Tasks of ESD coordinators
ESD coordinators are responsible for creating an ESD control program plan and implementing it in the company's process landscape. They ensure ongoing verification and compliance with the control program.
This is done by continuously measuring the leakage resistances of production and workplace equipment, floors, machines, systems, etc. In addition, an important task in this function is to train employees on the subject of ESD protection.
We spoke to Reinhard Schmeitzl, ESD coordinator at Ginzinger electronic systems, about his tasks and the challenges relating to ESD in production.
In conversation with Reinhard Schmeitzl
Reini, in addition to your work in repair technology, you specialize in everything to do with ESD.
Reini: Yes, that's right, I qualify new ESD control elements for their conductivity for standard-compliant use in the EPA. I'm also often called in to measure component packaging. I also train our new employees.
How do you ensure complete ESD protection for your colleagues?
Reini: Basically, seamless ESD protection only works if everyone actively practices it. This also includes taking responsibility for your own protective clothing. In addition to protective clothing, it is also important to use a wrist grounding strap when handling electronic components in a seated position. Every employee must also pay close attention to insulators such as plastic and polystyrene, as these have absolutely no place in the EPA (electrostatic protected area).
What do you like about your job as an ESD officer?
Reini: I personally find ensuring that ESD protection is continuously optimized in our company a very exciting and challenging task that I also enjoy. There are refresher courses for ESD coordinators every three years, which I attend. In 2024, I will complete my training to become a certified ESD auditor and have already had the opportunity to carry out ESD consulting for some customers.
Challenges in production
What are the biggest challenges in your job?
Reini: It's mainly incoming goods, when suppliers deliver components that are not ESD-sensitive in plastic packaging. These are plugs, antennas, etc. However, as we don't want to have plastic packaging in the EPA, I work with Purchasing and the suppliers to find a solution so that the packaging is dissipative in future.
Particular attention must be paid to the earthing strap for seated activities in electronics production. This is because, despite ESD-resistant clothing, wear and tear or dirt particles deposited in the chair castors can greatly reduce the dissipative capacity of chairs. The straps compensate for this problem.
My coordinator work has become more and more extensive recently. We have therefore decided to appoint and train ESD assistants for the individual EPA areas in future. These ESD assistants will carry out the verification measurements of the ESD control elements in their areas independently and are the direct contact persons for ESD-relevant issues in their areas.
Ongoing monitoring of measures
During the coronavirus pandemic, it became clear how important it is to continuously review the ESD measures described...
Reini: Yes, I was particularly challenged here. When there were a lot of coronavirus cases in development, the ESD mats on the development workstations were regularly wiped down with disinfectant. This agent contains a lot of alcohol, which destroyed the conductivity of the mats. As a result, the mats had an insulating effect and ESD-protection was no longer provided. The measurements in the ESD audit brought this to light. If three to five mats fail every year, in 2021 there were suddenly 22 mats!
After several tests, the solution was to disinfect the surfaces and then immediately wipe them with ESD cleaner. This neutralized the chemical process. ESD cleaner has a more alkaline structure. It is much gentler than normal cleaning agents and does not contain alcohol, which is bad for conductivity.
Reini, thank you very much for talking to us!
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