Havre de Grace resident Randy Laye took the top honor as he and 91 other employees at American Cyanamid's Bloomingdale plant received awards at a Thursday banquet for saving the company almost $500,000.

The award winners, almost one of every three hourly workers at the Havre de Grace plant, submitted 176 cost-cutting recommendations the company used, 64 more than in 1989.

During the last two years, employees saved American Cyanamid a total of $1.3 million with cost-cutting suggestions, said Ben DiMauro, who heads the committee that runs the Employee Recognition Program

"We set a (cost-cutting) goal of $2.4 million, and $500,000 of it came off the floor," he said. When an idea is accepted for review or implementation, the worker re

ceives a $35 bonus. In addition, the company has passed along to the workers $25,000 of the savings in each ofthe last two years.

Employees are compensated on a sliding scale.For any idea that saves the company up to $1,000, the worker receives $50. Any idea that saves more than $8,000 earns the employee $500.

Savings from the program range through all departments -- from maintenance to accounting -- at the plant, which produces aerospace adhesives, structural aluminum honeycomb and engineered materials. The department manager first reviewed each suggestion; then it was investigated by a panel of plant chiefs and representatives of hourly workers.

Laye's principal suggestion saved $73,000, the most of any recommendation submitted. As a result, he was named Innovator of the Year.

Laye said his recommendation improved efficiency in machines in the adhesive department. "I actually turned it in late '89, but it tooksome time for engineering to complete installing the process,"

he said.

Laye, president since June of the plant's United Auto Workers union Local 1338, received about $750 in bonuses for his suggestions.

"I'm pleased," the 25-year plant veteran said. "The company givesus the opportunity to have input on our jobs. It's a good idea to have people who do the actual work come up with the suggestions becausethey know how things work."

Another winning suggestion saved the maintenance crews trouble when repairing clogged pipes. An employee persuaded the company to buy a portable, hand-held pipe-threader. Now, when a ceiling pipe is blocked, the crews make incisions and repair it on the spot; before, the entire section had to be cut out, taken to a shop, threaded there and then returned and remounted in the ceiling.

Several individual suggestions saved American Cyanamid morethan $10,000 each.

One idea altered the filtering process for 500-gallon lots of chemicals used to make adhesives.

For another, a worker designed and built a milling machine; the very model he constructed is used on the line today. The device tripled the number of aluminum blocks the plant produces, to 90 an hour, from 30.

Dave Jackson, a quality-control laboratory technician, estimates he saved the company $3,500 last year with his recommendations.

"Throughout the years, I've turned in several," he said. Last year, the company accepted a series of five of his recommendations. "It's very simple. It amounts to an increase in the product going out of the door or a reduction in the amount of waste. One was to reduce sample size. Three . . . were about reducing the sample size sent to the quality-control lab, either reducing or doing away with a sample completely. The other two were to change a test."

Jackson is working on next year's awards. "I've turned in a couple since January," he said.

The 10-year-old Employee Recognition Program itself was the subject of the push for efficiency last year. The incentives and procedures are being revamped this year in an effort to boost the number of ideas, according toDiMauro.

"The company identified several major problem areas, butstreamlining the process emerged as one of the most critical," he said. "As a result, the paper flow was overhauled to give speedier responses, and a computer tracking system was established."

DiMauro's committee also is seeking to raise the visibility of the program and improve the reward structure. All ideas, regardless of whether they result in cost savings, are eligible for rewards, and the range of rewards has been expanded.

The banquet event is aimed at rewarding workers, no matter the size of the savings. If an idea saves $5,000, the employee receives a blue jacket; $10,000, a white one; and $20,000,a red one. The person whose idea cuts costs the most wins the title Innovator of the Year and a special, silver jacket.

"The emphasis is now on creativity, innovation and continuous improvement," DiMaurosaid.

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