Original Date: 10/20/1997
Revision Date: 01/18/2007
Information : Foreign Object Elimination
Northrop Grumman implemented a Foreign Object Elimination (FOE) program to ensure that damage-free products are delivered to its internal and external customers. Foreign objects (e.g., rivets, debris, metal shavings) could be introduced inadvertently into airframes during the production and assembly processes. These foreign objects, trapped in sealed or open compartments, can reduce the reliability of the aircraft. Northrop Grumman has redesigned all appropriate assembly processes to completely eliminate foreign objects. In some cases, the parts, tools, checklists, and procedures were also modified to achieve this objective.
The FOE program also heightens the Foreign Object Damage (FOD) awareness for design considerations, assembly operations, prevention training, and shop floor communications. Control methods implemented at the company include modifying specific work instructions and sequencing; improving area housekeeping; and establishing production protection, tool accountability, and the control of lost items. At Northrop Grumman, the ownership of FOE compliance is everyone’s business. A key element to the FOE program’s success was the involvement of management in the weekly report and visibility meeting. The program also benefits the company through teaming with local city and county governments in monitoring its area housekeeping. FOE prevention specialists are equipped with borescopes to inspect inaccessible compartments. Northrop Grumman is actively involved in sharing its FOE techniques with National Aerospace FOD Prevention, Inc., an industry group that specializes in FOD prevention. As a non-profit, educational organization, National Aerospace FOD Prevention hosts annual conferences and workshops to promote FOD prevention.
Since the implementation of the FOE program, Northrop Grumman has established one of the safest and most consistently clean assembly operations in the aircraft industry. The company reduced its foreign object count from 0.27 average pieces per shipset over the last eight years to 0.15 average pieces per shipset over the last five years. Even better results are now being reported since the company has had no FOD incidents since 1995.
For more information see the
Point of Contact for this survey.