04 Aug

Managing Static and ESD in Call Centers

Managing Static and ESD in Call Centers

Thanks to movies and TV, no matter how old you are, you’ve probably seen the old switchboards – whether it’s on Agent Carter or reruns of the Andy Griffith Show – and computers  that barely fit inside a room – like in The Imitation Game or the TV show Manhattan.

Nowadays, of course, we carry the switchboard and the computer in a handy-dandy pocket device.

Likewise with emergency services. When we call 9-11, we expect a prompt response, and the person on the other end of the line assures us that police, fire, or ambulance are already in route as they continue to gather our information.

Computers help planes land, monitor traffic on the freeways, and even park your car for you.

But for all the advances in technology, there have been setbacks as well.

In the old days, phone and computer systems were built “solid-state.” Everything was confined within one unit and was protected from outside forces. Internally, they were defended from ElectroStatic Discharge (ESD) by microcircuit gate protectors.

Unfortunately, these gate protectors, while highly effective, tended to slow down the machines they were protecting – kind of like how some companies’ virus protection forces their machines to crawl.

As technology progressed, emergency services, military bases, and flight control centers started abandoning these more stringent preventative measures, in favor of speed.

The end result being, while these computers and call centers are protected in buildings made to withstand hurricanes, earthquakes and power outages, they can be disabled or even rendered completely useless by the tiniest static shock.

Which is why the proper ESD protection and protocols are so important in these mission critical locations.

Another factor to consider is that these facilities are typically open 24-hours a day and have hundreds of people pass through them on a regular basis. Some of them are trained and properly equipped with ESD shoes, heel grounders and even personal wrist straps, but certainly not all of them.

And when there’s a crisis and everyone needs to scramble to get the problem solved, the first thing to go is proper ESD procedures.

The answer is to make these facilities as static proof (or charge proof) as possible.

Like your skin (the largest organ in the human body), flooring is the largest and most vulnerable area for ESD buildup and discharge, if it’s not handled properly.

There are many options for ESD flooring, as we’ve discussed in prior posts, but in this instance, there are really only one option: carbon-fiber laced carpet.

The first thing you should know is that not all ESD carpet is created equal. Some companies promote and sell an ESD carpeting that is treated with a chemical to reduce static that disintegrates over time and must be reapplied.

Avoid these – you don’t want your static protection to be subject to a random timetable. Again, these facilities are always open. You’ll want to invest in a carpet whose static-prevention comes from the permanent physical composition of the materials.

For the same reason, you’ll want to invest in an ESD carpeting that is certified by ANSI/ESDA standards and reduces static regardless of the humidity levels or footwear worn by the personnel.

As an added bonus look for ESD carpet that is low maintenance, crush resistant, able to handle heavy foot traffic and comes with a lifetime warranty.

Contact us today for more information or to talk about your ESD flooring options.  We would love to be your full service, seamless ESD solution provider.

21 Jul

Can New Flooring Be Installed Over Old?

Can New Flooring be installed over Old Flooring?

Whether your company has just invested in a new to them facility or is upgrading their current locations due to time or elevated ANSI/ESD standards, one of the largest expenses they will face is replacing the existing flooring.

Based on the existing installation, this can be a very time consuming task – days to strip off the old flooring, etch or acid burn off any leftover adhesive residue.  Plus the very real possibility of damaging the concrete itself or a pre-existing moisture barrier.

Which leads to a popular question from facility and production managers – can new ESD flooring be installed over existing flooring?

And depending on who you talk to, the answer is: Yes. No. And, of course, Maybe.


If an existing floor is well-bonded, ANSI/ESD 20.20 compliant and in reasonably good condition, theoretically, the answer is yes.

Certain flooring options pose a lower risk and are considerably easier to install over an older floor. Vinyl, for example, generally can be installed over top existing vinyl. Generally.

Problems arise when the old floor has become hard and stiff.  It may be harder to install over it, and if the initial bond doesn’t take, vinyl is unforgiving and may delaminate – requiring a complete stripping and reinstallation that is likely to cost more than the initial money saved, not to mention the time lost during the removal and reinstallation.

An additional choice to consider is installing carpet tiles over old vinyl. Carpet has become a popular choice to install over existing floors because the irregularities of the surface below the carpeting are virtually hidden behind its barely reflective surface.

Another option is Zero Stat Crete – a state of the art water-based epoxy coating – which can, after proper testing, be applied over an area that has had the previous vinyl or carpeting tile removed – often without needing to strip off any leftover adhesive.


Some experts caution that you should NEVER install a new floor covering over an old one. Along with the warnings above, the old flooring might hide structural defects, might not be properly bonded or might result in a plasticizer contamination of the new flooring, which could radically affect the quality and effectiveness of its ESD prevention.

Also, by not removing the old flooring, moisture concerns that need to be addressed may not be discovered.

Additionally, depending on the age of the old flooring, it might have been made with asbestos, a manufacturing material that causes severe respiratory problems and may lead to death.


Experts say that almost any floor can be installed over an old floor as long as the old floor is in good condition and well-bonded to the sub floor. BUT…

There are just too many variables to accurately consider or discuss every flooring replacement or recovering option in a single posting.

Even if your scenario is similar one of the ones we’ve elucidated above, there may be additional factors in your specific facility that are not taken into account in our hypothetical illustrations.

Which is why we always recommend speaking to a qualified flooring professional before making any final decisions. There is not usually a financial cost associated with their consultation and/or site visit, but the preventative savings far outweigh any nominal up front cost.

For a free consultation – or any other questions you may have, please contact us.  We would love to be your full service, seamless ESD solution provider!

01 Jun

Edison vs Tesla: The Battle for Electric Power

The battle of Edison vs Tesla

The year was 1887…

It was a battle royale – Jefferson vs Adams, the North vs the South, Hulk Hogan vs Randy Macho Man Savage, Jobs vs Wozniak, Trump vs Clinton… AC vs DC.

And when the dust settled, the guy who won really lost and the guy who lost became the champion that everyone remembers.

Back in the day before anti-trust laws forced the breakup of the remaining empire, the source of electricity – the power company – was known by one name… Edison. The name still lingers at Con-Ed in New York, SoCal Edison in California, and smaller units scattered all across the United States.  But the power that comes into your house wasn’t the famous inventor’s idea.

First Meeting

In 1882, Nikola Tesla left his phone company job in his native Serbia and headed to Paris where he found employment with the Continental Edison Company. There, he so impressed his superiors that they recommended his transfer to the United States, noting that his genius rivaled that of their founder.

Tesla was excited to meet one of his heroes, a man who had accomplished so much with so little training. But this hope quickly died. The very genius that should have brought them together, because of their mutually high opinions of themselves, in fact created a rift almost immediately.

Self-taught Edison preferred to do tedious trial and error experimentation – hence his famous quote about finding 10,000 ways that didn’t work – while Tesla was a trained engineer and creative dreamer who preferred to come up with theories before testing them practically. Which drove them both somewhat crazy.

Tesla lasted less than a year working with his former hero.

While Edison is famous these days for his quotes on productivity – “Genius is 5% inspiration and 95% perspiration,” Tesla believed that mindset was Edison’s biggest stumbling block:

If he had a needle to find in a haystack he would not stop to reason where it was most likely to be, but would proceed at once, with the feverish diligence of a bee, to examine straw after straw until he found the object of his search… I was almost a sorry witness of such doings, knowing that a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90% of his labor.–Nikola Tesla

The War of the Currents

But the most famous falling out between the two men came to become known as the “War of the Currents.”

Edison stood by direct current (DC), while Tesla advocated for alternating current (AC).

The man who became a household name after his invention of the light bulb, the phonograph, the movie camera and countless other helpful, soon to be household items, didn’t want to bring “dangerous” alternating current into every home.  He was convinced the best way, and certainly the safest way, to power the world was through single direction DC power.

But Tesla, with his theoretical approach, pointed out that DC power had severe limitations that would impact the future. In the 1880’s, DC technology only allowed for a power grid with a one-mile radius from the power source. And while DC only went one way, AC power allowed the flow of energy to go both ways, creating a much more practical solution for transmitting large quantities of energy to power an industrial city, which he predicted the United States would rapidly see more of in the coming years.

Unfortunately, Tesla did not always employ his considerable prognostication techniques to his own life. In his efforts to prove his former mentor wrong, he made a deal with a Pittsburgh industrialist whose name would also become a household word – George Westinghouse. Westinghouse paid Tesla a handsome fee, including residuals, for his AC motor and electrical transmission patents and began a campaign to make the public aware of his newly purchased invention.

In retaliation, Edison launched his own propaganda campaign against alternating current, even sending Professor Harold Brown on a “speaking” tour, where he routinely used AC power to electrocute dogs, horses, elephants and a convicted ax murderer in New York.

But everything changed on May 1, 1893—stay tuned next week to find out!

29 Mar

The Truth About 11 Myths of Electrostatic Discharge

11 Myths of Electrostatic Discharge

Would it surprise you to know that a good portion of our modern world would be unable to function without the help of electrostatic discharges (ESD’s)?

No one seems to know quite how it happened, but in 1984, Scott M. Kunen applied for a patent for a “touch controlled switch” – a device he had developed to allow lamps to be turned on or off with the touch of a human hand.

Little did he know that less than a decade later, computer companies would begin adapting his technology, covering it with a variety of static controlling sheaths, creating the capacitive-touch screen, the basis for all modern smart phones, tablets and touch screen laptops.

So, here’s the truth about the myths of electrostatic discharge.

Myths About Electrostatic Discharge

Myth #1 – All ESD is bad.

The truth is, most people use ESD everyday to make phone calls, send text messages, and create emails. The touch controlled switch and the capacitive-touch screen both operate by transmitting small ESD charges from your body into the devices to signal turning a light on, or the letters or numbers desired.

Myth #2 – Electrostatic Discharge is a modern day problem.

Believe it or not, ESD and necessary precautions to prevent it are older than the United States. In the 1400’s, forts and places that stored or produced explosives, gun powder, and even sawdust could fall prey to horrible accidents, so early forms of ESD control were developed and implemented.

Except, of course, when the good guys needed to blow up the bad guys’ stash in a Hollywood movie.

Myth #3 – ESD problems are really quite rare.

In truth, because of the extremely low levels of ESD required to damage small electronics and the fact that damage isn’t always visible or catastrophic, we may never know just how prevalent ESD events are.

Visible static sparks generated by our bodies have to build up between 500-1000 volts, and it takes twice that charge to be felt.  Most sensitive electronics can be damaged by 100 volts or less.

And even if the device continues to function as expected, its life expectancy may be severely diminished and in some cases, latent failure can occur, causing even more damage.

Since we cannot fully prevent or even detect an ESD event, all precautions should be taken to avoid an accidental discharge.

Myth #4 – Discharging fingers and tools before using them is sufficient precaution against ESD mishaps.

Unless you are able to hold your body AND tool perfectly still, you can (and often do) build up a replacement charge that can be discharged into your electronics.

As mentioned above, because of the negligible amount of charge necessary to potentially damage the sensitive parts, you have no way of knowing you are not transmitting a dangerous ESD. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

We recommend that you always use personal wrist straps, dissipative mats and grounding cords for the best chance of circumventing ESD problems.

Myth #5 – You have to touch an item to transmit an ESD to it.

As mentioned above, it takes very little for the human body to build up an electrostatic discharge. Just the movement of lifting your foot off the ground can generate up to 1,500 volts.

And that generated charge can easily leap from your hand to your unprotected device inches away.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of The Truth About 11 Myths of Electrostatic Discharge…

We would love to be your full service, seamless ESD solution provider, no matter what your size or budget.  Contact us today for more information.

19 Feb

Faraday Cages? The Surprising Facts

Faraday Cages

After 10 years, the science fiction show The X-Files recently returned to television. In the very first new episode, there is a scene where scientists are studying apparent alien technology, all the while protected from potential harm because the technology is housed in a Faraday cage.

For most people, Faraday cages seem like the stuff of science fiction – boxes built to protect folks with overactive imaginations who fear the world will end with a sudden electromagnetic pulse or EMP.  But what if I told you that most people benefit from at least one Faraday cage almost every day?

The first Faraday cage was built back in the 1830’s, by Michael Faraday, hence the name.  Faraday was an experimental physicist who worked primarily studying electromagnetism and electrochemistry.

Rumor has it that Albert Einstein had a photo of Faraday that he kept on the wall of his study, right next to his picture of Isaac Newton.

One day Faraday noted that during one of his experiments, excess energy from a charged conductor only rested on the exterior of a container, for some reason not penetrating through the container to ground as electricity typically does.

He set about constructing a box to prove his theory that the inside was somehow shielded from the electrical charge.

He built a room, entirely lined with metal foil and subjected it to high powered electrostatic discharges, simulating lightning.  But the interior of the room showed no gain in electricity.

The shielding had forced the negative charges to the outside and the positive charges to the inside, essentially canceling out the electrical current before it could affect anything within the room.

Later, he added a grounding rod and verified that the charge canceled itself out as it traveled around and into the ground.

Today, the principles that Faraday discovered almost 200 years ago are used all across the world to protect people from stray electromagnetic charges.  Ever wonder why your cell phone drops calls when you’re in an elevator?  It’s a semi-enclosed Faraday cage.

The MRI room in medical facilities, USB cables, coaxial cables (the ones you used to get cable TV from), even cars and airplanes use Faraday shielding to help protect their precious cargo.

And if you want to see one up close and personal, take a look at your microwave.  The metal lines in the glass complete the Faraday cage that protects us from electrical discharge and the radiation used to cook your food.

On a smaller scale, metalized static shielding bags protect small electronic components and circuit boards from the much smaller personal EMP’s our bodies generate, which could cause serious damage to these components. Properly sealed ESD boxes and totes, as well as conductive bins use the same principles to protect larger or larger quantities of components.

Of course, while Faraday cages can be ungrounded and even nested to enhance protection, we always recommend taking the proper grounding procedures to protect yourself and your circuitry.

So remember, Faraday cages are not just for “Doomsday Preppers” and science fiction story tropes.  They are at work every day to make our world a safer place.

Contact us today for more information; we would love to be your full service, seamless ESD solution provider.

14 Sep

Dissipative vs. Static Conductive Flooring: Which Works Best?

Dissipative vs. Static Conductive Flooring: Which Works Best?

Previously, we talked in greater detail about how ESD flooring works. But when it comes to choosing what type of static control flooring to use, the biggest question you need to answer is this:

Should I use static dissipative flooring or static conductive flooring?

Perhaps the most important factor you’ll need to consider in making this decision is safety.

Shouldn’t I Always Choose the Fastest Pathway to Ground?

At first glance, it might seem like a no-brainer: just put in the flooring that has the lowest resistance so that electrostatic discharge is carried most quickly and efficiency to ground. If that’s true, then static conductive flooring is an obvious choice.

But if the floor is too conductive, then we introduce another set of risks to personal safety.

This is where we start to get into safety standards developed by OSHA and the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), among others.

Put simply, “static dissipative” flooring and “static conductive” flooring are two very specific classifications based upon levels of conductivity which is measured in terms of the materials’ resistance to electricity.

Resistance of ESD Flooring Options

Resistance, or impedance, is measurable, and is expressed in ohms. The ohm is a unit of measurement named after Georg Ohm, the German physicist who discovered Ohm’s law. In specifications documents, schematics, and other materials, the ohm is represented by the symbol Ω (the Greek letter omega).

Put simply, higher resistance = lower conductivity.

A substance with resistance measured at zero ohms (0 Ω) would highly conductive conductive (carbon, silver, and copper all have resistance measured in a fraction of an ohm). On the opposite end of the spectrum, a substance with 1 billion ohms (1 × 109 Ω) would have very low conductivity (rubber, which is so resistive that it’s used as an insulator, has a resistance in the 1.00×1013 Ω range, or 10,000,000,000,000 Ω, AKA ten trillion ohms).

In general terms defined by the ESD Association, “conductive” is describes any flooring with a resistance of up to 1 million ohms. “Dissipative” is used for anything greater than 1 million ohms and up to 1 billion ohms. 

ESD Flooring Type Resistance (Ω) Range (Low End) Resistance (Ω) Range (High End)
Static Conductive 1 × 106
Static Dissipative 1 × 106 1 × 109

Unfortunately, these categories are so broad that they aren’t entirely useful.

Thankfully, the ANSI 20.20 specification helps clarify things for us. It indicates that the maximum resistance of the flooring and the person (measured together) should be less than 3.5 × 10ohms.

The NPFA has also specified that flooring should have no less than 25,000 ohms resistance. Below this number, the conductivity of the floor is considered to be too high and therefore unsafe due to risk of electric shock and other hazards.

As you can see, neither the minimum resistance specified by the NFPA nor the maximum specified by ANSI 20.20 lines up perfectly with our terms for “static conductive” or “static dissipative” flooring.

So… we’re left with making a selection based upon the specific needs of your industry. What is the application of the flooring? Will it be used in a clean room? Will it be used in electronics manufacturing? What are the considerations around flammable materials?

Other factors will affect the decision as well. Will the humidity and temperature of the environment be maintained within specific parameters? Both will affect conductivity, not just in the floor, but in the environment as a whole. What other building materials will be used?

Additionally, when specifying the levels of conductivity in flooring, there is a diversity in testing and measurement that exists which will cause test results to vary widely depending upon the methodologies used. It’s important to understand how these measurements will affect the final outcome where conductivity is concerned.

The Bottom Line?

There are a number of factors involved in the decision when you’re selecting between static conductive or static dissipative flooring. Our ESD control experts will be more than happy to help walk you through the decision-making process and the range of options available to you — both from a performance standpoint and from an aesthetic one. Contact us today!

05 Dec

What is Static Electricity?

Q: What is Static Electricity?

A: Static Electricity can be defined as an electrical charge at rest.  ESD is the transfer of static charges between bodies or objects at different electrical potentials. This may be caused by either direct contact or by induction of an electrostatic field.  Static Charges are generated when two materials are rubbed together. This term is called Triboelectric Generation or Tribocharging

Factors that Influence Tribocharging:

  • Intimacy of Contact Speed of Separation
  • Conductivity of Materials
  • Triboelectric Series Position
  • Relative Humidity Read More
05 Dec

The difference between an ESD Control Program and Plan

Q: I’m having a hard time understanding the difference between an ESD Control “Program” and an ESD Control Program “Plan”… Can someone explain what is required? Do I need two documents, one “Program” and one “Plan”, do I need to develop a single ESD document? I’m not sure what the difference between a program and a plan is.

A: It is my understanding that the program is ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007’s way of providing requirements to establish, implement, and maintain an ESD program.

It is my understanding that the “Plan” is the organization’s scope within that “Program” that conforms to their own internal requirements while evolving with changes to technical elements as time goes by.

05 Dec

ESDA Specifications

Q: May I know the standard test procedures and parameters (ie: surface resistivity/surface to or person to ground resistance, decay time or any other parameter if applicable) and recommended values for confirming the worthiness of the following ESD items?


A: Please consult your copy of ANSI/ESD S20.20-1999 from the ESDA at http://www.esda.org/.  It has specific documents for different technical elements.  For example, S1.1 for wrist straps, 2.1 for garments, 3.2 for ionization, 4.1 for worksurfaces-resistive characterization, 4.2 for worksurfaces- charge dissipation, 5.1 for Human Body Model, 5.2 for Machine Model, 5.3 for Charged Device Model, 6.1 for grounding, 7.1 for resistive characterization of materials-flooring materials, 8.1 for symbols-ESD awareness, 9.1 for footwear-resistive characterization, 10.1 automated handling, s11.11 surface resistance of static dissipative planar materials, 11.12 for EDS items-volume resistance of…, 11.2 for Triboelectric charge accumulation testing, 11.31 for bags, 12.1 for seating, 13.1 for electrical potential from soldering/desoldering hand tools, STM 97.1 for floor materials and footwear-resistance measurement in combination with a person, and STM 97.2 for floor materials and footwear-voltage measurement on a person just to name a few.

I could spend a lot of time digging up actual values for these specific items that we provide, but I haven’t put anything like that together all in one place.  I will work on that and perhaps we can post that info all in one place.  But keep in mind.  We do not determine the parameters, we merely work to comply with them.

05 Dec

Minimum ESD earth resistance and voltage

Q: What should be the Minimum ESD earth resistance and voltage?

A: RTG and PTP resistance needs to be between 2.5e4 and 1e06 Ω for conductive and from 1e06 to 1e09 Ω per ANSI/ESD S20.20-1999 via ANSI/ESD S7.1-2005 or the combination of a person wearing ESD footwear and standing on an ESD floor should have a resistance to ground of < 3.5e7 Ω per ANSI/ESD STM97.1.

That’s the resistance part of your question. What should the voltage be? That’s up to you. Go to your design engineers and find out what the most sensitive electronic device is and design a floor that creates no more than ½ of that voltage threshold. At minimum, no ESD flooring system in combination with ESD footwear should create more than 100V per ANSI/ESD STM97.2. I like a floor that generates less than +/- 15 volts. I have more to learn about this testing as I have recently acquired the equipment necessary to measure Body Voltage Tests on all floorings that I install and/or test.