Unison has achieved the ISO 14001 standard for its Environmental Management System, alongside the better-known ISO 9001 accreditation for its Quality Systems. The company designs and manufactures all-electric tube bending machines, and the two awards recognise an exceptional degree of commitment both to the needs of its automotive and aerospace customers, and the wider environment.
The ISO14001 standard is particularly stringent. Rather than simply setting specific environmental targets, it requires organisations to demonstrate a root-and-branch approach to environmental issues that educates and involves everyone in the company. Organisations that come through the detailed assessment successfully can play a key role in helping their customers achieve their environmental targets, as well as being 'good neighbours' to their local community.
Unison's Andrew Leak explains: "As far as we know, we are the first in our industry to achieve this dual accreditation. Initially, we were planning to go for the ISO 9001 quality standard alone but, as we already manufacture some of the most environmentally-friendly machines in the world, it seemed logical to work towards ISO 14001 at the same time.
"You could say, we have now brought the whole organisation up to the environmental standards set by our products."
The company's environmental policy is far-reaching. It starts with the products – Unison's all-electric tube bending machines are exceptionally energy efficient, using 80 per cent less energy than previous-generation hydraulic systems - and extends right through the organisation, down to recycling plastic containers from the restaurant for golf-course drainage. The company has also adopted energy-efficient company vehicles.
Leak adds: "The process of accreditation for both standards has taken around 18 months, but it does not stop here: we have a programme of continuous improvement under way, which will ensure that we maintain momentum. These issues are becoming increasingly important to the automotive and aerospace industries, and we are now well positioned to meet the demand."