Configuring ESD workstations – keeping potential under control
Electrical voltage not only flows from the power socket, but is also generated by all activities that involve interaction between people, machines and surfaces. Normally, this is not a problem. However, if the workplace is an ESD workstation, then things are different. Find out here everything you need for a perfectly equipped ESD workstation.
What distinguishes an ESD workstation?
General workplace configuration in workshops, industry and administration primarily focuses on ergonomics, stability and functionality. The production, installation and transport of electronic components requires that the sensitive technology be effectively protected from electrostatic discharge (ESD).
Even the most minor spontaneous equalisation of potential between surfaces with different charges can damage or even destroy sensitive technology. This can cause high incidental damages in the form of product failure, complaints and repair costs. This is why components like this may only be worked on in electrostatic protected areas (EPA), where there is special ESD equipment to ensure full earthing when all activities are being performed.
The ESD workstation is not only useful when carrying out quality assurance. It is also a legal requirement for certain products and industries – and regulations extending from A for accessories to Z for zinc plating apply.
What equipment does an ESD workstation need?
EN 61340-5-1, which covers the protection of electronic components against electrostatic phenomena, is the most important guide when you are configuring an ESD workstation. It also defines the most important sources of electrostatic charges that can be neutralised by using the appropriate equipment: people, work surfaces and furnishings.
- When walking, working and even when sitting, people build up a static charge due to friction. ESD work clothing is therefore mandatory in EPAs. Conductive soles on work shoes as well as ESD accessories such as the earthing wrist strap must be worn for every activity.
- The foundation of every ESD workplace is formed by ESD floor coverings. They ensure that the voltage discharged from all other components is actually transferred to the floor. If this type of mats aren't laid out, you are literally playing electrical table tennis.
- Only ESD chairs and tables are suitable for machining, and for the storage of products, tools and materials you should place your trust in ESD shelving systems and ESD storage bins.
- If the component is moved from the EPA to other areas of the company, things might become critical. ESD transport equipment and trolleys with special tyres minimise the risk of discharge. Retrofitting? No problem with ESD wheels and castors.
What else do I have to be aware of at ESD workstations?
- Regardless of whether the facility is ESD compliant, the conduct by your personnel in EPAs is the most important factor when it comes to protecting your components. Regular training is mandatory.
- Unlike cleanrooms, for example, ESD workplaces do not have to be set up separately from other work areas. However, it must be ensured that the ESD area is recognisable for everyone and that no one is able to enter it without protective measures. If the floor plan isn't quite right, then prefab offices might provide a remedy.
- Ensure your ESD equipment is subject to regular checks. Wear and tear will reduce the discharge capacity over time. Timely replacement helps you avoid spending money and scrapping components.
You can find out more about how to configure EPAs in our product guide to ESD: Protection from damaging discharges.
Please contact us any time if you have any questions about ESD workstations!