Wanted: ISO 9000 auditors for ESD control program

Mark A. DeSorbo

ROME, NY — Many contamination control practitioners want more than ISO 9000 certification.

Although International Organization for Standardization (ISO; Geneva) certification is needed to be a contender in the contract bidding process, controlling electrostatic discharge (ESD) and implementing a program to protect electrical and electronic equipment from it are just as high of a priority.

In fact, the Electrostatic Discharge Association (Rome, NY) has been fielding calls from building contractors and companies wondering if there is an ESD control program. “Companies are calling us and asking how they can tell if an outsource they hired has an ESD program, and the contractors are calling up and asking for a certification program that they can supply to their customers,” says John Kinnear, ESD Association president.

The ESD Association and the American National Standards Institute (New York) have already approved the ANSI/ESD S20.20 standard, which was drafted in response to the Military Standardization Reform Act and intended to be the commercial replacement for Mil-Std-1686.

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Now, ANSI and the ESD Association are setting their sights on establishing the program that both companies and contractors have been asking for. And to do it, they want to ask ISO-certified auditors to provide the service, saying it raises awareness of the importance of an ESD-control program, and it saves time and money having one inspector perform two audits.

“The intention of certifying a company to an ESD standard came from traditional ISO 9000 certification of companies, where they look at every aspect of a facility,” says Ron Gibson, of Celestica International Inc. (Toronto) and S20.20 co-author, who chairs the ESD Association's standards committee. “The intention of the S20.20 document is that it would put a focus on a program and try to ensure that companies will look at the importance of an ESD control program, and it will [provide] a focus for a company's ESD program.”

ESD Association member Ryne Allen, an engineer for distributor ESD Systems.com, believes the potential savings is an incentive.

“Typically, while someone is auditing your facility, a separate ESD audit has to be conducted. What the ESD Association is really trying to do is tie [the ESD audit] in with the ISO audit,” says Allen, secretary of the Northeast Chapter of the ESD Association. “An ISO 9000 registrar, an independent auditor licensed by the ISO to conduct audits, will be trained to conduct the ANSI/ESD S20.20 audit. That will save companies money because they won't have to pay for two separate audits.”

Echoing Allen, Kinnear of the ESD Association, who is also an engineer for IBM Corp.'s Poughkeepsie, NY, branch, says it makes more sense for an ISO auditor to learn a new standard than it does for the association to teach the auditing process.

“The idea is to be able to offer a service,” he says, adding that the association plans to have one trained ISO registrar and launch the first on-site ESD program by September. “If a company has already opted for ISO 9000 certification, it can expect to save on another auditor's travel expenses as well as a couple of audit days.”

The S20.20 standard received approval in October from the ESD Association and in May from ANSI. The standard will be the topic of a presentation, “How to develop an electrostatic control program & ESD: Consideration in the cleanroom,” at CleanRooms East 2000 in Baltimore this month. Visit www.cleanrooms.com for information on attending the conference presentation. Copies of ANSI/ESD S20.20 can be obtained free from the ESD Association's Web site, www.esda.org.

“This document provides a base. If you have no idea what to do, the guidelines will show you what to do. But if you have a fair amount of knowledge, the document will allow you to customize your ESD control program,” says Kinnear, one of three presentation speakers.


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