Two District 1 employees in Warren County received special recognition for implementing a new system to limit the number of costly brine pump replacements needed at stockpiles during the winter months.
Warren-Forest County Manager Adam Elms and Warren County Equipment Operator Frank Byers were presented with an Innovation Award in December. The two worked together to create a new storage area for brine pumps and a mock brine pumping area for testing and troubleshooting.
"This is a great example of employee-initiated ideas leading to more efficient and effective operations," said Doug Schofield, District 1 Assistant District Executive – Maintenance. "In this case, Mr. Byers saw a way to improve his work and acted on it by developing a unique solution."
Elms said Byers, who in 2019 was serving as Warren-Forest's designated "brine maker," was tasked with repairing the pumps and completing preventative maintenance on the system.
Byers quickly realized he was able to work on the pumps but didn't have the ability to test them in-house and, therefore, diagnose specific problems. This often led to troubles arising in the field when the brine was typically being used to pre-wet materials during winter roadway maintenance. When the pumps failed, they were back to the main garage for repairs or complete replacement. Each incident costing time and money and interrupting efficiency in winter services.
To help reduce these incidents, Byers got to work on creating a system to troubleshot issues by run pumps in the garage as if they were out in the field. This helped identify and rectify problems sooner and with less interruption to services. This ultimately cut down on costs and has led to a faster, more consistent brine production with an overall improved process.
Elms, who was recognized for his support of innovation and facilitating the implementation of the idea added, "We don't really see too many problems with the pumps now. It's really a credit to Frank and his ingenuity."
Elms and Byers were two of the 48 PennDOT employees recognized for ideas and smart practices submitted through IdeaLink 20/20 and PennDOT WorkSmart, online employee engagement systems that allow employees to share their ideas and efficient work practices. The brine pump idea was submitted through the WorkSmart program.