Keeping Static Under Control

Like other companies doing business in the technology sector, the ESD-control industry has suffered a significant downturn over the past year. Sales reported by most of the major players in the ESD market have been off by double-digit numbers or, in some instances, practically nonexistent. With bloated inventories of parts and products, manufacturers are not fabricating and assembling new electronic products and systems. When assembly operations are curtailed, the need for ESD products such as wrist straps, heel grounders, ionizers, and floor mats declines dramatically.

Commenting on the state of the industry, David Swenson, senior specialist at 3M Electronic Handling & Protection Division had this to say: “The significant factor affecting the ESD-control industry in 2001 was related to excess semiconductor inventory. If shipments are not being made, the need for protective packaging is reduced. If layoffs are occurring in assembly plants, there is less demand for wrist straps and static-control footwear.”

One light that continues to brighten the landscape for the ESD industry is ANSI/ESD S20.20, Protection of Electrical and Electronic Parts, Assemblies and Equipment. The standard provides guidelines in setting up and maintaining an ESD control program.

According to Steve Halperin, president of Prostat, “S20.20 is the single most important document to be produced for and by the industry in the past 20 years. International industry and military agencies have begun to adopt S20.20, and all indications point to requiring their suppliers to do the same.”

With S20.20 gaining new adopters in the months ahead, ESD-control products and test-equipment sales should pick up accordingly, although not by leaps and bounds. As predicted by Mr. Swenson, “Hardware and capital investment items are expected to return more slowly than ESD packaging.”

The ESD industry has not been resting on its laurels, as evidenced by the number of products introduced over the past months. Our 16th annual ESD Product Showcase profiles a number of these products including mats, boxes, survey kits, ionizers, flooring, monitors, and jackets.

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Published by EE-Evaluation Engineering
All contents © 2002 Nelson Publishing Inc.
No reprint, distribution, or reuse in any medium is permitted
without the express written consent of the publisher.

May 2002

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