How to discuss and recommend the right static control flooring with a client

A guide for architects working within client environments and applications that require conductive flooring

I recently visited with an architect who asked me how to best discuss and guide a client interested in using static control carpet in their application and environment.

There are two main question areas to begin the client discussion and help determine the right static control flooring recommendation:

  1. What is the electronic industry supplier environment? Are they actively handling static sensitive electronic parts and sub-assemblies (as opposed to using them)?
  2. What is the end user environment? Is the organization reliant on electronic systems that may be affected by static discharge events?

Specifying for electronic industry supplier environments handling static sensitive electronic parts and sub-assemblies

Electronic industry supplier environment organizations make, handle, test, store and repair electronic parts. A static event in these types of spaces would damage or destroy the part, assembly or final system. Grounding is achieved by wearing conductive heel straps or special shoes in conjunction with a grounded static control floor. In other words, personnel need to be grounded in any operation in this environment.

Generally, organizations handling and producing static sensitive parts designate certain areas as “ESD safe areas” or static free zones; an ESD safe area requires vigilant compliance with personnel grounding procedures as well as numerous other protocols for preventing the generation and accumulation of static electricity. The processes in these environments are usually governed by international standards like ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007.

Best flooring solutions for electronic industry supplier environments

Staticworx works with the architect to help narrow down which flooring to specify for the client for this type of application:

  • EC ESD Rubber
  • ESD Carpet Tile
    (not the same as low kV or computer grade carpet)
  • ESD Vinyl Tile
    (Also called static conductive and static dissipative tile)
  • Conductive Epoxy Coatings

Specifying for electronic industry end user environments: operations reliant upon electronic systems

The term “reliant upon electronic systems” means that the operation does not involve active handling, testing or assembly of electronic sub assemblies. These operations are electronic systems end user environments requiring sophisticated electronic equipment to accomplish their mission.

These spaces are often called Mission Critical Environments: examples include data centers, R & D labs, 9-1-1 call centers, hospital ERs, MRI suites, communication centers, flight towers, control rooms. These spaces utilize operational electronic systems which are manned by personnel who will not use special footwear. A static problem in these spaces would lead to an event that would impact either the equipment, operational mission or both. Examples of these types of problems include: data corruption, system lock-up, dropped phone call, unintended signals in a system.

In these applications, the static control floor must be fault tolerant. (See my recent blog entry on fault tolerant design.) The flooring must prevent the generation of static without the added benefit of special footwear; conversely the anti static floor must prevent static despite the use of static generating footwear.

Walking Body Voltage

Best flooring solutions for electronic industry end user environments

Most static control flooring will not inhibit static without the use of special footwear. That said, there are two flooring materials that perform very well despite this obvious deficiency and that Staticworx recommends for electronic industry user environment applications:

  • EC ESD Rubber
    (with carbon chip conductors)
  • ESD Carpet Tile
    (with conductive fibers wrapped around nylon tuftsand conductive backing.
    Not the same as low kV or computer grade carpet)