IW Best Plants Profile - 1992

Air Products & Chemicals Incorporated's 1992 Best Plants operation in South Brunswick produces polymer emulsions via a state-of-the-art distributed process control system. The technology runs the process, from raw-material charging, batch sequencing, run steps, and process control to data acquisition.

A PC-based integrated production-quality and distribution-management system not only operates on the plant's local area network, but also allows data to be transmitted weekly to corporate headquarters in Allentown, Pennsylvania. There it is used by business, product development, and technology personnel.

Trust and accountability are so high here that operators work more hours unsupervised than they do with supervision. Although suggestions often come about spontaneously, quality and safety meetings are held on a monthly basis to encourage workers to share ideas for improvement.

The great irony of waste has not been lost on this workforce. As former plant manager Michael Berus notes, first "you lose the product," and then "you pay to get rid of it." That problem was solved by installing a recycling system in the loading areas designed to vacuum product back into the plant. The result is an annual savings of roughly $150,000 in raw material and effluent costs (the price the plant pays to deposit waste into the sewage system).

Berus views the role of the plant in the community very seriously. He is involved with Responsible Care, an initiative developed by members of the Chemical Manufacturers Association, and in October 1991 enlisted the support of other area plants to form an advisory panel of concerned citizens.

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