Monday, August 15, 2011

Elements of an Effective ESD Control Program – Part 3: The ESD Audit Program

Written and researched by guest blogger, Eric Puszczewicz, Marketing Manager, Transforming Technologies

An effective ESD Control Program is important for addressing static damage, creating enforceable ESD training principles, and instituting an audit program to ensure everything runs smoothly. We've previously discussed ESD Prevention and ESD Training Programs in Parts 1 and 2 of our feature series. Now, we'll wrap up our series with a look at ESD Audit Programs.

An ESD audit program is the engine that keeps the ESD Control Program running smoothly by continually reviewing, verifying, analyzing, and providing feedback to improve all aspects of the program. An audit program reinforces management's commitment to ESD compliance, triggers corrective action when issues arise, and helps foster continuous improvement.

A charge plate monitor tests
ionizer performance.

There are three types of ESD Audits that are performed: Program Management, Quality Process, and ESD Control Program Verification. Each audit is performed at different intervals but each is vital to an organization's successful ESD Control Program.

A Program Management Audit evaluates how well a program is managed and the strength of the management commitment. This program emphasizes factors such as the existence of an effective implementation plan, realistic program requirements, ESD training programs, regular verification audits, and other critical factors of program management. This audit should be done annually or bi-annually.


Resistance meters evaluate the
resistive properties of a surface.

A Quality Process Audit is a daily maintenance of the program. Examples include daily testing of wrist straps/footwear and checking the quality of electrical grounds. These should be checked by operation personnel on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

The ESD Control Program Verification Audit verifies that program procedures are followed and that ESD equipment is within specification or is functioning properly. This procedure typically involves a checklist of ESD materials and equipment to test, such as ionizers, work surfaces, and wrist straps. All ESD areas must be evaluated and this is typically done by a random sampling. This type of audit requires the use of basic ESD test equipment: a charge plate monitor to test ionizer performance, a static field meter to test the static buildup on surfaces, and a resistance meter for evaluating the resistive properties of surfaces. This audit should be done monthly.


Test surface static with a Static Field Meter.


As with the actual ESD control procedures of companies, audit programs vary from company to company. To ensure a successful program, specific points must be addressed:
  • The written and defined ESD Control Program must be reviewed
  • Testing and measurements must be taken of all ESD areas and equipment
  • Audits must be regularly scheduled and performed
  • Documentation of audit results must be created and made available for review
  • Corrective action must be used, if necessary

Audits should be performed by the ESD manager or by unbiased outside auditors from other departments. Oftentimes, paid professional ESD auditors may be the best course of action, but input from the operations personnel is also important and should be considered at all times.
Auditing is a key element in maintaining an effective ESD control program. It helps ensure that procedures are properly implemented and it can provide a management tool to gauge program effectiveness and make continuous improvements.

That ends our look at ESD Audit Programs and concludes our discussion of an effective ESD Control Program. This three-part, introductory series is just the beginning of our focus on ESD control. Please check back soon for other articles covering this very important topic.

To learn more about Transforming Technologies' static control resources, or to place an order for wrists straps, ionizers, and more, please visit QSource.com's Transforming Technologies section or give us a call at 800-966-6020.

Special thanks to our guest blogger, Eric Puszczewicz from Transforming Technologies' Static Care blog.

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