Tool and FOD control are important elements of a safe helicopter maintenance environment. A tool left in a helicopter or FOD laying on the flight line or hangar floor can cause damage to the aircraft or personnel. Many maintenance facilities have tool and FOD control programs in place, and SMS requirements will make operations focus even more on the issue.
This month’s issue of HeliMx has two articles discussing products that can help manage tools and equipment in a maintenance shop. Although these products are definitely a way to take tool control to the next level, purchasing hi-tech equipment is not the key to implementing an effective tool and FOD control program.
Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that Snap-On’s Level 5 ATC and CribMaster’s Inventory Management System aren’t good products. They are. In fact, I wish we had had them when I was working as a mechanic. They would have made life a lot easier for us and the tool room attendants.
The bottom line is that in order to have an effective tool and FOD control program, you need to have buy in from everyone. A manager may decide to have the maintenance shop implement a tool and FOD control program, but unless mechanics see that everyone is on board, the program is doomed to fail. What good is having a written policy on FOD prevention when you see the director of maintenance walking across the hangar kicking a bolt laying on the floor and not even bothering to pick it up? Why bother making the employees shadow their tool boxes if they aren’t given the time or material to shadow them in the first place?
Here are just a few ideas to help launch (or maintain) a good tool and FOD control program.
First, the policy must be written. Word of mouth policy just won’t do. A shop supervisor telling the new mechanic, “Pick up FOD and make sure you don’t lose any tools,” is not going to accomplish much. If tool box shadowing is to be required, clarify what is expected. If marking tools is necessary for...