•  +353 61 304566 

Abrel Secures ISO 14001 Certification on Environmental Management

2023 hasn’t been without its challenges for Abrel, given that we operate globally, and two international wars has created significant economic uncertainty (secondary of course to desperate human tragedy). But we have pushed on with some major development at the business and ultimately it has been a year of progress and success.

Most recently, after a lot of work, we are delighted to have been certified with ISO 14001, which is regulated by the NQA Global Certification Body (NQA). This is the gold-standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS) and the process includes benchmarking existing environmental processes and impacts, identifying actions and then auditing progress three months later, with a view to achieving certification.

Comprehensive Environmental Assessment

Quality Manager Kieran Kilbridge led the process which looked at every aspect of the business in this context including but not limited to,

  • Landfill waste and the need to minimise this.
  • Recycled waste, such as cardboard and printed circuit boards.
  • Energy consumption, which needed to be managed given our increased capacity.
  • LED lighting, which had already been installed earlier in the year.
  • The disposal of chemicals, with the aim of managing and minimising waste.
  • Printed materials, with a move towards the paperless office.
  • Hot desking to optimise space and the facilitation of working from home where feasible.

Kieran has specialist expertise in this field and had previously managed to secure similar certifications in previous roles, so he was ideally placed to lead the project for Abrel.

A Sustained Team Effort

Kieran led an Abrel team which documented the necessary processes and procedures into an Environmental Management System (EMS), through this process the team were able and willing to take ownership of the processes and procedures relevant to their responsibilities.

To this end, training was arranged so that there was a high awareness of the EMS and the need to address certain issues. Some interesting factors were considered that had not been addressed previously. For example,

Fire Risk Assessment

We looked at both the risk our neighbours posed to our facility and similarly the risk we posed to them in the context of a potential fire and the risk from hazardous materials etc. And, we analysed how these risks could affect the local environment. As a result, a Fire Prevention System was developed.

Accounting for Environmental Impacts

One of the important aspects of ISO 14001 is that it is an ongoing process, not a one-off project. While the certification itself lasts three years, there is an assessment each year and a re-certification process every three years – so its essential that the processes set out in the EMS are implemented consistently. One of the things that crystalises progress is the fact that the value of environmental and financial savings have to be established and recorded in the annual accounts. This will be a first for Abrel and a welcome move to put environmental issues into centre-stage in terms of running the business.

Challenges Specific to Abrel

While we are committed to making the necessary changes, of course like every business, not all are simple or easy to implement.

One of our challenges has been the fact that we increased capacity significantly recently therefore trying to show energy savings while increasing production is difficult. Growth of itself typically demands the use of more resources, so it’s a balancing act to deliver sustainable increases in productivity and production alongside reducing the use of resources. But we are working hard on this!

Naturally, also a certain level of chemicals and components are essential to use in our assemblies and we cannot achieve a zero count in this context, however we have always been lead-free, we are reducing the use of materials where possible and recycling everything we can.

Managing shipping is another area which can be challenging. For example, while it is not environmentally friendly to have multiple couriers arriving over the course of every few days, and ideally deliveries might be batched weekly, the commercial reality is that business doesn’t wait. So, we identify where orders can be delivered in batches and where immediate couriers are essential. While this is a compromise, its necessary to stay relevant in a commercial context.

Another consideration is the fact that we are located in an IDA Park. Therefore we are not in control of certain aspects of our environmental impact such as certain chemical disposal and waste water management. However luckily we are a comparatively clean industry and we are addressing the elements we can control.

Benefits of ISO 14001 Certification

There’s a lot of advantages for Abrel and our customers in securing this certification. These include

  • Improved Environmental management. Reduce our resource use, improve the overall efficiency of our business and keep the larger impact of our operations to an absolute minimum.
  • Legal compliance. A clear understanding of how statutory and regulatory requirements impact our organisation and our customers.
  • Reduced operating costs. Achieving efficiencies in energy and water usage and through waste minimisation means money saved.
  • Improved stakeholder relationships. Operating globally, certification is the best way to demonstrate to potential new customers we are taking proactive steps to be responsible
  • Meets Client Requirements. This certification is a requirement for many Tier 1 semi-conductor companies and now Abrel meets this condition, which cements existing key relationships and opens up opportunities for the business to secure contracts with new customers.
  • Savings. Obviously, there are both environmental and financial savings in implementing an effective Environmental Management System.
  • Clarity. The steps needed in securing certification has helped clarify, document and improve many of our processes.
  • Awareness. The awareness programme has brought the whole team together with a common, positive purpose which has been hugely motivational.

Ultimately by introducing more environmental sustainability practices, Abrel is not only contributing to the green agenda, the business itself is also on a more sustainable footing – to secure employment, growth and profitability into the future.

Contact Abrel