FOD can be a threat to aviation and manufacturing environments, so it’s necessary to choose the right FOD sweeper in order to remove it. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution to finding the right one, but the more you understand the challenges your facility is facing then the more you will know what you need to make the right decision.
Friction Mat: A friction mat sweeper is great for small surface FOD, which also includes joints and shallow grooves. It’s also helpful for remote locations. This sweeper uses a mat that is towed behind a vehicle and it will drag the debris underneath itself, where it is collected for later disposal. This type of FOD sweeper will often capture smaller debris more effectively than other types of sweepers. It is lightweight and portable and can be transported easily. There are no moving parts, so there is a low maintenance cost. It can be used during rainy weather conditions but can be unstable during wind. It also can’t remove large types of FOD, such as cans.
Mechanical Sweeper: This sweeper uses a spinning broom to sweep debris into a collection hopper. Some models will have additional side brooms to help direct the debris. It can reach joints and cracks, especially if the bristle height can be adjusted. It can also be used to sweep heavy materials. Since it’s an older technology, it is widely available. However, it can generate some dust while it sweeps. Occasionally bristles can break off and become additional FOD. There can be some maintenance issues because there are a lot of moving parts.
Vacuum Sweeper: A vacuum sweeper can be used best for uneven surfaces, even potholes, and works great in dusty environments. An air nozzle will suck FOD offer the pavement into a collection bin. Some units also have side brooms that can help direct the FOD so that the nozzle will pick it up. It will generate less dust than a mechanical sweeper and there are fewer moving parts, so there aren’t as many maintenance issues. The ability to collect large pieces of FOD will depend on how narrow the suction nozzle is. If it is a model with a side broom, be aware that these can move the debris into joints and cracks where the nozzle can’t pick it up.
Magnetic Sweepers: This specialty sweeper is used for areas where metal is a concern for FOD. There aren’t any moving parts for this sweeper, so there aren’t a lot of maintenance issues. However, this sweeper won’t collect non-metallic debris. It can be damaged if it is banged too hard against any obstacles, although some models do have a protective sleeve to prevent damages.