22 September 2023

A small company making a big impact

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David Graham, Managing Director of Automation Engineers Australia (AEA), talks about using ClimateClever on ICN Gateway to future proof its environmental strategy.

With just 11 full time staff and one factory, Automation Engineers Australia (AEA) punches well above its weight when it comes to working with customers to increase efficiency, streamline production and reduce energy consumption. 

Under the direction of David Graham, Managing Director and lead Engineer, AEA designs and installs reliable and energy efficient systems for clients. It is licensed to use the Australian Made Australian owned logo on several of its products, and It is particularly proud of its Australian patent over the PowerQube ®. This portable 1000 V/1200 kW power generator produces 1500 KW of cooling capacity, with an average of 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. 

The system’s patented design harnesses waste heat to produce a chilling effect through a chemical and refrigeration process without the need for additional equipment, significantly reducing operating costs. 

Through this and other products, AEA provides impressive sustainability improvements for clients.  

It also holds three ISO accreditations, Including ISO 14001 for its environmental management system. But according to AEA West Coast Manager, Chris Wheeler, just having the accreditation is not enough. 

“Companies put it on their charter, but if they’re a small company they don’t have the resources to dedicate to it,” he said. 

Chris realised he needed to look more closely at the ISO and what policies and procedures were needed internally. 

“One of the things that comes up in a lot of the major company tenders is how you manage your environmental reporting, or what you’re doing for your forecasting,” he said. 

“Our MD wanted to have a sustainability policy with some substance and we didn’t have the experience or tools to support this internally, hence the use of a third party proving credibility to our environmental strategy for the future Chris attended an ICN workshop and met ClimateClever founder Dr Vanessa Rauland. 

After a tele call between Vanessa Rauland from Climate Clever and David Graham MD, it was an easy decision to make to partner with Climate Clever. “Using their unique platform enables us to record and set actions, and report and track our progress to reduce our carbon footprint, the data entry “was easy”,” Chris commented. 

“I looked at it as an environmental manager with specific KPI’s. It comes down to the proof the proof is in the facts.” 

AEA has been with ClimateClever for several months now and Chris has created the first report. Once he had captured all the data, it became apparent that the biggest contributor to AEA’s carbon footprint was its service vehicles. 

“We’ve got five vehicles doing an average of 1000 kilometers a week. So, it’s all about recording it and then setting targets to try and reduce that,” he said.  

“I have discussed with David Graham MD, on the options such as carbon offsetting through the fuel company, as well as review of EV service vehicles options for the future where practicable”. 

Another major contributor is the electricity and water usage. 

“We’re expanding and we’ve moved premises twice in the past four years,” Chris said. 

“We are moving again in the next month and the most recent facility that AEA has taken a lease over has modern, sustainable features such as EV charging, Rooftop Solar and low voltage lighting and is double the size of the current facility”. 

Chris said AEA is aiming for net zero, but they also have to be practical and realistic. 

“You set a goal and you always want to achieve that goal, but it’s got to be reasonably practicable,” he said. 

“As a small company we know we have to spend our money carefully, and we don’t have a huge budget to devote to resources with several staff wearing multiple hats.”  

It is also important to AEA that any climate action it takes internally does not negatively affect clients. 

For example, if a goal is to minimise vehicle travel, it’s not plausible to not immediately respond to a machinery breakdown in order to save a road trip. 

But for a small cost and effort, ClimateClever gives AEA an understanding of how it can track and set actions to help reduce its carbon footprint. 

“I think people are now realising we’ve got to make a difference. The earth won’t keep on going the way it’s going if we don’t give something back,” Chris said. 

“ClimateClever is a very, very practical company. They’re not trying to change the earth, they’re trying to make a change, where possible. 

“The process for us is taking that conscious decision to put everything on paper.  When we complete a tender, it’s quite easy. I put on the tender within the environmental section that we are ISO 14001 and record through our actions through ClimateClever.  

“As long as you’re doing something, making a conscious effort, that’s what the larger companies are looking for.” 

For more information about Automation Engineers Australia, go to the company website. 


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