Electrostatic discharge mats are an essential part of any electronics or computer work station, but your employees that rely on these mats daily may be overlooking the importance of maintenance. It only takes a fine sprinkling of dust or a bit of solder flux dropped during a circuit repair to interrupt the static discharging power of an ESD mat. Teach everyone in your team the right way to keep the ESD mats clean without causing any damage.
Use Proper Cleaning Fluids
The manufacturer of an ESD mat coats the surface with a special invisible layer that often feels slick or even soapy to the touch. This coating prevents the build up of static electricity as you work and conducts any charges that do arise so there's no danger of damaging the equipment. Using soap and water or a harsh cleaning agent strips away this coating, rendering the ESD mat malfunctioning or failing to work at all. Using products that are designated as safe for ESD equipment, preferably the type or brand recommended by the manufacturer, is the only way to maintain the function of the mat.
Remove Spills and Debris
For mats used on a daily basis, weekly cleaning is best. A monthly wipe down is likely fine for an ESD mat you only use occasionally, but employees should take responsibility to immediately clean up any spills or materials that fall on the mat. Leaving a sticky puddle of a drink or dust dumped by a dirty compute fan on the mat reduces it efficacy immediately. Quick cleaning every time the mat gets dirty makes it easier and faster to wipe down the rest of the surface during the routine weekly or monthly cleaning too.
Aside from liquids and fine powders that end up scattered across the surface of a mat, floor ESD surfaces often end up covered in any kind of dirt or grime carried along by the employees walking on them. These mats are essential for controlling static discharge when you're dealing with large equipment like appliances with sensitive component, but they're easy to get dirty as well. Encourage employees to use a small hand broom and dust pan set or a rechargeable hand vacuum to remove any dirt left behind after each use. Even table top mats can be swept this way with a hand broom to reduce how much wiping and sponging is necessary with ESD compatible cleaning products.
Test for Conductivity
Not sure if a weekly, monthly, or other schedule is right for the cleaning of your ESD mats? Rely on a few routine test cycles to determine the perfect timing for keeping the mats controlling electrical discharge as well as possible. The best testing equipment integrates into your mats, relying on a battery or a convenient power cord, to switch on a warning light or beeping alarm when the conductivity of the mat changes. If you can't afford to constantly monitor the mats for the need of cleaning, at least include some routine testing to see how long the mats are going between cleanings without showing any reduced protection. You don't want to find out a mat is failing by losing a customer's equipment to a discharge.
Finally, keep solvents of any kind away from the general ESD workstation area. Set aside a single workstation, separately from the rest, where solvents are applied to parts that are corroded or in need of heavy cleaning. Since strong solvents can permanently damage the surface of a mat and lead to the need to replace it, it's better to only need to replace a single mat rather than all of them after a spill. Naturally, solvent-based cleaners must also be avoided as well during maintenance of the mats.
Hi, my name is Lewis McKinley and this is a blog about the safety of industrial equipment and supplies. When working with industrial equipment, employees must implement all safety measures to ensure they stay safe at all times. When I was growing up, my dad was a safety inspector, so my siblings and I were always reminded about safety and he taught us how to stay safe no matter what we were doing. Since I learned about safety at a young age, I always make sure that safety is a priority in everything I do. I enjoy doing research about safety and I keep up with changes in safety regulations for many industries. I hope that after you read my blog, you'll learn measures that you can take to remain safe around industrial equipment and supplies.