Workplace Organization

Machine ToolsFOD control in any manufacturing facility depends on a clean, well-organized work environment. Workers need designated areas for tools, storage and cleaning equipment. Planning for efficiency may involve removing unnecessary items, relocating benches, equipment, storage units and tool boxes to facilitate smooth workflow and logical sequencing. Shop floors should be painted a light color to allow easy identification of dirt/debris and also to facilitate cleaning. Designated spaces for cleaning equipment, trash containers, ladders, air hoses and toolboxes should be outlined and labeled on floors and walls. Believe it or not, some workers will claim that they didn’t clean up because they couldn’t find a broom. It is important to have everything returned to its place when the task is completed so that it can be found easily when needed. Signs that outline FOD controls for each work area should be prominently posted so no one questions the rules.  Visibility boards to display FOD metrics, bulletins and awareness media should be staged in each work center so that workers have information and feedback related to performance and goals.

Many manufacturing companies have adopted the Five S’s of Housekeeping as an aid for workplace organization. It is a concept that can be adapted to meet the needs and level of involvement desired. The following outline is one derivation that has been used successfully:

The Five S’s of Housekeeping

1. Sorting

The process of removing unnecessary items from the workplace.

  1. Inspect the work area for excess or unneeded items. Document items to be removed, reorganized or replaced.
  2. Photograph work area for “Before and After” visibility.
  3. Review the list and photos with all workers in the area to be reorganized. Get agreement from the majority on what is to be changed. Solicit ideas for improved workflow and order.
  4. Develop a new floor plan if necessary or desired.
  5. Tag items to be removed, repaired or replaced.
  6. Determine who will remove or dispose of items.
  7. Get agreement from management on the plan and forecast expenditures for improvements or purchases of new furniture, fixtures or tools.
  8. Implement the approved plan in phases to minimize work interference.
2. Standardizing

Identify uniform methods to maintain work areas

  1. Designate areas for cleaning equipment, ladders, tool boxes, hoses, parts and support equipment. Areas should have signs or painted spaces on floors or walls. Provide necessary shelving or cabinets.
  2. Establish accountability rules for tool-crib-issued items to include expendables (sandpaper, rags, razor blades, etc.)
  3. Assure consistent application of rules on all shifts. Incorporate housekeeping standards into training programs and workplace audits.
3. Simplifying

Provide specific, understandable directions, and procedures.

  1. Review/change existing procedures to assure workplace organization, cleanliness routines and tool accountability. Develop new procedures as necessary.
  2. Keep rules concise and displayed prominently.
  3. At crew meetings review areas needing improvement.
4. Sweeping

Establish routines/requirements to maintain cleanliness.

  1. Enforce “Clean-As-You-Go.”
  2. Determine end-of-shift cleaning responsibilities and post schedules.
  3. Establish cleanliness checklists for each work area (include workstands, benches, floors and toolboxes).
5. Self-Discipline

Identify individual responsibilities.

  1. Account for all tools and hardware at end of shift.
  2. Report missing items.
  3. Keep food and beverages out of work areas.
  4. Remove jewelry and personal items from clothing before going on/into assemblies.
  5. Return cleaning equipment, drop-lights, power cords and protective mats/pads to designated storage areas when tasks are completed.

The Customer

Broom and Protective CoverallsUltimately, the judge of your FOD Program will be the customer. Solicit feedback by requesting them to identify any foreign objects found in the delivered product and the exact location or zone. Provide a corrective action response to demonstrate that you are attentive to their needs; specify what has been implemented to eliminate the error from future deliveries. With all deliveries, include missing item reports for any items not found or retrieved during the entire manufacturing process.

Invite the customer to visit the factory on a regular basis. Communicate the importance of keeping FOD out of the product. Workers sometimes lose sight of the fact that the work they perform everyday has serious implications related to quality, safety and reliability. Reminders, especially from the customer, are usually well received and understood.

The “customer” concept works well to control FOD in-house before it gets to the final customer. Develop this by using promotional and awareness training sessions to build a “customer focused” culture within your manufacturing facility. Each work center or department should consider themselves the “customer” of the preceding department. As the component or assembly moves from one work center to another, it then receives a FOD check before leaving, and another acceptance FOD check at the receiving “customer” work center. Items found by the receiving unit’s inspection should be documented and reported to the sender for corrective action. The report should also be forwarded to the Manufacturing Manager and the FOD Program Manager who will monitor the timeliness and effectiveness of the corrective measures. Work centers that do not find FOD in their acceptance inspections are then responsible for any FOD found by their customer down the line. Work centers with the best customer deliveries should be recognized in some formal way monthly and group awards given to the best work center of the year. This approach to FOD Prevention not only controls FOD, it creates a competitive, team-focused environment of building quality products.


“Quality” is the buzzword that implies reliability, integrity, safety and customer satisfaction. Without an effective FOD Control Program in the  manufacturing arena, the product will not meet quality standards. Eventually sales will fall, contracts will be lost or not awarded and accidents/incidents become more likely. Achieving quality is not easy but every effort must be made to get there. As one company achieves higher quality, the challenge is greater for all others, and so the race continues to everyone’s benefit.

Don’t be left behind. Jump on the Zero FOD bandwagon and don’t accept anything less. Remember: FOD can’t be inspected out at the end of the line… processes must be in place throughout the entire build cycle to assure that it doesn’t get in.

Return to Controlling FOD In A Manufacturing Environment – Part 1

Want to learn more? Contact us for guidance on developing your FOD prevention program.