FOD Programs in Military and Aerospace PCBAs


FOD Programs

Circuit boards are critical in the operation of planes, weapons, sensors, and other critical equipment. A faulty circuit board could lead to malfunction, failure, and even death. This is why it is important to have a FOD (foreign object debris) Program in place to eliminate this possibility.

FOD could trigger a slew of events including litigation and criminal prosecutions for entire teams as well as recall of suspect equipment.

What is FOD?

FOD is an important for safety and quality control in any area where small debris, loose objects, birds and other wildlife, and even people have the potential to cause damage to equipment or injury to individuals.

FOD can refer to both the foreign objects themselves and any damage attributed because of them. It is a particularly important concept in environments such as aviation and manufacturing.

Foreign object debris is any material that is not supposed to be in the assembly or system that could cause damage or error. These items could be anything from tools, parts and loose hardware to animals and trash.

Aviation in particular, debris could cause severe hazards for aircraft, equipment and cargo, as well as personnel. In a manufacturing environment, debris could reduce quality control standards and interfere with the final product approval.

FOD is then any instance including destruction attributed to a foreign object that could result in compromised safety, functionality or performance of a product. For instance, a piece of FOD could damage delicate components, freeze control mechanisms or blow out tires at high speeds.

Reputational damage

While the more well known FOD instances are from debris affecting the final assemblies, PCBs and smaller components can also create a chain reaction. FOD can in fact wreak havoc on a smaller scale.

If we liken it to at home equipment. Fridge circuit board has loose wire fall on it and shorts the system, a washing machine motor burns out as a result of a wire cutting left inside, and other things have the potential of ruining equipment.

In the electronics industry, reputations are on the line, too. Trust can disappear when repeated intermittent failures are not thoroughly investigated and corrected or where organization and cleanliness is ignored.

Along with electrostatic discharge (ESD) and cleanliness disciplines, appropriate FOD controls will assist in maintaining product quality and reputation.

Maintaining standards

The question is then how to avoid these issues. Vinatronic keeps a simple but effective processes in place to mitigate these risks.

  1. Employees keep hands clean or wear gloves while working on PCBs.
  2. Work Areas are to be cleaned at the end of each shift and intermittently as need arises.
  3. Food and Drink not allowed in work spaces.
  4. ESD program to be maintained.
  5. Design documentation to be kept clean.

The combination of these items results in quality PCBs free from FOD. Our customers can trust that their products will be treated with the utmost care and as a result pass inspection and test. Vinatronic has been working with the military and aerospace industry for over 30 years. This has engrained a level of quality and trust for our customers.

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