of employment (BEFORE getting anywhere near a sensitive products) and in regular intervals thereafter.
Training should be conducted on proper compliance verification procedures and on the proper use of equipment used for verification.
6. Create an enhanced Compliance Verification Plan
We talked in a previous post about compliance verification, what it is and how to create a plan that complies with the ESD standard. So, if you already followed our steps and have a plan in place, here are a few tips to improve your compliance verification plan:
Use a computer data collection system for wrist straps and foot grounders testing
Increase the test frequency of personnel grounding devices from once per day to every time the operator enters the EPA
Use continuous monitors where operators are grounded via wrist straps. Consider computer based monitor data collection system, e.g. SMP. This should include continuous monitoring of the mat Ground.
Use Ground continuous monitors, e.g. Ground Master. At a large facility, the most frequent reoccurring violation is the ESD mat ground cord either becoming disconnected from the mat or grounding point. As Ground continuous monitors will only test the fact that the mat is grounded, it is still imperative that the Resistance to Ground of the mat is regularly tested. Remember that the use of improper mat cleaners can raise the mat surface resistance above the upper recommended level of <109
Test ionizers more frequently or consider self-monitoring ionizers. Computer based data collection systems are a good alternative, too.
Increase the use of a static field meter and nano coulomb testing to verify that automated processes (like auto insertion, tape and reel, etc.) are not generating charges above acceptable limits.
“Class 0” items require additional measures of ESD protection due to their sensitivity to ESD damage. The best way to protect these ultra-sensitive components is to increase ESD protective redundancies and periodic verifications to all ESD Control technical elements.
To decrease the probability of ESD damage while handling ultra-sensitive items, additional precautions are required. This includes additional and/or more stringent technical requirements for ESD control products, increasing redundancies, and more frequent periodic verifications or audits.
Additionally, ESD control process systems should be evaluated as to their performance as a system. It is important to understand how the technical elements in use perform relative to the sensitivity of the devices being handled. Thus, tailoring the process to handle the more sensitive parts. For example: If the footwear/flooring allows a person’s body voltage to reach 80 volts and a 50 withstand voltage item gets introduced into the process, you must either allow only handling via wrist straps or would have to find a way to modify the footwear/flooring performance to get peak voltages below the 50 volt threshold.
Remember: The ESD Standard gives recommendations that will always be behind current/future developments. As soon as a Standard is published, technology will have progressed. In order to protect your devices and company reputation for reliable devices – it is recommended your company take responsibility to implement methods/procedures that exceed the recommendations of the ESD Standard to fit your sensitive component requirements.
Last time we explained how to easily create a compliance verification plan and why it’s important to have one in place. Today’s post will elaborate on the subject of periodic verification and highlight common products in your EPA that should be regularly verified and more importantly how they should be checked.
Why periodic verification Compliance verification is a requirement of ANSI/ESD S20.20:
“The Organization shall prepare an ESD Control Program Plan that addresses each of the requirements of the Program. Those requirements include: – Training – Product Qualification – Compliance Verification – Grounding / Equipotential Bonding Systems – Personnel Grounding – ESD Protected Area (EPA) Requirements – Packaging Systems – Marking” [ANSI/ESD S20.20 clause 7.1 ESD Control Program Plan]
Installed ESD Control products must be checked regularly to ensure they meet the required limits per the ESD Standard. “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.” [ANSI/ESD S20.20 clause 7.3 Compliance Verification Plan]
Below, you will find a list of the most common ESD Control Products in your EPA and how to test them:
Worksurface Matting The purpose of ESD workbench matting is to ensure that when charged conductors (conductive or dissipative) are placed upon the surface, a controlled discharge occurs and electrostatic charges are removed to ground. However, this only occurs if the ESD worksurface is connected to ground. If the matting is out-of-spec, not grounded at all, or the stud on the mat has become loose or if the ground cord has become disconnected, charges cannot be removed.
Many companies use a daily checklist, which includes the operator having to verify that ground cords are firmly connected.
Remember to regularly clean your workbench matting to maintain proper electrical function. Do not use cleaners with silicone as silicone build-up will create an insulative film on the surface.
The company’s compliance verification plan should include periodic checks of worksurfaces measuring:
Resistance Point-to-Point (Rp-p) and
A surface resistance tester can be used to perform these tests in accordance with ANSI/ESD S20.20 and its test method ESD TR53; if these measurements are within acceptable ranges, the worksurface matting and its connections are good.
Wrist Straps As discharges from people handling ESD sensitive devices cause significant ESD damage, the wrist strap is considered the first line of ESD control.
Before handling ESD sensitive items, you should visually inspect the wrist strap to see if there are any breakages etc. The wrist strap should then be tested while worn using a wrist strap tester. This ensures all three components are checked: the wrist band, the ground cord (including resistor) and the contact with the operator’s skin. Records of each test should be kept. Wiggling the resistor strain relief portion of the coil cord during the test will help identify failures sooner. Analysis and corrective action should take place when a wrist strap tester indicates a failure.
It is recommended that wrist straps are checked at least daily. An even better solution to daily wrist strap checks is the use of continuous monitors. They will alarm if the person or worksurface is not properly grounded.
A note on worksurface matting and wrist straps: if you are using common ground points to ground the operator and/or work surface matting, remember to measure resistance to ground regularly as well (every 6 months for example).
Floor Matting A flooring / footwear system is an alternative for personnel grounding for standing or mobile workers. Foot grounders quickly and effectively drain the static charges which collect on personnel during normal, everyday activities. Foot grounders should be used in conjunction with floor surfaces which have a surface resistance of less than 1010 ohms.
As ESD floors get dirty, their resistance increases. For optimum electrical performance, floor matting must be cleaned regularly using an ESD mat cleaner. Do not use cleaners with silicone as silicone build-up will create an insulative film on the surface.
Dissipative floor finish can be used to reduce floor resistance. Periodic verification will identify how often the floor finish needs to be applied. As the layer(s) of dissipative floor finish wear, the resistance measurements will increase. So, after some amount of data collection, a cost-effective maintenance schedule can be established.
Floor matting can be checked using a resistance meter. A surface resistance meter is designed to measure resistance point-to-point (Rp-p) or surface to ground (Rg) in accordance with ANSI/ESD S20.20 and its test method ESD TR53.
Footwear ESD Shoes or foot grounders play an essential part in the flooring/footwear system.
Before handling ESD sensitive devices, visually inspect your ESD footwear for any damage. Just like wrist straps, footwear should be checked while being worn using a wrist strap/footwear tester.
Records of each test should be kept. Analysis and corrective action should take place when a footwear tester indicates a failure. Footwear needs to be checked daily.
ESD Packaging Re-using shielding bags is acceptable as long as there is no damage to the shielding layer. Shielding bags with holes, tears or excessive wrinkles should be discarded.
It is up to the user to determine if a shielding bag is suitable for re-use or not. The testing of every bag before re-use is not practical. Many companies will discard the shielding bag once used and replace it with a new one. Others will use a system of labels to identify when the bag has gone through five handling cycles:
Non-reusable labels are used that require the label be broken to open the bag.
The bag is then resealed with a new label.
When there are five broken labels, the bag is discarded.
The same principle applies to other ESD packaging, e.g. component shippers.
Ionizers Ionizers are intended to neutralize static charges on insulators thereby reducing their potential to cause ESD damage. However, poorly maintained ionizers with dirty emitter pins and out-of-balance ionisers can put a charge on ungrounded items.
Remember to clean ionizer emitter pins and filters regularly. You can now even purchase ionizers that will alarm when emitter pins need to be cleaned or the ionizer is out of balance.
Static neutralization (the ability to reduce or eliminate a charge on a surface) is an important quality for ionizers. Static decay time is defined as the time interval needed to reduce a defined voltage potential on an object to a defined lower potential by means of applied ionized air. Another important aspect for ionizers is the ability to produce a balanced stream of positive and negative ions. A charged plate monitor or equivalent can be used to accurately measure both of these parameters.
For more detailed information on measuring the performance of ionizers refer to the ESD standard ANSI/EOS/ESD-S3.1 for Protection of Electrostatic Discharge Susceptible Items-Ionization.
Wrist Strap/Footwear and Resistance Testers etc. So, you check your wrist straps and/or footwear and workbench and/or floor matting regularly. But have you remembered the testers themselves? What good do all the checks do, if the testers you use are out-of-spec and show you incorrect results?
Yearly calibration is recommended – many manufacturers offer a calibration service or alternatively you can purchase calibration units from them and perform the calibration yourself.
There you have it – a list of the most commonly used products in your ESD Protected Area (EPA) that you should check on a regular basis.
Questions for you: Do you have a verification plan in place? If so, how often do you check your ESD protection products?