Automotive Manufacturing, ESD Safety, Manufacturing

Electrostatic Discharge Damage – Auto Manufacturers

Electrostatic Discharge Damage – The number one thing auto manufacturers want to improve is production. Without production, vehicles parts would never be assembled, employees would lose their jobs, and manufacturing as we know it would die. In order to achieve a high level of productivity, auto manufacturers take into consideration a number of factors:

  •      Safety
  •      Efficiency
  •      Training
  •      Processing time
  •      Automated production

The list goes on, but safety often carries the most weight. Why? Because an unsafe work environment often leads to problems down the road that cause damage and injuries, which can incur significant costs. Electrostatic damage (ESD) is one of the biggest safety threats to automotive manufacturers and their workforce.

Areas of Danger in the Auto Manufacturing Industry

Every piece of electrical equipment has the potential to contribute to the occurrence of ESD. Assembly lines, computers, robotic production equipment, hand tools and devices, clothing, and metal surfaces can all be the catalyst for an ESD event. If buildup in any of these devices is not discharged using controlled measures, the damage can be catastrophic.

Common Industrial Sources of Static Electricity Buildup:

  •      Powered conveyor belts that move non-conductive materials through or over pulleys and rollers
  •      Vehicles with rubber tires
  •      Particles moving through chutes or being conveyed pneumatically
  •      Liquids flowing through pipes and into tanks or containers

Electrostatic charges commonly occur during the mechanical contact and separation of two dissimilar materials. This is called triboelectric charging. For example, dragging a handheld tool encased in plastic across a metal work surface will most likely result in a significant electrostatic charge. Electrostatic charges can be carried in equipment until it comes into contact with a conductive surface. Often ESD events lead to injuries from burns, explosions, and electrical shocks.

ESD Equipment for Auto Manufacturers

A safe work environment is a productive work environment. Choosing equipment that mitigates the risk of incurring ESD events is a priority. The best way to protect workers and equipment is by grounding and using gear that avoids the buildup of charges. Wrist straps, ESD matting, antistatic clothing, and antistatic and shielding bags will eliminate the risk of ESD when used properly.

ESD equipment should be chosen based on the needs of each workspace. Employees that handle electronics throughout the day should wear wrist straps, while employees on the production line should be standing on ESD mats and wearing ESD gloves.

The most valuable assets in any manufacturing plant are the employees. Protecting employees from injuries caused by ESD requires a commitment to safety. The human body is basically a walking electricity conductor that has the ability to spark a reaction that causes a significant ESD event. ESD gloves, heel straps, wrist straps, and footwear should be required when working in environments susceptible to electrostatic buildup.

Safety Guidelines

With the automotive industry quickly adapting to more and more advanced electronic technology, the need for ESD protection continues to increase. Once the proper equipment is in place it’s just a matter of following safety guidelines.

Chances are your manufacturing facility already has extensive safety guidelines, but they may not have guidelines specific to ESD. If that’s the case take some time to review your guidelines and identify areas where the risk of ESD isn’t mitigated. Then determine ways in which safety can be enhanced through the implementation of new procedures and ESD equipment.