Ask the Experts
November 16, 2023 - Updated
May 29, 2013 - Originally Posted

PCBA Transport Between Facilities

We need to transport PCB assemblies between separate facilities for testing and added processing. The facilities are approx 10 miles apart so trucks are used for transport.

What type of boxes, carts, etc. do you suggest we use to keep packaging and unpackaging to a minimum, while ensuring we protect the assemblies during transit?


Expert Panel Responses

You don't mention the content, complexity or volumes which could all affect my suggestions, but in general a multi-pack 'pigeon hole' ESD corrugated container is the typical in process packaging.

Ideally, if possible your manufacturing process should consider integrating all PCBA assembly and test functions in one work cell.

James DiBurro
Round Rock Consulting
Following a successful 20 year career within world class OEMs and EMS providers including Honeywell, Bull Electronics, IBM, Celestica and Plexus, James founded Round Rock Consulting a business consultancy focused on supporting OEMs and EMS providers with product realization strategies.

The movement of PCB's from one facility to another presents a set of circumstances requiring specialhandling procedures.

I will assume that the transportation is NOT on a company vehicle for this response.

Method 1 - The PCB is best protected by placing it into a ESD shielding bag & closing it. The board can then be placed into a corrugated container, commonly referred to as an in- plant handler. These boxes have dividers that are arranged to accommodate the specific panel size & keep them separated from each other so as to prevent "physical" damage. Once the container is filled the lid should be properly attached as with any other package being shipped via a common carrier. Warning labels such as... "contains ESD sensitive Devices" should be attached to the container. Standard corrugated does not provide any ESD protection so shielding bags must be used.

Method 2 - Utilize a container similar to the description above but made of ESD compliant corrugated. The dividers should also be of the same grade material as the boxitself. Once loaded & closed with the lid you have created a Faraday Cage which will protect the PCB's. Seal the box as you would with any other commercial shipment.

Method 3 - Utilize a combination of the 2 methods & place the PCB's into a shielding bag &the ESD compliant container.

The use of carts to transports boards "over the road" is , in my opinion, not the way to go. Carts are subjected to road vibration & from previous experience I have seen more than one collapsed cart at the end of the road trip.

If you are using your own vehicles to move between facilities then you have gained a greater degree of control. In your own vehicles you have the option of not sealing the boxes as you would have to for commercial transportation...

There are several companies that manufacture these containers.

Disclaimer: I do not represent either of these companies.

Jerry Karp
JSK Associates
Based in. Northern California since 1971. Founded JSK Associates in 1979. Actively involved in soldering, cleaning, chemistries. 30 years experience in EOS/ESD control.

PCB assemblies shall be transport outside of an EPA only in Electrostatic Shielding packaging. All other packaging, electrostatic dissipative material (old: low charging) are not able for transportation of ESDS or PCBs with ESDS. The best way are black conductive boxes with lid or Electrostatic Shielding Bags.

Hartmut Berndt
B.E.STAT group
Mr. Burndt has been in Electronics & Semiconductor Technology since 1980 and work in the area of Electrostatic (ESD) and electronic devices. He is President of the B.E.STAT group (Germany); expert in ESD audits, trainings, failure analysis and ESD control programs.
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