Successfully Developing an ESD Program

Contaminates are attracted to charged surfaces, meaning electrostatic discharge (ESD) can devastate product, equipment, and potentially the reputation of a company. The right program to eliminate ESD will benefit productivity, profits, employees, and consumers.

Controlled Environments Magazine offers some great resources on ESD, including Richard Bilodeau, PE’s article, “Championing an ESD Control Program.”

“The bottom line to remember is that an effective ESD program must be comprehensive in its analysis and identification of ESD impact, comprehensive in its development and execution, and comprehensive in its training, effectiveness assessment, and modification against future requirements” (Bilodeau.)

Here is a summary of what he suggests.

  1. Develop a case for the program. In order to convince the right channels to buy into the program, solid, factual, statistical data must support your cause. Your case must be compelling, and you need information to accomplish this. Bilodeau says, “Pull together data on losses attributed to ESD, past incidents, vulnerable product and process points, and the potential yield, along with financial and operations impacts that a well-crafted ESD control program will deliver.” As with any business document, ask peers to review and proof your drafts.
  2. Obtain the buy-in. Decide who in your organization are key members of management. Address everyone who can impact the funding and approval of the program as well as its execution. Failure to get this buy-in will render even the most brilliant of plans a waste of time.
  3. Assemble a strong team. The success of the program hinges on the competency and commitment of your team. Recruit members from each area of operations that the plan affects, including internal communications and training.
  4. Evaluate the needs of the facility and company. Assess all the components that affect ESD record, including purchasing and receiving, warehouse and shipping, equipment, product, processes, materials, and procedures.
  5. Create your plan. Bilodeau advises that an electronic presentation with concise, bulleted points is preferred. “Make sure your ESD control plan covers the full range of your operations. Clearly delineate responsibilities, procedures, and required reviews. Subdivide the plan into rational sections that can be intuitively and quickly navigated.”
  6. Roll out the plan with buy-in. Happy customers, a boost in profits, and business success should be main themes in gaining buy-in to roll out the plan. Give senior management a prominent role in the plan, and prioritize communication across the company.
  7. Establish a training program. Training is an essential component to the success of any plan, and a training program can also be used to help market the initiative.
  8. Establish a review and assessment plan. Any good initiative is fluid and not static. Continuous improvement should be your goal; identify metrics and benchmarks as well as a timeline to implement this plan.

While these steps translate into a lot of time and effort, they are a necessary and worthwhile formula to success. Remember: people value what they work hard for. To read Bilodeau’s full article, go here.


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