Tuesday, February 14, 2017

How Well Is Your ESD Flooring and Footwear System Working? – Guest Blog

Figure 1: System Resistance Test
by Craig Zander, Transforming Technologies

Craig’s latest Q Source Resource Guest Blog looks at how a Walking Voltage Test reveals how well your ESD flooring & footwear system is working.

The ESD flooring and footwear system is an effective way to ground people that need to be on the move in a factory. ESD footwear, when worn properly, is designed to drain the voltage from a person to the floor and then to ground. Periodic testing of both the floor and the footwear is required to verify proper functioning.

Until recently, a System Resistance Test (ANSI/ESD STM97.1) was all that was needed to qualify an ESD control flooring and footwear system. If the resistance was less than 35 megohms, it was assumed that the person’s voltage would not exceed 100 volts (the upper limit for ANSI/ESD S20.20). However, this testing is done with the person stationary and having both feet flat on the ground. What happens when the person starts moving and the entire foot is not making contact with the floor?

Figure 2: The Walking Test Pattern
The most recent version of ANSI/ESD S20.20 now requires a Walking Voltage Test (ANSI/ESD STM97.2) be performed when qualifying flooring and footwear systems. The test consists of measuring body voltage generated during a six-step pattern used to simulate moving throughout a facility. This test will determine the actual voltage on the person while moving. Research has shown that when tested separately, ESD floors and footwear systems may pass the resistance test, but when used together, can greatly exceed the 100-volt threshold.

Determining the maximum voltage generated by people moving on the factory floor is very valuable information. By knowing the maximum voltage generated you will know that your flooring and footwear investment is performing as designed. You may also be pleasantly surprised to find out that the system is working quite well and you are able to handle devices with much lower Human-Body Model (HBM) damage thresholds.


Equipment is available to accurately measure and record the walking voltage. One such instrument is the WT5000. The WT5000 Walking Test Kit (Warmbier WT5000 Electrometer Walking Test Kit) measures and records the walking voltage while providing a graphical readout. The instrument connects to a PC using any Windows version for easy data collection. The WT5000 identifies the peak voltages per the requirements in the standards.

The two-in-one EFM51WT (Transforming Technologies 7100.EFM51.WT Warmbier EFM51WT Field Meter Walking Test Kit) meter holds the PEAK value of the measured body voltage, as well as the LIVE static voltage measured on the operator’s body. The kit includes the EFM51 static field meter, walking test adapter plate, hand probe and conductive carrying case. The EFM51 is a fully functional field meter that, in addition to the Walking Test, measures and detects electrostatic fields, surface potentials, and discharge times (with optional charge plate accessory (part number 7100.EFM51.CPS.SET).

You have made the investment in an ESD flooring and footwear system so that people can be mobile while still protecting your products from ESD events. Determining your actual walking voltage generated is critical to knowing that your products are being protected.

CLOSING: Thanks, Craig! We appreciate you filling us in about the necessity of Walking Voltage Tests to ensure proper ESD protection for flooring and footwear systems. Your expertise is invaluable to our Q Source community.

For information about Transforming Technologies and their ESD control/monitoring products (including walking test kits), please visit QSource.com. you.

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