What is ESD?

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the flow of electricity between objects that are at different voltage levels.

Most of us have had experiences with ESD – for example, getting shocked when you touch a doorknob after walking across carpet on a dry winter day.  Many electrical components (especially integrated circuits) are extremely sensitive to ESD.  ESD can permanently damage electronics.  EMS companies must have very good protective measures in place so as to minimize the potential of an ESD event.

Most know that the shock one feels when shocking a doorknob on a winter day is bad for electronics, but most do not know that some electrical components are so sensitive to ESD that it is possible to damage them without even feeling “shock”.

As electronic devices get more complex and as the average circuit density becomes more and more dense with each passing year, the risk of ESD damage rises.  Futaba has made changes over the years to help us greatly reduce our ESD damage risk.  Around 10 years ago we made the investment of tiling our entire production facility with conductive tile.

Failed ESD check?  Then can’t clock in.

When Futaba’s production workers clock-in to work, they must test their ESD foot straps.  The ESD strap tester that we use is connected to our production database.  To test their ESD foot strap, each production operator swipes their employee page through the tester’s card reader, followed by testing their straps.  Each operator’s ESD strap status is recorded into our production database.

When the operator goes out to the production line to work, they must log into their station.  If an operator’s ESD strap failed or skipped testing, our system will not allow them to logon.

Customer Education

Another point in Futaba’s ESD risk reduction strategy is customer education.  It is not good enough for us to manufacture functioning circuit boards only to have them get damaged at our customer’s site from ESD damage as the boards are unboxed and processed at the customer’s site.  So, as Futaba begins a relationship with a new customer, our QA department will work with the customer to make sure that they have a good ESD protection strategy.


With the increasing complexity and miniaturization of electronic components, the risk of component damage from ESD continues to rise.  One must minimize these risks by having a manufacturing site that has systems (both hardware and software) in place that reduces the risk of ESD damage and prevents someone from touching electronic components in they fail ESD protection checks.  Customers should also be educated on proper electronic device handling.