Controlling Static in Data Centers

Static In Data CentersControlling Static in Data Centers

Controlling static in data centers is crucial for maintaining the reliability and longevity of critical electronic equipment. Let’s examine the reasons why static poses a problem in data centers and explore effective solutions.

The Impact of Static in Data Centers

Hardware Damage due to ESD:

Static electricity can destroy sensitive electronic components via Electrostatic Discharge (ESD).  ESD is when a person or object with an electrostatic charge touches a computer component, which results in a spark that can burn a hole or destroy a component. Even a small discharge so tiny that a human cannot feel it (as low as 10 volts) can damage integrated circuits, memory modules, and other hardware. ESD can cause immediate failure or weaken components over time.  Controlling static has long been a priority for manufacturers of computer equipment and other manufactures working with electronics.

Contamination & Dust Attraction:

Electrostatic Attraction (ESA) is when static charges attract dust particles. A charged surface can act as a magnet for even minimal contamination in the air.  Dust buildup on components can obstruct airflow, increase operating temperatures, and reduce system efficiency. Over time, this accumulation can also lead to hardware failures.

Solutions for Controlling Static in Data Centers

Personnel Grounding:

People are the greatest source of static generation & damage.  Voltage is generated on the body as people move and it is important for personnel working in data centers to ground themselves by wearing straps and by using non-charging equipment. Wrist straps are the most common method to connect to a common ground via a coiled cord, preventing static buildup on their bodies.

Heel grounders serve a similar purpose for mobile operators, grounding personnel through their shoes when standing on an ESD control floor.

ESD Gloves:

Technicians should wear ESD assembly gloves when handling components. ESD gloves are made from conductive materials that prevent ESD as well as contamination from hand oils.

Cut-resistant ESD gloves provide the same ESD benefits  with additional protection against cuts while handling sharp objects.  ESD Hot Gloves are worn when handling items at high temperatures.

ESD Flooring:

Data centers should consider investing in static control flooring. These specialized floors have conductive properties that prevent static buildup on the personnel and provide a safe path for static charges to dissipate of the body. ESD flooring also reduces the risk of personnel-generated static when walking or moving equipment.  Some companies may choose to cover all floors with ESD tiles or Anti-Static Floor Paint while others will use ESD mats in specific areas.  ESD mats can provide additional Anti-Fatigue benefits as well protecting the appearance of the floor beneath.

ESD Table Mats:

Workstations where equipment is handled or stored should be equipped with ESD table mats. These mats provide a grounded surface for assembling and repairing hardware.

Technicians can place components on these mats to prevent ESD during handling.

Ionizing Blower & Ionizing Guns

Ionizers emit air filled with ions that neutralize static charges on surfaces. Ionizing benchtops or overhead blowers can be used to protect up to a 4′-6′ area workstation from static when working with hardware.

  • BFN801 – Benchtop Blower
  • BFN802 – 2 fan Overhead Blower
  • BFN803 – 3 fan Overhead Blower

Ionizing Guns are used to clean equipment.  They work twofold: as a forceful blow off gun that easily removes particulate from surfaces and as a neutralizer to remove the charges responsible for the attraction of contaminants to product surfaces.

ESD Wipers:

ESD wipers are specialized wipers that do not generate a significant static charge when  cleaning equipment. Regular cleaning with standard wipers may induce a charge through friction that attracts dust.  ESD Wipers help remove dust and prevents static buildup.

Elimination of Non-Essential Plastics:

A rule in ESD prevention is to eliminate all non-essential sources of ESD with plastic being the biggest source. Replace common items like trash cans, trash liners, computer peripherals (mouse and keyboard), pens, and sheet protectors with ESD-safe versions. The ESD-safe versions are made from antistatic materials, which to not significantly turbocharge reducing the risk of static buildup and ESD.

Summary: Controlling Static in Data Centers

By implementing static control measures, data centers can significantly reduce the impact of ESD, enhance equipment reliability, and minimize costly downtime due to hardware failures. Data centers should create Static Safe areas to work on electronics and ground personnel.

Remember, prevention is key when it comes to static control!