How Do You Compare ANSI/ESD S20.20 and MIL-STD-1686?

Manufacturers and users of ESD sensitive devices and products, manufacturers and distributors of ESD control products, and third‑party testers of ESD control products rely on ESD Standards. Standards provide ways to meet the complex challenges of mitigating ESD loses. Thus, organizations and individuals affected by standards rely on standards development.

Confusion is created when there is more than one standard to define requirements. For ESD control, this has been the case with a military standard (MIL‑STD‑1686) and ANSI/ESD S20.20.

ANSI/ESD S20.20 Standard for the Development of an ESD Control Program, is a commercial standard that has been developed by EOS/ESD Association, Inc. and adopted by the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

MIL‑STD‑1686 Electrostatic Discharge Control Program for Protection of Electrical and Electronic Parts, Assemblies and Equipment has been developed by the military and is currently under the control of the Navy. The original release was in 1980 and was one of the first standards to define ESD control requirements.

On June 4, 2015 the Department of Defense (DoD) adopted S20.20 for use as an alternative to MIL‑STD‑1686 but both standards still exist.
EOS/ESD Association, Inc. has worked with a liaison to MIL‑STD‑1686 to identify the differences between the two standards.

As result of the joint work, the table below has been created to highlight the differences in the two standards. The goal of this effort is to ensure that the technical requirements of the two documents can be harmonized in the future.

Comparison of MIL-STD-1686C to ANSI/ESD S20.20 – 2014

MIL-STD-1686C Section ANSI/ESD S20.20 – 2014 Section
Forward: General information about areas covered. Exclusion of explosive atmospheres. A claim is made the ESD control can be for all devices from >0 volts to 15,999 Human Body Model (HBM). There is no claim to Charge Device Model (CDM). Information on sources of static electricity are mentioned. Forward: General information about area covered, same as 1686. Claim to handle devices greater than 100 v Human Body Model and 200 v Charge Device Model. Includes requirements for isolated conductors. Includes information about ESD protective packaging. Information on sources of static electricity are mentioned. Information of obtaining a third-party certification included.
1.1 Purpose: States that this standard will establish a comprehensive ESD control program. There is a requirement for tailoring this document. 1.0 Purpose: States that this standard will establish a comprehensive ESD control program. Tailoring is not mentioned at this point but allowed in a following section.
1.2 Scope: States that this standard applies to all aspects of ESD control. Provides quality assurance requirements, audits and reviews. 2.0 Scope: States that this standard applies to all aspects of ESD controls. Adds limits of 100 v HBM, 200 v CDM and 35 volts on isolated conductors as limits. Does not claim to provide quality assurance requirements.
1.3 Application: Applies to all government activities. Does not have an application statement.
2.0 Applicable Documents: There are many references that will need to be updated. Many do not apply. 3.0 Referenced Publications: References are up to date and all are part of the ESD Association.
3. Definitions: According to MIL-HDBK-263 4.0 Definitions: According to ADV 1.0, ESD Glossary of Terms
Not addressed 5.0 Personnel Safety: Has a boilerplate personnel safety statement.
4.1 General Requirements: Contractors are required to establish and ESD control program and they must apply to suppliers, vendors and subcontractor. 6.1 ESD Control Program Requirements: The ESD program must be established and the requirements are listed in the following sections. This includes all administrative and technical requirements including training, product qualification, compliance verification, grounding/bonding, personnel grounding, EPA requirements (insulators and isolated) conductors, packaging, and marking considerations. The program will document the lowest sensitivity level that the program can safely handle. There is no requirement to push it down to suppliers, or vendors.
Not addressed 6.2 ESD Control Program: The company (user) will assign someone responsible for this program.
4.1.1 Tailoring of this standard: The user of this document must follow the flow for tailoring. All requirements are considered for tailoring.
No documentation required as to why requirement is not being followed.
6.3 Tailoring: All requirements in this standard must be implemented unless there is a technical justification for modification. Does not require any approvals.
5.1 ESD control program plan: The ESD control plan needs to address each element in the tailoring flow chart. 7.1 ESD Control Program Plan: The ESD control program must address all the elements listed. Each section needs to be addressed with specific requirements.
5.1.1 Subcontractor control: This requires all suppliers, vendors to implement controls of the primary contractor. There is no similar requirement in 20.20.
5.2 Classification of ESDS part, assemblies and equipment: Every part, subassembly and assembly must be classified according to this standard. 6.1 ESD Control Program Requirements: The ESD control program must document the lowest level of ESD sensitivity that can be handled.
Not addressed 6.2 ESD Control Program Manager: Shall be identified
Not addressed 7.3 Product Qualification Plan: S20.20 requires product qualification of all ESD control items. 1686 has no requirements for product qualification.
Not addressed 8.1 Grounding/Equipotential Bonding Systems:
Not addressed 8.2 Personnel Grounding:
5.3 Protected Areas: ESDS parts without coverings (ESD safe packaging) must be done in ESD protective areas. This section does allow handling of devices outside the protective area. 8.3 ESD Protected Areas: Handling of ESDS items with ESD packaging shall be performed in an EPA. Handling of ESDS items outside an EPA would require a tailoring statement. Access must be controlled.
5.4 Handling procedures: This section says that procedures for handling must be developed 8.3 ESD Protected Areas: Handling procedures are required. There are clear requirements on grounding, personal and ESD control items that must be selected.
Table 3. List of optional controls
Not addressed 8.3.1 Insulators:
Not addressed 8.3.2 Isolated Conductors:
5.5 Protective covering: ESD protective packaging for ESDS items. Guidance from MIL-HDBK-263 8.4 Packaging: ESD protective packaging both inside and outside EPA must be done by contract or ANSI/S541.
5.6 Training 7.2 Training Plan: Training requirements are more defined.
5.7 Marking: Marking is required. 8.5 Marking: Mark per customer contract or ESD Control Plan.
5.8 Packaging:
Referenced document MIL-STD-2073–1E_CHG-3 references ANSI/ESD S20.20.
8.4 Packaging: References completely separate full standard on packaging.
5.9 Quality assurance reviews and audits:
Not a requirement, only a consideration.
7.4 Compliance Verification Plan: This requires periodic verification of all ESD control items. The methods are included in ESD TR53. It is considered part of the ESD control program and is not an audit by current definitions.
5.10 Failure analysis: Not specifically defined
6.0 Notes Not defined


Black – Information common to both

Green – Difference in MIL-STD-1686C and ANSI/ESD S20.20

Blue – Additional information or requirements in ANSI/ESD S20.20

One Response

  1. Jason Snavely

    I am an active duty member the the United States Marine Corps and I wanted to express general thanks and appreciation for this website. Due to my experience in my particular unit, I’m afraid that proper ESD practices are not generally taught or explained, but perhaps not understood properly. This is something that I would personally like a hand in changing, and this website provides great information on the subject. Keep up the fantastic work!


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