Maintaining a clean production facility has many safety and health advantages. But for manufacturing, it can have a significant impact on the reduction of production delays, product quality and even damage to a company’s reputation. A precision machining company that implements a foreign object debris (FOD) prevention program has a clear understanding of the positive impacts that a debris-free environment has for its employees, customers and bottom line.

What qualifies as a FOD threat in a precision machining facility? Practically everything and anything you’d find on the production floor, in the support staff offices or in a warehouse. Here’s a short list:

  • Everyday items: pens, pencils, paper clips, staples, tape, keys, scraps of paper, hair pins
  • Lunch and break time items: coffee cups, water bottles, soda cans, paper plates, plastic utensils, sandwich crusts, apple cores, candy wrappers, snack food packaging
  • Lost valuables: keys, cell phones, jewelry, watches, ID badges, cameras
  • Industrial waste: rags, shop/paper towels, grease, paint, cleaning solvents, lubricants, tacky residues from adhesives, chips

These items can fall into machinery, fall into containers of parts, create safety hazards on the production floor and cause product failures for your customers.

Pioneer Service is an ISO:9001 and AS9100D registered precision machine shop.  Part of our Quality Program includes a Foreign Object Debris Prevention Policy.  We maintain a “constant vigilance” program, that focuses on 5 key areas.

1) Clean as You Go

This applies to all surfaces and every space near the product we are making during all phases of manufacturing, testing, transportation and storage. It includes prompt removal of debris, clutter and dirt to minimize the threat. Every member of our team is trained to clean as they work.

2) Tool Accountability

Any tool, regardless of size or weight, can present a threat. Tools are organized in kits for each project and reviewed when they go in and out of our tool crib (inventory area). Each machine has a specified worktable where tools are kept while the jobs are set up and run.

The list of tools for a project includes the measurement gages needed to verify the part dimensions, such as micrometers, calipers, and pin gages. Every member of the production team is trained to be accountable for the tools they are using on a project so they don’t end up where they shouldn’t be.

3) Hardware Accountability

Like tools, small parts and loose hardware can pose a significant FOD risk in manufacturing environments. In a machine shop, this includes items like set screws and fasteners used in setting up the machine. These items can also be kitted so that the team members have the exact amount of hardware necessary for any given task — no more, no less. The kitting process works well for tool set up on the production, and for our light assembly operations, as well as maintenance tasks around the facility (such as plant floor lighting replacement or dock door replacement).

4) Report Missing, Lost, and Found Items

Every team member knows they are responsible for reporting lost or missing hardware, tools, or even personal belongings. Our focus is on proactively preventing damage and improving safety, not on punishing mistakes. The sooner the issue is reported, the less likely damage or injury can occur.

5) Management Audits and Reviews

Our management team is trained to do spot inspections and regular reviews. These checks on our process provide additional insight into problem areas and reinforce the importance of an ongoing effort to maintain the best environment for production areas that reduce injuries and produce exceptional quality.

Below are photos from a recent audit on our production floor where the head of Safety Team found several FOD issues that needed attention: (1) a pen has fallen under one of the work centers  (2) a set-up team member left some of their paperwork and tools at a machine after they had completed their work (3) and despite the fact that it’s been over 90 degrees on the plant floor the last couple of weeks, water bottles do not belong anywhere on the plant floor except on the operator’s work table.  In photos (4) (5) (6) you can see that these issues were easily resolved.

Pioneer Service Examples of FOD

FOD prevention is especially important to our Aerospace and Medical customers – and the cost can be extremely high if foreign objects are assembled in any of their products. However, Pioneer Service maintains those same stringent guidelines across the board for all our clients in order to uphold the highest level of quality, and to create the type of work environment that protects our employees in the best possible way.