FOD Control Corporation’s FOD Busting Technology

The story of the FOD Control Corporation is a tale of how 30 years of innovation in everything FOD—knowledge and awareness, innovative technologies, professional organizations devoted to FOD R&D—when coupled with creative innovation in the computer software development and e-commerce industries, combine to create some of the more interesting FOD busting technologies on the market. The story begins with Gary Chaplin, the founder of FOD Control Corporation and pioneer in FOD awareness programs and literature, and continues on through the ownership and work of Garth Hughes, innovator in web development programs and e-commerce business establishments, who took over the company in 2012.

What is FOD?
The acronym FOD stands for Foreign Object Debris and Foreign Object Damage. It is a crucial safety concept in aviation, manufacturing, or any other environment where loose objects have the potential to cause damage or injury. FODebris is “any object, particle, substance, debris or agent…that could jeopardize the integrity and functioning” of large-scale technologies like those found in the aerospace and manufacturing industries. The kinds of FOD that exists comprises an almost limitless list of any object that could: cause harm to intake jet engines, cockpits, airplane fuselages, skins, hulls, and airframe, damage delicate components when trapped inside equipment housing, freeze control mechanisms when lodged next to levers and handles, or puncture tires and harm landing gear during take-off and landing. FODebris could be anything from small parts—bolts, rivets, screws, etc.—that fall of airliners during takeoff and landing, to tools mistakenly left on safety-critical surfaces such as runways and taxiways, to building materials, broken asphalt and pavement surfaces, to garbage like soda cans and food wrappers, to wiring, dust, ash and sand, to coins…the list goes on.
FODamage can pose serious injurious threats to airport and airline employees, passengers, factory workers and others. FODamage can even be deadly, as witnessed in the tragic case of Air France flight 4590, when one of its Concorde SST jet airliners crashed shortly after take-off outside of Paris, France in July of 2000, killing everyone on board, in addition to four people on the ground that were close to the crash site. The official accident investigation report attributed the major cause of the doomed flight to be a small metal strip (FOD) that fell off of a Continental Airlines DC-10 taking off from the same runway as the Concorde, just five minutes previously. While hard numbers are difficult to come by, it has been estimated that FOD costs the civilian aviation sector “between $4 billion and $13 billion annually in damaged equipment, flight delays, reduced efficiency, litigation and other costs.”

FOD Becomes Firmly Entrenched in the Power Sweeping Vocabulary
Chaplin and his professional colleagues were the first to “write the book” on FOD, entitled, Make it FOD Free! The Ultimate FOD Prevention Program Manual, which still remains for many the source for FOD-related knowledge, awareness, and prevention. Make it FOD Free!, published in 2004, is “the ultimate guide to creating, implementing and ongoing operation of effective FOD programs for airports, airlines, military, manufacturers and fixed base operators.” The publication of the book was the culmination of 20-plus years of collaborative research between 13 pioneering aviation and FOD program experts. The U.S. Armed Forces has always invested time, energy, and money in FOD awareness and prevention and, following suit, the civilian airline industry has made FOD a top priority.

While Chaplin and his colleagues were designing and developing FOD awareness and prevention programs and innovative FODebris-busting technologies, Garth Hughes was busy pursuing studies in Computer Software and Information Technology R&D, first getting his B.S. from the University of Toronto in Computer Science in 1999, and then gaining an MBA in International Business from the University of Texas in 2003. Hughes spent a very productive 14-year career at Mary Kay Cosmetics, establishing and developing almost all aspects of the cosmetics company’s e-business strategies, activities, software programs, and operating platforms. In 2012 Hughes became the owner of FOD Control Corporation, overseeing the design, development, and implementation of “a technical strategy that has transformed a traditional wholesale operation into a predominantly internet based retailer/knowledge leader,” says Hughes.

FOD-Busting Technologies
The tried-and-true “FOD-walk” has been the military’s mainstay of FODebris detection and removal. This method consists of maintenance crews, on airfields as well as air-craft carriers, slowly walking shoulder-to-shoulder and manually removing any FODebris they would find. Still primarily used on aircraft carrier decks due to the incapability of successfully maneuvering hand pushed vacuum machines or sweeper trucks across the constantly-shifting movement of a carrier out-at-sea, the method is not fool-proof by any means and having personnel walk the runway takes a great deal of time and can stall operations. Chaplin and team’s first innovation in FODebris removal was the introduction of FOD Corporation’s Power Bar® magnetic sweeper. These vehicle-mounted towable magnets are specifically designed for picking up ferrous metal debris wherever it is located. When done, the operator simply brushes off the collected metal into a secure container.
Long known as an innovator in FODebris detection and removal, the FOD Control Corporation was the first company to develop an alternative to large sweeper-truck, truck-mounted vacuum systems, or cumbersome hand-pushed sweeper machines by developing a unique line of tow-behind sweepers they call FODBUSTER®. These traction-driven sweeping systems quietly and effectively capture and remove all FOD from any FOD-sensitive operating environment. The technology provides a light bristle-to-ground contact, “all that is needed”, says Hughes, “for our superior nylon brushes to do the trick.” The machines come equipped with a threaded stainless steel rod, attached to a single hand crank, which makes it easy to adjust the brush height. “Our mission” states Hughes, “is to support our customers’ FOD programs, maintain compliance with their FOD-related safety requirements, and contribute to their quality and safety assurance efforts.”
“Our FODBUSTER® sweeper systems are compact and efficient, and are available in four different configurations to meet all different needs and requirements,” notes Hughes. The FBR-4 covers a 4’0” / 122 cm wide sweeping path; the FBR-8 a 8’0” / 244 cm wide sweeping path; the FBR-11 “Standard Tri-Link Assembly” covers a full 11’5” / 348 cm wide sweeping path; and finally the FBR-22 “Super Tri-Link Assembly” covers the widest sweeping path, a full 22’0” / 670 cm wide area. Our FODBUSTER™ sweeper line, says Hughes, “is easy-to-use, inexpensive to maintain and simple to empty. It has evolved over the last 25 years with ongoing feedback and input from the U.S. military, one of our largest customers, as well as other clients.”
The FODBUSTER® toe-behind sweepers have several features that make them unique, claims Hughes because “first of all, their innovative design eliminates all onboard motors, hydraulics, vacuum attachments or need for fuel.” “All of our models are equipped with ball hitches for easy attachment,” Hughes continues, “and the design provides 21 inches of adjustment, allowing the FODBUSTER® to be towed behind almost any kind of vehicle, including high-clearance vehicles.” They are all also equipped with an adjustable wheeled-support jack and foot brake. According to Hughes, “the fact that they have eliminated complicated and expensive mechanical parts, and require no fuel or source of electricity, makes our designs a cost-effective alternative to expensive trucks and other equipment.” “They require practically no maintenance and less man-hours to operate, even their durable, long-life nylon brushes save time and money because there are no metallic bristles to break off, repair or replace.” They are also highly reliable because while other kinds of sweepers can break down, leaving crews left waiting for parts, repair or complete replacement, the FODBUSTER® keeps on working. Choosing to use their Standard Tri-Link or new Super Tri-Link Assemblies cuts the costs and operating hours even more because they cover such a wide surface area while they are sweeping. Hughes points out that “FOD removal costs drop dramatically by simply hooking-up one of our efficient, traction-driven FODBUSTERS® to any flight line vehicle, turning it into a powerful sweeping machine.”
The FODBUSTER® consolidates the debris and when full empties into service hoppers conveniently located for unloading FOD safely and easily. “Simply slide out, empty the debris, and slide back in,” says Hughes plus, unlike shaking out a friction mat, “you won’t get a face full of grit when the wind is blowing!” The FOD Control Corporation also has a full line of runway durable and safe hoppers, each holding approximately 40-50 lbs / 18-23 kg. The FOD and Fuel Caddy (FFC-1) is made of high-quality aluminum and covered with a UV-resistant yellow powder coating. The FFC-1 is aerodynamically designed to deflect powerful air movement created by jumbo-jets, especially as compared to make-shift barrels or rectangular boxes that are often used.
The FODBUSTER® technology’s detachable tow bar assures quick and easy deployment via air or truck if needed. “With the tow bar detached and strapped to the unit, the sweeper machines can even be shipped or stored in a vertical position, reducing space requirements.” Their magnetic sweeper option permits you to attach one of the company’s optional POWER BAR® Magnetic Sweepers, “which are great for removing large and small ferrous metal debris that may be hiding below the surface in aircraft tie-downs, grounding points or concrete expansion joints” says Hughes.

The Economy of FODBUSTER® Technology
For Garth Hughes, using the FODBUSTER® sweeper models makes “economic sense” by successfully taking “thinking long term” into account, including value for dollars saved with “our guarantee that our FODBUSTERS® equipment will provide your company or organization with a decade or more of service.” Hughes tells us that “our new technology works to capture a high percentage of debris at an operating speed that covers the airfield quicker than most, including picking up larger objects like broken pavement chunks, aircraft maintenance debris, and all sorts of ramp-service litter.” Long term thinking also applies to savings that would be spent on the total cost of equipment, operations and maintenance, over a decade, for each different type of equipment that would normally be needed. And, Hughes is proud to say that “our equipment is manufactured right here in the USA.” In fact, Hughes emphasizes that “if at any time in the first thirty days after receiving the FODBUSTER®, our purchasers are not completely satisfied with the operating performance of the product, they may return it for a full refund.”

Walk-Behind FODBUSTER® Technology
In addition to their line of FODBUSTER® toe-behind sweepers the company also has a line of heavy-duty walk-behind vacuums, including their RV-30 RampVac® “Fodzilla” and CS-30 CrackSweep® models, which can be used in areas where the tow-behinds can’t reach. The CS-30 CrackSweep® is designed specifically for aviation environments and built so that its vacuum power can penetrate grounding points, tie downs, expansion cracks and holes. The RV-30 RampVac™ is designed to handle sweeping in hard-to-reach areas, such as hidden corners, spaces between equipment, buildings or fences. Finally, “be on the lookout for our latest innovative FOD-busting technology, ready to hit the market soon” Hughes wants us to know.
For more information on the FOD Control Corporation, visit their website at: