Customers and employees of Bayer Corp. - formerly Miles and once Mobay - may need to take a couple of the company's aspirin tablets now that it has changed its name for the second time in a little more than three years.

The latest revision of the Pittsburgh, PA-based plastics supplier's nomenclature will give the company one worldwide name and a stronger position as the auto industry progresses toward globalization, says H. Lee Noble, president of Bayer's polymers division.

The Miles-to-Bayer switch comes five months after Miles acquires Sterling Withrop's North American over-the-counter drug business, including Bayer aspirin and the Bayer trademark. Mobay-Miles Miles always had been a subsidiary of Bayer AG, the German-based international chemical and health care company.

"Until we acquired the Bayer aspirin business we could not use the name in the U.S.," explains Mr. Noble, who adds that the company was known as Miles only in the U.S. and Canada."

Now Mr. Noble again must establish an identity for a new name. In January 1992 the company, which had been called Mobay since it was established in 1954, changed its name to Miles. He admits the frequent changes have caused a bit of confusion among customers, but believes this transition will be easier.

"There was some confusion for a while when we changed the name to Miles," Mr. Noble recalls. "We had the Mobay name pretty recognizable." He says it took about a year to get everyone acclimated to the new name then. That move was made because Miles had better global recognition at the time than Mobay.

"This change will be accepted more quickly in the auto industry because of the Big Three's "connections to the European industry," says Mr. Noble. "Globally, Bayer is an automotive name. Most of Detroit has recognized for years that we are a subsidiary of Bayer in Germany."

Bayer supplies raw materials for many automotive components including seat cushions, bumpers, interior pieces and exterior coatings. The company claims it's the world's largest supplier of polyurethane.

With the new name, Mr. Noble says the company will have a renewed global orientation "It's something you really have to work at," he says of the industry's globalization trend, which Bayer anticipated 15 years ago when it instituted its World Automotive Committee. "It takes a real effort to get that coordination, preventing working at cross purposes," he adds.

Mr. Noble says he's not concerned about the industry's recent slowdown. hi fact, he's excited about Bayer's potential to pounce on several industry growth opportunities.

"But even if (the market) does slow down more than we expect, our products are still taking a greater share of the materials market," he says. "The value of plastics will continue to grow."

Body panels, interiors, side-impact energy absorption and recycling are the most fertile ground for plastics industry growth, says Mr. Noble.

"We recognize the importance of recycling to the auto industry and have focused our research and development efforts on solving this challenge," he says.

Fruits of these efforts include a proprietary technology allowing polyurethane RIM scrap to be molded into new parts. The 1994 Jeep Renegade features a close-out panel molded completely of recycled RIM polyurethane. The part was compression molded from RIM scrap from Chrysler minivans and replaced a part originally made from new material.

Bayer believes the 100% recycle-content material will see future uses in fender liners, wheel-well liners, air ducts, air deflectors and other parts requiring strength but not a high-gloss surface.

The company's other primary recycling initiative is a process to recycle seat-cushion foam.