Increase your Return on Investment with a successful ESD Control Programme
It is now well-known that electronic devices and systems can be damaged by exposure to high electric fields as well as by direct electrostatic discharges. Many companies implement an ElectroStatic Discharge (ESD) Control Programme with the aim of improving their operations. Effective ESD control can be a key to improving:
- Quality and
- Customer satisfaction.
A successful ESD Control Programme can also save you money which we want to focus on in today’s post.
Types of ESD Damage
There are two types of ESD damage:
1) catastrophic failure and
2) latent defects.
While catastrophic failures cause an ESD sensitive item to be damaged permanently, latent defects only partially degrade an ESD sensitive item that is exposed to an ESD event. It may continue to perform its intended function and may not be detected by normal inspection. However, intermittent or permanent failures may occur later. Even if an ESD sensitive component has quite a high withstand voltage and no catastrophic failure has been caused, latent defects may still make your life miserable.
Types of ESD Damage
A catastrophic failure of an electronic component can be the least costly type of ESD damage as it may be detected and repaired at an early manufacturing stage.
Latent damage caused by ESD is potentially costlier since damage occurs that cannot be felt, seen or detected through normal inspection procedures. Latent defects can be very expensive as the product passes all inspection steps and the product is completed and shipped. Latent defects can severely impact the reputation of a company’s product. Intermittent failures after shipping a product can be frustrating, particularly when the customer returns a product, reporting a problem which the factory again fails to detect. It consequently passes inspection and the product is returned to the customer with the problem unresolved.
Implementing an ESD Control Programme
A prerequisite of ESD control is the accurate and consistent identification of ESD susceptible items. Some companies assume that all electronic components are ESD susceptible. However, others write their ESD control plan based on the device and item susceptibility or withstand voltage of the most sensitive components used in the facility. A general rule is to treat any device or component that is received in ESD packaging as an ESD susceptible item.
“The Organization shall prepare an ESD Control Program Plan that addresses each of the requirements of the Program. Those requirements include:
- compliance verification
- grounding / equipotential bonding systems
- personnel grounding
- EPA requirements
- packaging systems
- marking.” [EN 61340-5-1 clause 5.2.1 ESD control program plan]
“Each company has different processes, and so will require a different blend of ESD prevention measures for an optimum ESD control program. It is vital that these measures are selected, based on technical necessity and carefully documented in an ESD control program plan, so that all concerned can be sure of the program requirements.” [EN 61340-5-1 Introduction]
Increasing Return on Investment with an ESD Control Programme
When it comes to reducing quality failures due to ESD, a thorough ESD Control Programme that is followed throughout the receiving, manufacturing, storage and shipping departments, is essential.
Below are two case studies that show what return on investment (ROI) can be achieved from implementing an ESD Control Programme.
Former ESD Manager Terry O’Malley collected data for their Albuquerque and St. Louis facilities. The graph clearly displays a reduction in return and repair costs of more than 50% after an ESD Control Programme was implemented.
ROI for AT&T (Source)
The below overview shows the relationship between the relative cost benefits and compliance to Lucent’s ESD Control Programme. You can expect a typical ROI of 1,000% for a strict ESD Control Pogramme used by Lucent.
“Cost Benefit and ESD Control Programme Compliance” Relationship for Lucent (Source)
Organisations like AT&T, Motorola, Agilent Technologies and IBM were able to demonstrate the benefits of implementing an ESD Control Programme. In each of these companies, the introduced programme resulted in a substantial return on their original investment. The only way to accurately calculate the return on investment (ROI) from an ESD Control Programme, is to track the return, repair and scrap cost data before and after the introduction.
Even if your company is unable to track detailed data, it is still worth investing in an ESD Control Programme. “A properly implemented ESD program can have an ROI exceeding five to one within six months.” (Source)
As electronic technology advances, electronic circuitry gets progressively smaller. As the size of components is reduced, so is the microscopic spacing of insulators and circuits within them, increasing their sensitivity to ESD. Therefore, the need for proper ESD protection increases every day – not just to protect sensitive devices but also to allow companies to survive, be profitable and grow.
“Independent consultants and corporate studies have found that ESD losses can be as high as 10% of annual revenues with an estimated average negative impact of 6.5% of revenues. Based on 1997-2001 production data, the international electronics industry is losing in excess of $84 billion every year. Other than increasing sales, ESD control is the single most profitable opportunity for our industry in today’s economic conditions.” (Source)
A proper ESD control programme will increase profitability of a company by:
- Enhancing quality and productivity,
- Increasing reliability,
- Improving customer satisfaction,
- Lowering repair, rework and field service costs and
- Reducing material, labour and overhead costs