Organising your ESD Workstation using 5S
Although not strictly related to ElectroStatic Discharge (ESD), we all know that a tidy workstation is essential when it comes to ‘getting the job done’. Having a cluttered desk and not being able to find the tools you need makes everything take twice as long. Ever heard of the 5S methodology? In today’s post, we will show how this approach can be applied to an ESD workstation. We’ll also introduce a few ESD products that can help in becoming more efficient and productive when handling ESD sensitive devices.
“5S is the name of a workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. Transliterated into Roman Script, they all start with the letter “S”. The list describes how to organize a work space for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order.” [Source]
Generally speaking, 5S incorporates 5 phases:
This post is going to focus on the first two steps of 5S.
Sorting an ESD Workstation
Items at an ESD protective workstation should be either dissipative or conductive so that electrostatic charges are removed to ground when in contact with a grounded operator or grounded ESD mat.
“The protection of ESDS is accomplished by providing a ground path to bring ESD protective materials and personnel to the same electrical potential. All conductor and dissipative items in the environment, including personnel, shall be bonded or electrically connected to a known ground or common connection point. This connection results in sharing of charge which equalizes the voltage across all items and personnel and eliminates the chances of an ESD event to ESD sensitive devices. Electrostatic protection can be maintained at a potential different from a “zero” voltage ground reference as long as all items in the system are at the same potential.“ [CLC/TR 61340-5-2 Clause 4.4 Grounding/bonding systems]
So, before moving any further operators need to take a good look at their workstation and eliminate any items that are not essential to their workflow.
“All non-essential insulators and items (plastics and paper), such as coffee cups, food wrappers and personal items shall be removed from the workstation or any operation where unprotected ESDS are handled. The ESD threat associated with process essential insulators or electrostatic field sources shall be evaluated to ensure that:
- the electrostatic field at the position where the ESDS are handled shall not exceed 5 000 V/m;
- if the electrostatic potential measured at the surface of the process required insulator exceeds 2 000 V, the item shall be kept a minimum of 30 cm from the ESDS; and
- if the electrostatic potential measured at the surface of the process required insulator exceeds 125 V, the item shall be kept a minimum of 2,5 cm from the ESDS.
If the measured electrostatic field or surface potential exceeds the stated limits, ionization or other charge mitigating techniques shall be used.” [IEC 61340-5-1 Clause 126.96.36.199 Insulators]
Arranging an ESD Workstation
Once the essential items required to do the job have been identified, the next step is to arrange them in a way that is suitable to the operator’s workflow. Here are a few tools and items that can be useful:
1. Use Colour and Labels
Having a proper colour and labelling system in place will help arrange a workstation and put items in the right places. This in return will ensure operators can find tools and accessories quickly when required.
Operators working with solder irons or performing various cleaning tasks at an ESD workstation will likely be using water or some sort of cleaning agent. ESD dispensing bottles can store these liquids. They come in all sorts of sizes and with various pumps or spouts. Using different colours will help identify the many liquids needed at an ESD workstation.
Examples of Dispensing Bottles – more information
Waste Bin Liners
Bin liners come in different sizes and colours and can be useful when it comes to separating waste. They are non-tribocharging and are designed for use in ESD protected areas where electrostatic sensitive devices are present. Even at low humidity they do not become charged with static electricity. They are made from high quality polyethylene and are as strong as conventional refuse sacks.
Examples of Waste Bin Liners – more information
Document holders are designed for use within ESD Protected Areas in accordance with EN 61340-5-1. They are static dissipative which means charges are removed to ground when placed on a grounded working surface or handled by a grounded operator. Applying them to ESD safe containers will help finding tools, components and accessories.
Examples of Document Holders – more information
2. Use Boxes and Containers
Everything is tidier when using boxes, right? The workstation looks clean and using document wallets (see above) will instantly tell the operator what is inside of each container or box. Everyone’s a winner!
Generally conductive, any electrostatic charges on letter trays are removed to ground when the tray is placed on a grounded working surface or contacted by a grounded operator. They are helpful when organising documents (e.g. production orders) at an ESD workstation.
Example of a Letter Tray
Workstation Organisers are ideal for improving the organisation of a workstation and standardising the placement of tools which is a key concept of the 5S methodology. They can be used for various items which are used on the workstation:
– dispensing bottles,
– flux bottles,
– solder spools,
– wash bottles and
– various other workbench accessories.
Example of a Worstation Organiser – more information
Ideally, Workstation Organisers should be the exact size required for your work area and have the tool openings cut for the tools you have “sorted” and determined need to be kept at the workstation.
Rack Holders, Containers and Hanging Bins
These types of storage solutions are perfect for PCB boards and components. They are generally made of a conductive material so that when placed on a grounded surface, any charges will dissipate to ground.
Examples of a PCB Containers – more information
Maintaining an ESD Workstation
The hard part of ‘change’ is sticking with it and not falling back into old habits – this is where the last 3 steps of 5S come into play: clean, standardise and sustain. It’s essential that:
- An ESD Workstation is cleaned on a regular basis. Ensure all tools, accessories etc. are in the correct place and ESD precautions are followed.
- Procedures and processes are in place so every operator is aware of their responsibilities and how to perform their jobs correctly.
- A regular training and audit schedule is created. They are part of any ESD Programme and will not only ensure that ESD sensitive items are handled properly, but that ESD workstations are maintained.
The 5S methodology can be applied to a wide range of industries including an ESD workstation. There are numerous ESD tools and accessories available that can support companies with the implementation of 5S. The results will be increased efficiency, productivity and output.
Huffington Post: 7 Tips to Organize Your Work Space and Stay Productive
Wikipedia: 5S (methodology)