Developing a good ESD control program requires more than just putting ESD controls into place, it requires a plan to verify that the controls are working as intended.
Companies make significant investments in ESD control, in an effort to greatly reduce the chance that electronic components are damaged or destroyed by electrostatic discharges. Significant dollars are spent on ESD control elements such as work surfaces, packaging, flooring, ionization, testing and monitoring, smocks and grounding. These control elements are often selected after careful consideration and assurance that they will perform as designed. Industry standards, such as ANSI/ESD S20.20 and IEC 61340-5-1 include test methods to assure that the ESD control elements will perform, even in challenging conditions (such as low humidity). Many companies select ESD control products that can demonstrate that they meet the requirements listed in the standards.
Once the ESD control elements have been selected and installed, regular testing must be conducted to verify that they are still functioning as intended. Broken wires, contaminated surfaces and worn-out materials can all lead to the failure of the control elements. However, these failures will not be detected if regular testing does not occur.
ESD TR53 Compliance Verification
The ESD Association has published a compliance verification document that details how to test each ESD control element to verify that it is still functioning as intended. (ESD TR53 Compliance Verification). This document is referenced in 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).
ESD TR53 provides requirements for test equipment to be used and outlines procedures for conducting the test to verify compliance to the S20.20 standard. There are step by step instructions on how to conduct the test. What TR53 does not provide however, is guidance on how to discover the causes for test failures.
Compliance Verification Training
Most companies have a dedicated person, or persons, to conduct regular testing of the ESD control elements. It is important that someone in the factory understands not only how to correctly perform the testing, but to understand the potential failure mechanisms for materials that do not meet the established limits. Is it worn out materials, broken wires, contaminated or compromised surfaces, or could it even be a test instrument failure?
TR53 Certified Auditor Training
Training programs exist that provide extensive training on how to audit your ESD controls to verify that they are functioning correctly. The training goes in depth on the operation of test instruments, correct procedures for testing and trouble shooting when the measurements do not meet expectations.
The ESDA has recognized this program as an official certification program for TR53.