Tool Control

Feb. 1, 2001

Tool Control

The most preventable type of FOD

By Michelle Garetson

February 2001

Your Mother was probably the first one to teach you about Foreign Object Debris (FOD) and tool control through her "Pick up your toys" campaigns. Her message targeted organization as well as safety. Well, Mom was right. Organization and safety are two necessary ingredients for successful tool control and FOD prevention programs. The military was the first to really understand the importance of a thorough tool control program. Slowly and steadily, the civilian sector is accepting these programs as viable and important — primarily from a commerce standpoint — you can’t do business with the military if you don’t adhere to their instructions; but after reviewing the protocol for those tool programs, the merits of such an undertaking are realized.

Necessity is the Mother of Invention
Sears Industrial foam inserts came about as a result of doing business with the military.
"The military has bids that require foam inserts for aircraft maintenance and all kinds of maintenance," explains Joe Spry, Marketing Manager for Sears Industrial. "This is for a few reasons with FOD being the most important. When you have a squadron on alert, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, and they’re working around the clock with three shifts, you have to account for every single item that goes into or is taken out of an aircraft. In order to do that, in pre-foam insert days, they had to count and list items by stock number, piece by piece, when they checked in a new mechanic and checked out a new mechanic."
He continues, "Finally one day, someone came up with the idea of foam templates and they were made by hand. Later, these foam templates were requested in bids, through government processes, that they would be available for a particular set of tools."
Spry adds that another use for foam inserts is inventory management. It keeps track of the tool that’s being used. It also allows for specific instructions to be included in nomenclature and function manuals for maintenance, such as "Take the open-end wrench, size X, from the tool set, and adjust the bolt, etc." to aid the technician in step-by-step maintenance.
A tool detection system, the Aeroprobe™ from FOD Technology Group Inc. in Rohnert Park, CA, was invented by a former military aircraft technician who claims he "spent a week one night looking for a tool." As approximately 98 percent of routine hand tools have Ferro magnetic properties, the Aeroprobe uses a highly sensitive gradiometer designed to detect magnetically conditioned tools while ignoring most aircraft structures. This system is not meant for all areas of the aircraft as magnetic detection devices can cause other types of damage to sensitive aircraft components.

Developing tool control programs

Simply buying foam inserts or carpet remnants to line the drawers of a tool box does not constitute a tool control program. Careful consideration of what would best benefit the company in improving productivity, inventory management, as well as safety, needs to be done.
"For the airlines, instead of tool control becoming a FOD issue only, it becomes a combination of needing space in hangars, lean manufacturing or lean repair, as well as cost savings due to having to repurchase items because no one is watching them," says Joe Chwan, Director of Business Development and National Contracts for Snap-on Industrial.
The cry to implement a tool control program can come from any direction at any time; whether it comes from an initiative at the executive level, or a contract requires it, or those down on the floor need space or need organization.
"Everything is custom," says Chwan. "Snap-on works with the customer to design, implement, and review the program. We have a whole process for tool control that is similar to how you’d go about building a new production line. We have the customer take the time to analyze everything they need to fulfill that process."
He continues, "It’s either process-specific tool control for a task such as removal of the landing gear of an aircraft, where everything necessary for that procedure would be in a process tool control kit, or, it’s job-specific, where everything this person needs to perform their job is built into the tool control solution."
Chwan explains that there is a lot of work up front to design process-specific or job-specific tool boxes and work stations.
"Part of the whole process is a significant involvement in the training before the program even starts," he says. "The only way a company can mandate the management of the tools is if they own them — it’s the only way it works. You need to pre-sell this to the technicians, to management, even the unions, because these are issues. You’re telling a guy to take his tools home because he is now going to use this tool control program. Mindsets need to be changed to be in control of not only your tools, but your entire environment."
Chwan concludes, "One of the most important pieces to tool control, which is very hard for companies to get up to speed on is reviewing on an ongoing basis what they’ve got and what they’ve done. Part of the process that is engineered into the program is to have the customer review the program, maybe six months after implementation, and do almost what they did the first time, making sure they have all the right tools, eliminate unnecessary items, acquire needed items; as well as to review what’s new out there to help do the job and revise or at least confirm that what they have is what they need. And, this needs to be done consistently."
Organization and safety, for the technician, the employer, and the customer, are just two of the benefits from tool control. Take the proactive approach — know and understand the program you have in place. If one is lacking in your operations, don’t wait for an incident to begin researching tool control, find out what you can do now. Your Mother would be proud

The effect of Foreign Object Debris (FOD) on maintenance costs can be significant. For example, the cost to repair a FOD-damaged engine can easily exceed $1 million. FOD can also incur extensive indirect costs, including:
• Flight delays and cancellations, leading to a loss of customers.
• Schedule disruptions caused by the need to reposition airplanes and crews.
• Potential liability because of injury.
• Additional work for airline management and staff.

The cost of repairing FOD damage to an engine can easily exceed 20 percent of its original purchase price.
Purchase cost of MD-11 engine $8-10 million
Purchase cost of MD-80 engine $3-4 million
MD-11 engine overhaul to correct FOD damage $500,000-1.6 million
MD-80 engine overhaul to correct FOD damage $250,000-1.0 million
MD-11 fan blades (per set*) $25,000
MD-80 fan blades (per set*) $7,000
*Fan blades are balanced and replaced as a set.
Source: The Boeing Company and replaced as a set.
Source: The Boeing Companyxample, the cost to repair a FOD-damaged engine can easily exceed $1 million. FOD can also incur extensive indirect costs, including:
• Flight delays and cancellations, leading to a loss of customers.
• Schedule disruptions caused by the need to reposition airplanes and crews.
• Potential liability because of injury.
• Additional work for airline management and staff.

The cost of repairing FOD damage to an engine can easily exceed 20 percent of its original purchase price.
Purchase cost of MD-11 engine

Hand Tool and Tool Storage Listing
Please contact these companies for more information regarding products and services.

ACTA-Atlas Copco Tools and Assembly Systems, 37735 Enterprise Ct., Suite 300, Farmington Hills, MI 48331, (248) 489-1260; Offers a wide variety of products. Whether you need screwdrivers or nutrunners, pneumatic or electric tools, you will be covered by a world leader in ergonomics.

Applied Concepts Inc., 51 Pennwood Pl., #300, Warrendale, PA 15086 (724) 776-5595; Robo RCP8, RCP9, ACP8, and ACP9 pliers are the first and only connector plug pliers that automatically self-adjust for one handed operataion. Pliers feature laminated steel construction and ergonomically designed handles.

Brown Aviation Tool Supply Co., 3801 S. Meridian Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73119, (800) 587-3883 or (405) 688-6888,; Mail order supplier of aviation sheet metal working and cutting tools, large inventory of items including: air tools, rivet guns, threaded drills, countersinks, clecos, specialty hand tools, and much more. Exclusive worldwide distributor of the new "A&P Sidewinder" screw removal tool.

Contact East, Inc., 335 Willow St., North Andover, MA 01845, (800) 225-5370,; Provides the aviation marketplace with a wide selection of quality brand name hand tools and tool storage products including rollaway cabinets, tool chests, precision cutters/pliers, and more.

Drill Doctor® ( Pro Tool Mfg. LLC), PO Box 730, Ashland, OR 97520, (800) 597-6170,; Drill Doctor drill bit sharpeners (3 models) restore dull or broken bits to like-new condition in less than a minute. Standard twist drills and split point bits in both 118 degrees and 135 degrees — high-speed steel, TiN, cobalt, carbide, and even masonry bits.

FOD Technology Group Inc., PO Box 1057, Rohnert Park, CA 94927, (800) 648-0656,; Offers its Aeroprobe™ Tool Recovery System, an audible tool locator/extractor system. This patented new technology is designed to enhance a tool control program.

Fò, San Jose, CA 95136, (408) 972-2172,; The FòmLoc tool organization system is not just a simple foam rubber organizer. Choose from the categories of socket organizers, wrench organizers, and extension organizers.

JDV Products Inc., 22-01 Raphael St., Fair Lawn, NJ 07410, (201) 796-1720; Specializes in the design and sale of small electronic tools, bench tools, air nippers, and ceramic adjustment tools. Manufacturer of a broad line of wire wrapping tools and accessories.

Jensen Tools, 7815 S. 46th St., Phoenix, AZ 85044, (800) 426-1194; Distributor of tools and test equipment for the maintenance and repair of aircraft engines and related equipment, as well as a supplier of FOD Prevention/Tool Control Programs.

Kett Tool Co., 5055 Madison Rd., Cincinnati, OH 45227, (513) 271-0333; Offers portable power saws, shears, nibblers, kits, and accessories that are ideal for repairing, restoring, or building; and work effectively with metal or plastic.

Milbar Corp., 530 E. Washington St., Chagrin Falls, OH 44022, (440) 247-4600; Manufacturer of safety wire twister tools and kits, safety wire, electrical wire stripping and crimping tools, and retaining ring pliers.

Mountz Inc., 1080 N. 11th St., San Jose, CA 95112, (408) 292-2214, www.; Products include: electric screwdrivers, hand screwdrivers, screwfeeders, screw counters, torque wrenches, torque analyzers, sensors, transducers, compact nutrunners, multipliers.

Pan American Tool Corp., 5990 N.W. 31st Ave., Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33309, (800) 423-2764 or (954) 735-8665,; Offers precision cutting tools, aircraft drills, extension drills, cut-off wheels and reamers. New products include double margin drills, clecos, and drill stops, as well as a 7 accessory angle drill system.

SK Hand Tool Corp., 3535 W. 47th St., Chicago, IL 60632, (800) 822-5575; Manufacturers of professional hand tools, including impact sockets, ratchets, sockets, torque wrenches, pliers, screwdrivers, punchers and chisels. SK sockets feature a patented SureGrip® hex design, which drives the side of the hex, not the corner. SK tools feature a lifetime warranty.

Sears Industrial, PO Box 42538, Cincinnati, OH 45242, (800) 776-8666,; The leading supplier of Craftsman™ and more than 250 other industrial brands for aircraft maintenance, offers expanded lines of hand tools and tool storage, including the heavy-duty, long distance rolling cart for aviation. The 2000-2001 Industrial catalog, featuring more than 11,000 products is available free from the toll free number or via our web site.

SNAP-on Industrial, 2801 80th St., Kenosha, WI 53141, (800) 786-6600; Founded in 1920, Snap-on is a leading global developer, manufacturer, and marketer of tool and tool storage solutions for the aerospace industry. Products include a complete line of aircraft maintenance tools, including special, aircraft-specific products built by ATI tools, a Snap-on company. Snap-on is also a worldwide leader in tool control and FOD program solutions for the aerospace industry.

SPENRO, 1517 W. North Carrier, Ste. 120, Grand Prairie, TX 75050 (972) 988-6161; Specializes in Cherry™, ATI™, Sioux™ brand riveting, sheet metal, bucking bars, and pneumatic and hand tools for the aircraft maintenance industry.

Turbine Tool Corp., 6600-D, Burleson Rd., Austin, TX 78744, (512) 385-5311; Manufacturer of high quality aircraft turbine engine maintenance/repair tools and test equipment. Approved supplier of tools for Allison/Rolls-Royce, Pratt Whitney

Tool Support Services Corp. and Lycoming Turbine Engines.

U.S. Industrial Tool and Supply, 15101 Cleat, Plymouth, MI 48170, (800) 521-7394,; Manufacturer of air tools for aerospace, specializing in riveters, squeezers, pistol drills, angle drills, rivet guns and testing equipment.

Wiha Tools, 1348 Dundas Cr., Monticello, MN 55362, (800) 494-6104 or (763) 295-6591, www.wihatools .com; A leading manufacturer with over 1,800 high quality, ergonomic fastening tools. Torx™ program features 43 styles in sizes T3 to T60. Over 285 precision tools, sets, and accessories. Other screwdrivers include: SoftFinish cushion grip, 1,000-volt insulated screwdrivers, and MicroFinish non-slip grip. Wiha carries various tip styles that include: slotted, Phillips, Torx, Tamper Resistant Torx, TorxPlus, Hex inch/metric, Pozidriv, and Nut Drivers inch/metric.