COMMITMENT TO PREVENTING FOREIGN OBJECT DEBRIS PAYS OFF

Air France Flight 4590, US Airways Flight 1549 and Space Shuttle Columbia all shared a devastating yet avoidable common denominator– foreign object debris. From blown tires, punctured fuel tanks, engine failure and wing damage, FOD can have catastrophic effects, including loss of life.

Just last year, the Air Force was forced to ground aircraft because of FOD left behind during the manufacturing process, preventing USAF pilots from conducting mission critical flight training. Unfortunately, FOD has been acknowledged by the FAA and U.S. Air Force as a chronic problem.

A transformational approach to zero FOD

Acknowledging FOD as an industry-wide weakness that demanded detailed attention, L3Harris made a commitment to implement a comprehensive FOD awareness and prevention program. What was once considered a weakness is now a point of pride.

L3Harris recruited industry expert, David Kennedy, Lead Quality Engineer, to create a world-class FOD prevention program. Together with Chris Riley, Senior Director of Operations, Kennedy led the organization to earn a perfect performance review score from Lockheed Martin’s Supply Quality Engineer, Jim Powers after a visit to the Malabar facility in March of 2019.

“I have performed many of these reviews at numerous suppliers and have never had a supplier earn 100%,” said Powers.

The cultural shift towards zero FOD was a holistic commitment made by the entire team with every factory area working the FOD control plan together.

“We had to start from the ground up. With hard work from everyone within a few weeks we started to see change, although it took us six months to a year to see a real culture change,” said Kennedy.

FOD plan in action

The “Clean-As-You-Go” mantra is step one of the FOD prevention plan, with tool accountability as the cornerstone. The team used the “6S” system approach as the foundation and pathway to FOD prevention, this includes sort, shine, straighten, standardize, sustain and safety. Accountability and control of tools at the start and end of every task ensures they won’t be left behind.

“FOD prevention is not just an inspection task, it’s a culture change,” said Kennedy.

FOD awareness and prevention will continue to remain a top priority for L3Harris. Kennedy acknowledges that there is still room for improvement, however it’s evident how far the program has come when the client expresses delight with the progress made.