Electronic Component Storage: Select the Right Storage Provider

By Logan Wamsley

Electronic components and semiconductors, along with drastically increased power and efficiency, are also becoming more sensitive. This can be a great concern for electronics manufacturers — especially as consumer demands increase and component manufacturers increase their prices. Not every facility is equipped to properly manage sensitive electronic component storage, and the consequences of not doing so can include not just product failure, but long-term reputational damage. In some cases, such as in the healthcare industry, the integrity of a manufacturer’s output can mean putting a life in jeopardy.

More than ever, manufacturers are looking to third-party solution providers such as Partstat to store inventory on their behalf until it is needed for product assembly. However, not every storage facility is alike, and not every one will meet the needs of the manufacturer in question.

Below are three considerations to keep in mind when selecting a storage partner to trust with your sensitive electronic inventory:

ESD Protection

Many electronic components are sturdy and come in secure casings that require little more than a climate-controlled environment to remain in optimal condition. Today, however, there are an increasing number of critical components and semiconductors that are highly susceptible to electrostatic discharge (ESD). A common CMOS chip for example can be damaged by static voltages as small as 250V (for reference, a standard static shock is 500V), while newer microprocessors and LSI chips cannot operate being exposed to anything over 5V. It is imperative that the storage provider chosen prioritizes ESD protection and can cite all of the procedures and equipment they use during handling and storage to address this risk.

Humidity Regulation

Moisture sensitivity is another variable that, if left unchecked, can significantly hinder a sensitive component’s ability to function. Storage providers must have a thorough knowledge of the different MSD (moisture-sensitive devices), as well as the industry-standard handling protocols necessary to comply with the needs of each level. This includes handling procedures, packaging procedures and materials, and pre- and post-baking requirements. Some materials will even require highly-specialized equipment that not every storage provider will have access to, such as desiccant dry cabinets necessary for raw die and wafer storage.

Electromagnetic Interference

There is not an electronic circuit in existence that is immune to electromagnetic interference (EMI). A form of environmental pollution, the effects of this phenomenon can be minor to incredibly severe; in extreme cases, EMI can even damage human tissue. Such interference can be human-generated, such as the nearby placement of a large-scale device or generator, or it can be naturally-caused, such as through a lightning bolt. Some degree of proper shielding is not just necessary within electronic devices, but also in the environment that houses such devices. For example, for devices that are particularly prone to disruption and failure as a result of EMI, Partstat offers customers the option to make use of the industry’s only custom storage vault designed specifically to eliminate this risk, along with any other known risk including fire, flood, hurricanes, and even earthquakes.

Electronic Component Storage Is a Team Effort

Choosing an electronic component storage provider can be a difficult decision, and one that must account for many different variables. It may be easy to simply select one that offers the lowest cost for the longest terms, but no low price is worth the loss of large inventory investments. Communicate with the product designers and engineers on your team to understand what must be prioritized in your storage solution, and make sure these priorities are known to your potential partner. In today’s environment, open lines of communication and transparency are more important than ever.