Life is trying things to see if they work – Ray Bradbury

For the record, I am nosey.  I love to find out what makes people and organisations tick, and this week I have been lucky enough to see behind the scenes of Teagle Farm Machinery to find out about sustainability in a manufacturing setting.

Teagle, based just north of Truro in Cornwall, manufacture agricultural equipment and currently have bursting order books from the domestic and international market.  In December 2016, they won the coveted ‘Best Managed Large Business’ and ‘Overall Winner’ at the prestigious Cornwall Sustainability Awards – so I was keen to learn what had prompted their actions and what difference have the changes made.

Many of the changes were expected – new buildings to improve the environment and insulation; introduction of skylights to increase natural daylight; low energy lighting; movement sensors for lighting; sensors to measure light levels and turn off unnecessary lighting; heat transference; solar panels and an inhouse programme designed to turn off extraction equipment when not required.

However, there were two areas where I was really blown away.  Teagle equipment is mainly painted bright red, with some items in yellow.  Originally, this involved spray painting which was wasteful, produced solvent fumes and was not very hard wearing leading to complaints.  A new process for powder coating was introduced.  This gives a more durable finish, ensures that approximately 90% of the paint is used and avoids noxious fumes and solvents.  Another benefit is there are no paint runs, so the finish is more professional.

The second area that grabbed my attention relates to the disposal of oil that has been cleaned off machinery to prepare it for painting.  Previously, this had to be transported off site for disposal.  Today, Teagles rely on oil eating bacteria.  The oil is washed off into a tank containing bacteria that eat the oil, leaving water that can be disposed of normally.  These bacteria seem to have evolved off the north west coast of Spain, possibly as a result of oil spills.

The resulting works have not only reduced the company’s impact on the planet, but have had a dramatic effect on the working environment for the employees.  It is a great example of looking at the processes involved and seeing what changes can be made that will reduce the impacts on the environment, improve the working environment and help support healthy profits.

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