Addressing Foreign Object Damage in Manufacturing

Foreign Object Damage (FOD) is a major concern in the aviation, space, and defense industry, as well as other manufacturing industries. While there is a large amount of information and guidance available about the prevention of FOD, no requirements standard exists.

Standardizing industry requirements

To standardize FOD Prevention Program requirements which can be flowed down in contractual agreements, the aviation, space and defense industry established the International Aerospace Quality Group (IAQG) to benchmark industry best practices and guidance.

The FOD Prevention Program developed by IAQG standardizes requirements to the greatest extent possible and can be used at all levels of the supply chain to mitigate FOD risk to aviation, space, and defense products and services — as well as other manufacturers.

The IAQG program is now being taught by Protomatic, a precision CNC machining shop based in Dexter, MI.

Some Definitions

Foreign Object (FO): An alien substance or article (e.g., tools, consumables, hardware, product protective devices, personal items, product process debris, operations debris and environmental debris) that could potentially enter and/or migrate into/on the product or system becoming FOd and potentially cause FOD, if not removed and controlled.

Foreign Object Debris (FOd) Any FO that has entered and/or migrated into/on the product or system, and could potentially cause FOD, if not removed and controlled.

Foreign Object Damage (FOD) Any damage attributed to FOd that can be expressed in physical or economic terms, which could potentially degrade the product or system’s required safety and/or performance characteristics.

Area Designation 

FOD Prevention Area Designation signs communicate awareness and promote compliance. The three designations include FOD Awareness, FOD Control and FOD Critical. Each designation has its own color and requirements.

FOD Awareness – BLUE (Lowest Level)

The principle awareness area is manufacturing. Employees must minimize FOD exposure and follow guidelines.

  • Practice Clean-As-You-Go
  • Practice good housekeeping standards
  • Standard tool accountability recommended
  • Secure Jewelry and Badges
  • Use Protective Dunnage for Parts (cover if possible)

FOD Controlled – YELLOW (Medium Level)

These areas are at medium risk level for FOD incidents. The principle areas include: tumbling, spinner tumbling, washing, in-process inspection, final Inspection, and packaging. In FOD – Controlled areas, there is a medium potential for entrapment or migration of FOD into hardware. Exposure to FOD can degrade form fit or function of components, systems or assemblies. Expectations are that employees follow these guidelines.

  • Operation shall inspect 100% of part for FOD
  • Use Protective Dunnage for Parts (cover if possible)

FOD Critical Area – RED (Highest Level of Inspection)

In critical areas, there is a high-risk level for FOD Incidents. Principle process areas include: assembly manufacturing, traveler/control plan, final inspection, in-process inspection, and air flow benches (inspection). Work in an FOD Critical Area must comply with requirements.

  • Special designated area (ad hock)
  • Operation shall inspect 100% of parts or assembly for FOD
  • Practice Clean-As-You–Go
  • Practice superior housekeeping standards
  • Strict tool accountability enforced
  • No personal items – ensure eyewear, ear protection and badges are secure
  • No food or beverages allowed

Protomatic has already offered training to the Society of Manufacturing Engineers about ways to mitigate Foreign Object Damage (FOD).

By practicing effective FOD prevention, potential problem areas will be identified. This results in negative factors being corrected. An FOD Prevention program will supply effective employee training providing awareness, continuous improvement and the capability for self-assessment.

In the case of Protomatic, this plays a major part in our commitment Life-Saving Precision, and brings higher quality parts and components to our customers.

About the author: Doug Wetzel is Vice President and General Manager of Protomatic. Protomatic is a CNC precision machining shop specializing in prototype and short-run production components for the medical, aerospace and other technical industries. Because of the critical nature of the parts they design and manufacture, the emphasis is always on Life-Saving Precision.