Savannah River Nuclear Solutions Shares Suggestion System with SC Companies

Banner photoAIKEN, SC – March 16, 2021 - The OpExChange is comprised of 125 companies of various sizes, complexities, and industries. Regardless of the company composition, an underlying ambition for each is how to effectively harness the collective ideas and untapped knowledge of our workforce.

Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS) has been an active OpExChange member for nearly 12 years. Last week, they gave a teach-back session to South Carolina companies on their international award-winning employee suggestion program. The presenter was Blake Leaphart, the Senior Lean Six Sigma Specialist for Savannah River Nuclear Solutions (SRNS). They are presently the largest employer of the OpExChange companies with approximately 6,500 employees.

SRNS manages and operates the Savannah River Site, a 310 square mile, nuclear reservation spanning three counties in the Central Savannah River Area. This industrial complex, owned by the US Department of Energy, processes, and stores nuclear materials in support of national defense and U.S nuclear nonproliferation efforts. It produces uranium for commercial nuclear reactors and is the only national site to produce tritium, a radioactive hydrogen gas that is integral in nuclear weapon design.

Blake emphasized that a robust employee suggestion system is a phenomenal tool to collect the undiscovered intelligence of the workforce and turn this into results that not only benefit the organization but also increase employee morale and improve the community.

The SRNS employee suggestion program is reportedly the longest, continuous-running suggestion program in the United States. It was incepted in 1952, undergoing continuous improvement since then. During this time, it won over 50 national and international awards. The program generated $250 million in savings directly from employee suggestions, with approximately $1 million per year for the past two years.

Blake’s presentation was not just reporting the success of the program at SRNS. More importantly, this was a teaching session to share the fundamentals of not only how to begin a program but also how to sustain and grow it. Blake shared that whether your organization has as many as 6,500 employees or as little as 25, the essential foundations and components of the system are tantamount.

There were 36 companies from across South Carolina participating in this session and the reference material and recorded session were shared with all OpExChange members across South Carolina.


The OpExChange is a peer-to-peer network of companies in South Carolina dedicated to learning and growing together. Member companies host events and share practical examples of industrial automation, lean manufacturing improvements, and leadership development. It is an invaluable resource to South Carolina companies that provides access to others who are on similar improvement journeys. If you are interested in joining, contact Mike Demos ( or visit the OpExChange website to see current companies:

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