Article written by Terry Welsher, courtesy of InCompliance Magazine
What percentage of electronic failures are latent defects? What’s the cost to industry? According to the ESD Association “It is relatively easy with the proper equipment to confirm that a device has experienced catastrophic failure. Basic performance tests will substantiate device damage. However, latent defects are extremely difficult to prove or detect using current technology, especially after the device is assembled into a finished product.” So there is the view that, by definition, it is impossible to quantify the amount of latent damage. However, for most companies, the cost of customer returns and field service warranty expense greatly exceeds in-house scrap & re-work expense.
Per the ESD Association: “The age of electronics brought with it new problems associated with static electricity and electrostatic discharge. And, as electronic devices became faster and smaller, their sensitivity to ESD increased. Today, ESD impacts productivity and product reliability in virtually every aspect of today’s electronics environment. Industry experts have estimated average product losses due to static to range [up to] 33%. Others estimate the actual cost of ESD damage to the electronics industry as running into the billions of dollars annually.”
Some major companies report that 25% of all identified electronic part failure is due to ESD. As an ESD Control Program improves, a resulting decrease in unidentified field failures and ”no problem found” returns should occur. Reducing latent defect field failures is what allows companies to report return on investments of 10:1 from their ESD Control Programs.
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