with all levels of the organization: from production personnel to
management level employees. The more diversely you staff the
effort with key stakeholders, the deeper your pool of expertise.
The deeper the expertise, the stronger your success.
Know thy company—Assess the problem
The effort you put into building your business case will serve
as the foundation for your assessment of your operations,
facilities, and challenges. Dive deep into evaluating all components that impact your ESD record: the facilities, processes, and
materials across the spectrum of your operations. From purchasing and receiving to the warehouse and shipping, review
the equipment, product, processes, materials, and procedures
that could be contributing to ESD. Then audit your facilities
(including your people) to identify the location and measure
the presence of electrostatic fields in your operations. Pay special attention to equipment, processes, and products that have
high ESD sensitivity.
Put on your futurist hat. Take the time to examine the
company’s technology and product development roadmaps to
try to anticipate future challenges and design those considerations into your plan.
The heart of the matter—Creating the plan
Armed with your research and assessment, it’s time for your
committee to develop the plan.
A practical word of advice: concise and bulleted is better.
Today’s electronic world demands a new form of writing. If
you plan to print to paper, remember that corporate book-shelves are loaded with dusty narratives that could rival War
and Peace and whose pages have never been cracked open to
see the light of day.
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.
Your team will determine acceptable ESD sensitivity levels and
you must develop procedures that will ensure protection. Don’t
skimp on delineating fully developed procedures—these will be
the heart of your plan. Remember, clear procedures are important
for ISO certifications and in meeting ANSI requirements.
From buzz to buy-in—Rolling out the ESD
Put on your marketing hats (and enlist the help of corporate
communications and marketing) to develop and execute a
roll-out plan. While this part of the process doesn’t exactly
reside in the comfort zone of most facilities engineers, it’s a
critical path to success.
Position the program as central to happy customers,
enhanced profits, and future business success. Make sure
senior management has a big role in the plan—without their
imprimatur it will be difficult for the initiative to gain traction.
The best communication is two-way, so build in components
that allow employees to pose questions and offer feedback.
The employees directly linked to ESD control will require
more in-depth communications—developing more technical,
detailed information for them will pay off.
Don’t limit your ESD control communications to only a roll-out program. Working with your communications group, be
sure to keep it front and center in employees’ minds with timely
and compelling updates. Don’t waste anyone’s time communicating for communication’s sake but be sure to let employees
know about performance improvements or changes to the plan.
Train the team—And train them again
Training for ESD control is an ongoing loop that will continue
to yield increasing returns. Enlist the services of your training
department (usually a component of Human Resources) to
design a program targeted to your objectives. Because ESD control is an issue across many parts of the organization, you may
wish to prioritize departments based on the data you developed
when you assessed the problems and the opportunities for
Training without verification is usually less effective than
a program that includes testing—both to measure the comprehension of participants and to gauge the effectiveness of
the training program. Be prepared to make adjustments to
the program—and plan to periodically overhaul the training
approach and materials in order to keep the program fresh.
Finally, your training program is also a front line marketing
tool so be sure to build in statistics and information that clearly
defines the scope and costs of the ESD problem. And remember
to update your training to also communicate the improvements.
Review, assess, adjust—And do it again
An effective ESD control program is constantly being reviewed,
analyzed, and adjusted in a continuous improvement loop. You
will also need to make changes as new products and processes
are ramped up, as technology changes, and as issues with quality or customer response arise. And never underestimate the
interest of the finance department on your program; you will
need to document the return on investment (ROI) to ensure
continued necessary funding. Keep a dedicated, ongoing log
of key metrics that can demonstrate both operations improvement and ROI. If you start with the statistics before adoption
of the program and track these statistics faithfully, you should
have a winning case.
Don’t hesitate to make changes or mid-course adjustments.
To paraphrase Darwin: survival doesn’t go to the strongest, it
goes to those willing to adapt to change.
Richard Bilodeau’s 30-year career includes plant engineering
positions in clean manufacturing. He has designed, operated, and
supervised the construction of advanced technology facilities and
engineered clean manufacturing facilities for lithium-ion batteries, medical devices, electronics, and pharmaceuticals. Contact: