For those whose business relies upon the use or manufacture of sensitive electronic equipment, electrostatic discharge can be an expensive problem. Electrical charges that build up on people and objects during the course of an average workday can pose a threat to the delicate and complex internal components of electronic equipment and can, in some instances, damage them irreparably. Thankfully, Preferred can help mitigate potential electronics disasters through the installation of electrostatic dissipative floor coverings engineered to reduce the accumulation of static charges on the people and objects that come in contact with your valuable electronic investments.
What is Electrostatic Discharge?
Anyone who has touched a doorknob or other metal object after walking across a carpeted floor and subsequently received an unexpected shock is familiar with electrostatic discharge. Friction resulting from the typical movements of humans or objects can result in a buildup of electrons on said people or objects. This buildup of electrons will remain until contact occurs with a grounded, conductive, material resulting in electrostatic discharge. Human skin and animal fur tend to accumulate positive charges while synthetic materials such as styrofoam tend to accumulate negative charges. The electrostatic charge accumulated by a human worker can be as high as 25,000 volts.
Electrostatic discharge tends to damage equipment during activities that require working with sensitive circuit boards and other internal components of electronic equipment. A study revealed that a human employee tends to accumulate a typical charge of 500 to 2,500 volts during the course of an average workday. The resulting discharge, while too slight to be noticed by human senses, is still sufficiently powerful to damage circuitry. It is therefore possible that a busy employee who needs to maintain or repair equipment on the fly could damage or destroy equipment without even realizing what occurred.
The Potential Cost of Electrostatic Discharge
The cost associated with damage resulting from electrostatic discharge can be staggering. In 1986, a study indicated that industry-wide, the total annual cost of electrostatic discharge damage was estimated to be between half a billion and five billion dollars. While an individual organization’s losses due to electrostatic discharge are unlikely to approach such astronomical figures, the financial impact resulting from this form of damage can be greatly reduced by taking appropriate countermeasures. For example, in 1983, Lockheed Missile and Space Company estimated its preventative measures against electrostatic discharge were tantamount to an annual savings of $2 million.
Preventing Electrostatic Damage
A number of measures can be taken to reduce the chances of an electrostatic discharge damaging sensitive and expensive equipment. These measures can include the use of anti-static wrist straps as well as special packaging designed to remain static-free.
In some instances, it may be beneficial to mitigate electrostatic damage on an infrastructural level. This can be accomplished by having Preferred install electrostatic dissipative flooring in areas of facilities where sensitive electronics are stored, constructed, and maintained. Unlike standard epoxy flooring, electrostatic dissipative flooring contains conductive fibers that ground to the concrete sub-flooring. These conductive fibers facilitate the constant flow of electrons from employees and equipment harmlessly to the ground, meaning hazardous charges never have a chance to accumulate.
For more information on electrostatic dissipative flooring as well as estimates and quotes, contact us today.