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Vermason Continuous Monitors and ESD Control

Vermason Continuous or Constant Monitors pay for themselves by improving quality, productivity, eliminating wrist strap daily testing and test result logging. EN 61340-5-1 specifies wrist strap standard ANSI/ESD S1.1 which states “The wrist strap system should be tested daily to ensure proper electrical resistance. … Daily testing may be omitted if continuous monitors are used.“(1)

Companies manufacturing products containing ESD sensitive items need to ask themselves “how important is the reliability of our products”?
Because wrist straps have a finite life, it is important to develop a test frequency that will guarantee integrity of the system. Typical test programs recommend that wrist straps that are used daily should be tested daily. However, if the products that are being produced are of such value that a guarantee of a continuous, reliable ground is needed then continuous monitoring should be considered or even required.“(2)

The wrist band will normally be worn for several hours at a time so it needs to be comfortable while making good contact with the skin. It is a good idea to check the wrist strap every time it is applied. Constant on line monitors can be used so that any breaks will be immediately found.“(2)

The ESD Association produced the ESD TR 12-01 technical report which is entitled “Survey of Constant (Continuous) Monitors for Wrist Straps”(3). It contains useful information:
Since people are one of the greatest sources of static electricity and ESD, proper grounding is paramount. One of the most common ways to ground people is with a wrist strap. Ensuring that wrist straps are functional and are connected to people and ground is a continuous task.” “While effective at the time of testing, wrist strap checker use is periodic. The failure of a wrist strap between checks may expose products to damage from electrostatic charge. If the wrist strap system is checked at the beginning of a shift and subsequently fails, then an entire shift’s work could be suspect.

Wrist strap checkers are usually placed in a central location for all to use. Wrist straps are stressed and flexed to their limits at a workstation. While a wrist strap is being checked, it is not stressed, as it would be under working conditions. Opens in the wire at the coiled cord’s strain relief are sometimes only detected under stress.

The goal remains consistent; electrical connections are tested between the ground point, coiled cord, wrist band, and body while the wearer performs operations on static sensitive items.

In many EPAs [ESD protected areas] constant monitor wrist straps are used. These fall into two categories, dual wrist band and single wrist band. The dual wrist strap type using a split band is used with a two core cord. The dual wrist strap type normally works using the resistance bridge method. The single wrist strap type uses a single strap for both grounding and monitor purposes and has an a.c. signal injected which is used for monitoring purposes. This type has the advantage of using the simpler single wrist strap.“(4)

Impedance (or single wire) constant monitors:
The impedance monitor uses a detection circuit designed to reduce false alarms and eliminate adjustments. [It] use[s] the phase difference between current and voltage to detect changes in impedance of the cord, band and person. A very low AC voltage is used for constant sensing. Any standard [single wire] wristband and coiled cord can be used.

Impedance Wave Distortion Technology used in Vermason Single Wire Continuous Monitors utilises AC analysis to determine if the correct conditions exist. A steady state 1 volt AC signal is sent out and the impedance (combination of resistance and capacitance) of the system will distort the signal wave. The acceptable distorted wave consists of a 1 megohm resistor and the impedance ranging from a 90 lb., 5 foot tall person on the low end and a 250 lb., 6 foot, 5 inch tall person on the high end. If the 1-megohm resistor is not there, the alarm will sound. If the resistive component of the path to ground exceeds 18 megohms, the alarm will sound. Vermason has never received a skin irritation complaint using impedance wave distortion technology Continuous Monitors.

Resistance (or Dual Wire) constant monitors:
This type of monitor is used with a two wire (dual) wrist strap. When a person is wearing a wrist strap, the monitor observes the resistance of the loop, consisting of a wire, a person, a wristband, and a second wire. If any part of the loop should open (become disconnected or have out of limit resistance), the circuit will go into the alarm state.” “While the continuity of the loop is monitored, the connection of the wrist strap to ground is not monitored.” “There are two types of signals used by resistance based constant monitors; steady state DC and pulsed DC. Pulsed DC signals were developed because of concerns about skin irritation. However, pulse DC units introduce periods of off time (seconds) when the system is not being monitored.“(3)

Vermason Dual Wire Continuous Monitors utilise a steady state DC signal and never have received a skin irritation complaint. Vermason Dual Wire Wrist Straps passed the ANSI/ESD S1.1 flex test at over 1,000,000 cycles vs. the 16,000 requirement while the top competitor has touted their dual wire wrist strap life at only 200,000 cycles. Some brand dual wire wrist straps do not meet the ANSI/ESD S1.1 Breakaway Force requirement of less than five pounds but greater than one pound force.

Resistance Dual Wire continuous monitors, using the same technology as on demand touch testers, is easily understood. An important feature of the Dual Wire Wrist Strap is that even if one conductor is severed, the operator has reliable path-to-ground with other wire. The electrical signal does place that amount of charge on the operator. Vermason Zero Volt Monitor utilises a steady state DC dual polarity signal, with a plus signal sent via one wire and a minus signal sent via the other wire balancing and leaving virtually zero voltage on the operator. A Programmer is available to quickly and accurately set the upper and lower resistance levels to be monitored while the Continuous Monitor is installed at the workstation.

Working surface monitors:
An option available with some continuous or constant monitors is the ability to monitor working surface ground connections. “Some continuous monitors can monitor worksurface ground connections. A test signal is passed through the worksurface and ground connections. Discontinuity or over limit resistance changes cause the monitor to alarm. Worksurface monitors test the electrical connection between the monitor, the worksurface, and the ground point. The monitor however, will not detect insulative contamination on the worksurface.“(3)

Most Vermason Continuous Monitors do monitor the working surface ground. Note: the working surface must have a conductive layer such as Dual Layer Rubber or Dissipative 3-Layer Vinyl or Micastat® Dissipative Laminate with conductive buried layers. Vermason Continuous Monitors are not recommended for use with homogeneous matting.

Selection Considerations:
When considering constant monitors, the equipment cost including the wrist strap, maintenance and training cost, labor time for performing wrist strap tests, and the potential failures due to non-functional wrist straps should be considered. A broken wrist strap may expose products to ESD over an entire shift if it is checked only at shift change with wrist strap checker. Constant monitors may reduce the time people spend testing wrist straps before each shift.“(3)

(1) ANSI/ESD S1.1 Annex A3 Frequency of System Testing
(2) User guide CLC/TR 61340-5-2 Wrist Strap clause Test frequency
(3) ESD TR 12-01 Technical Report Survey of Constant (Continuous) Monitors for Wrist Straps

(4) IEC 61340-5-1 Electrostatics – Part 5-1: Protection of electronic devices from electrostatic phenomena – General requirements

Introducing the New EMIT Zero Volt Monitor Solo!

  • Single Station Continuous Dual-Wire Monitor
    Continuously monitors the ground integrity and charge generation of one operator and supervisor as well as the ground integrity for one ESD worksurface and one optional tool, eliminating the need for periodic testing and record keeping of wrist straps
  • Patented* Dual Polarity Technology
    Provides Real-Time Continuous Monitoring for Operator Path-to-Ground and Presence of 1 Meg Resistor True continuous monitoring (versus pulsed) instantaneously detects broken cords, intermittent faults, dry skin, loose bands and low resistance.
  • Dual Polarity Technology
    Steady-State DC Dual Polarity Signal yields virtually zero voltage on the operator
  • Operator Charge Detection Alarm
    Alarms if the operator generates or comes in contact with a voltage that would be dangerous to an ESD susceptible item
  • RS-485 Communication Ports
    Use with EMIT SIM Software for test data acquisition and management
  • User Adjustable Features
    Use the internal DIP switches to enable / disable test circuits and modify the operator test voltage, operator charge detection voltage and worksurface resistance limit
  • NIST Calibrated with Certificate
    Calibrated with accepted procedures and standards traceable to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. For more information on calibration of EMIT products see Calibration
Item Description Price
50579 ZVM Solo, Europe £211.38

“A properly grounded wrist strap will keep a person’s body voltage to approximately + 10 V. The main advantage to a constant [or continuous] monitor is the immediate indication that the employee receives if the wrist strap falls open. With an unmonitored system, the employee will not be aware of a wrist strap failure until the start of the next shift. This has reliability benefits for an ESD program as it might help reduce or eliminate ESD damage.

There are also other process benefits from using constant monitors such as the elimination of the need to maintain daily test logs and a reduction in the time for employees to make the daily test. For units that also monitor the connection of a work surface to protective earth, it is also possible to reduce or eliminate the checking of the work surface as part of the periodic audit of the process.

Constant monitors might be implemented by an organization due to high reliability requirements imposed by customers.” [CLC/TR 61340-5-2:2008 User guide Annex B.1.3 Constant monitors]

*US patents 6,052,053 and 6,205,408

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High Voltage and ESD Control

When working with voltages over 250 VAC, ESD personnel grounding should not be used, rather ionization may be required to neutralize electrostatic charges. “Wrist straps should not be worn by personnel where they could come into contact with voltage over 250 V.” [CLC/TR 61340-5-2:2008 User guide wrist strap clause]

Per CLC/TR 61340-5-2:2008 User guide wrist strap clause “For personnel safety, wrist straps incorporating a 1.0 x 10^6 ohm resistor should not be used in situations where there is an exposed electrical circuit of 250 V or higher. Some additional options for high voltage operations are as follows:

  • Select a wrist strap system that utilizes a higher value resistor
  • Intentionally isolate the operator from ground through the use of high resistance floor mats or gloves.

NOTE: Several publications exist that provide varying limits of allowable current for personnel safety. For example, most power supplies are current limited to 5 mA. For this reason, the user should check with local safety personnel to determine requirements for their particular area.”

Per CLC TR 61340-5-2 2008 Ionization clause “The primary method of static charge control is direct connection to ground for conductors, static dissipative materials and personnel. However, a complete static control programme must also deal with isolated conductors that cannot be grounded as well as insulating materials (e.g., most common plastics). … Air ionization can neutralize the static charge on insulated and isolated objects by charging the molecules of the gases of the surrounding air. Whatever static charge is present on objects in the work environment, this will be neutralized by attracting opposite polarity charges from the air.”

As important as ESD control is, it is of secondary importance compared to employee safety. Questions regarding safety should be answered by the facility’s safety officer. The safety officer and ESD Coordinator should be aware of this information

EN 61340-5-1 clause 4 “Personnel safety, The procedures and equipment described in this standard may expose personnel to hazardous electrical conditions. Users of this standard are responsible for selecting equipment that complies with applicable laws, regulatory codes and both external and internal policy. Users are cautioned that this standard cannot replace or supersede any requirements for personnel safety.
Electrical hazard reduction practices should be exercised and proper grounding instructions for equipment must be followed.”

Per EN 61340-5-1 wrist strap product qualification is to be tested per ANSI/ESD S1.1 which includes “Current-Limiting Resistance, A resistance value incorporated in series with the wrist strap’s electrical path to ground. This resistance limits electrical current that could pass through the ground cord in the event of inadvertent user contact with electrical potential.” [Section 3 Definition of terms]

When equipment voltage exceeds 250 volts, guidance should be obtained from the appropriate Safety Officer if inadvertent user contact is possible. If so, Wrist Straps and ESD footwear, as well as Static Control Garments, should not be used. If the Safety Officer determines that the high voltage is adequately insulated and isolated, then personnel grounding, which is more effective and less expensive, can be used.

Vermason Wrist Straps [and many Foot Grounders] include a 1 megohm current limiting resistor (or resistance). At 250 volts, a 1 megohm [1,000,000 ohms] resistor limits current to 0.25 milliamp. These products are not recommended for use on equipment with operating voltage exceeding 250 volts. Do not remove the resistor. If it becomes damaged, replace the product immediately.

These products are for ElectroStatic control. They will not reduce or increase your risk of receiving electrical shock when using or working on electrical equipment. Follow the same precautions you would use without ESD grounding devices, including:

  • Make certain that equipment having a grounding type plug is properly grounded.
  • Make certain that you are not in contact with grounded objects other than through the ESD grounding device.

Per CLC/TR 61340-5-2:2008 User guide garment clause Other considerations “Personnel safety should be considered before allowing static control garments to be worn where there is exposure to high voltage.”

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