Microelectronics: Equipment Breakdown
© Getty Images/Javier Aguirre

Blog: Believe it or not, this is
an equipment breakdown

A strand of hair causing a microelectronics failure

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    Physical damage to microelectronics is way too small to be seen

    Every business depends on microscopic technology, which is becoming more complex every day. And it's not just computers: Boilers, air conditioners, furnaces, diagnostic equipment, CNC machines, retail point-of-sale systems; all of which are prone to microelectronic damage.

    A speck of dust straddling two electrical circuits on a computer chip

    Dust on a microchip
    When combined with humidity and other vapours in the air, this particle can cause arcing between components on circuit boards. And certain types of dust, when combined with humidity, can even be slightly corrosive to electrical components and cause them to break down.

    A fractured silicon wafer

    Fractured silicon wafer | Equipment breakdown

    This silicon wafer serves as a base for microelectronics built in and upon the wafer. The fractures or cracks can be seen in the left of the image.

    During manufacture, silicon wafer preparation and handling can result in damage in the form of micro-cracks at the edges of the wafers. 

    While the damage may initially be harmless, under some conditions, such as increased temperatures, the micro-crack may later increase dramatically, finally cutting the wafer into pieces, resulting in failure of the circuit, and causing the equipment to stop working.

    Technology is now the size of DNA

    Microelectronics: Equipment Breakdown

    Today, more than 100 million transistors could fit on the head of a pin(1). These transistors are so small, just 22 nanometers, that you could fit 4,000 of them across the width of a human hair.  

    A strand of human DNA is 2.5 nanometers in diameter.  We are dealing with technology that is only a little larger than DNA. 

    Whilst technology brings many benefits, ever more reliance on electronic components and software is increasing the risk to businesses of equipment breakdown: failures, sudden and unforeseen damage (SUD), and defects.

    How HSB can help

    Are your customers covered for the failure of computers or electronics controlling their machinery or equipment where there is no physical signs of damage? This is where a specialist insurer, like HSB, can help.

    HSB Machinery and Technology Combined

    A solution designed for businesses operating machinery and equipment. Our product  responds to changing equipment risks, exposures, and applicable health and safety legislation by providing comprehensive equipment breakdown insurance; with the option to include engineering inspection services within the policy.
    Image sources: © The Boiler Inspection and Insurance Company of Canada/Getty Images/Sunyixun 1) Intel Corporation - Fun Facts factsheet.