"We're seeing that our equipment is cleaner, our ramp and gates are cleaner and our employees have a better understanding of what FOD is and its impact. They're now looking for it and they bring me all sorts of little gifts saying 'Hey, look at this — put this in class.' We use these items as part of our demonstrators in training."
Sniegowski says that as no gate is any one company's — they're all multi-use gates, that FOD can come off of anyone's equipment. Common FOD is cargo roller floor balls (one in photo above is probably aircraft-based), but GlobeGround's group also sees them slightly bigger that are warehouse floor-based. Roller beds off of semi-trucks use about these same sized, one-inch bearings.
"For our employees, it's really the safety factor," he says. "When I explain that a small piece of metal destroyed a tire on a 747 and the cost of that was somewhere around $16,000, it clicks very quickly with them, how long it takes them to make $16,000. So we've really tried to personalize it. Again, part of what drives it home is not just focusing on the destructive nature FOD has on aircraft, but on their own safety potential. A cargo roller ball coming out of the jet blast of a 747 can kill someone."
GlobeGround's ramp crew performing the gate setup will do a FOD walk no more than 10 minutes and no less than 5 minutes before flight arrival. There is also a post-flight and pre-push FOD walk. Sniegowski offers that there is so much traffic on the field that anything can happen to a gate between the time the aircraft blocks in to the time of pushback. The ramp crew is FOD proactive throughout the time the aircraft is there to keep a heads up for FOD and for anything that might be blowing across the ramp. Airports, in general, are vast open areas that have a lot of wind generated by aircraft and large amounts of refuse generated by personnel and equipment. Add to this the fact that Chicago, Illinois is known as the "Windy City" and potential for wind-blown FOD becomes a bigger threat to airport traffic.
The Golden Bolt
GlobeGround at O'Hare has implemented a FOD Awareness program known as the "Golden Bolt."
"We've had a lot of fun with it and it is proving to be fairly successful in keeping the mindset in looking for FOD," claims Sniegowski. "We wanted something that was identifiable, but we also wanted something that couldn't easily become FOD by itself. We've put some procedures in place that this bolt now gets placed throughout our operation."
He adds, "We will always put it in a position where a supervisor from the training department, or myself, can observe where it is. We do not want this to become FOD and that's one of the concerns with this initially — you can't just throw this on the ramp. We always try to place it in a position at a gate before a flight so that their FOD walk gives them an opportunity to find it on a piece of equipment before beginning of operations and then we observe it to make sure it doesn't fall through the cracks. We don't want this to become a piece of FOD out there either."
He explains that his crew may place the golden bolt on a cargo ramp near some of the cargo racks. Anyone that finds the bolt brings it back to the Safety and Training department and is given a $50 gift certificate to a national retailer, with the caveat that any FOD in the area is to be picked up with the bolt.
Since April, the golden bolt has been put out on the field about two dozen times. "What we normally do is to tell them it's out there," says Sniegowski. "We've put it out on all three shifts. We've been very selective when we hear that one group may be having trouble and that their FOD walks are getting poor."