Environment industries archive
Key departmental publications, e.g. annual reports, budget papers and program guidelines are available in our online archive.
Much of the material listed on these archived web pages has been superseded, or served a particular purpose at a particular time. It may contain references to activities or policies that have no current application. Many archived documents may link to web pages that have moved or no longer exist, or may refer to other documents that are no longer available.
Aiming for the highest standards in occupational health and safety as well as environmental protection, Narellan Pools Pty Ltd introduced new materials and equipment to cut down fumes and reduce waste. As well as improving health and environmental standards, cost savings have helped boosted the bottom line of Narellan, the fastest growing pool company in Australia. Estimated total savings through improved productivity are estimated to be $250,000 a year.
Narellan Pools manufactures fibreglass-reinforced resin swimming pools and spas, and has 25 employees and around 25 sub-contractors. It has been well known in NSW as a quality leader for more than two decades. However, making the best pool does not necessarily make for the most successful pool company. In 1989 when the company was taken over by its present owners, pool sales had dwindled to around 70 for the previous year and turnover was less than $800,000. Today the company produces around 750 pools a year and turnover is over $11 million, with export orders to the Asia-Pacific region and new opportunities in Europe opening up.
Building on its established reputation, the turnaround was achieved by improving all aspects of the business, including computerised production schedules and a planned manufacturing system. This helped to reduce costs, increase productivity, even out the cash flow and contribute to improved financial management. Better sales training and personnel, backed by an effective advertising and marketing program, led to an increase in the company's exposure and profile, and to more sales. A key success factor was also building good customer relations and commitment to quality and improvement. Increased referrals and leads led to establishing a network of pool agents throughout NSW and ACT, and more recently in Victoria.
Narellan's pools were always built to outlast the competition. However, better spray equipment, new and improved thermoset resins and innovative manufacturing techniques have been used to further improve and strengthen pools to an extent not imagined a decade ago. Today the company can send six pools to the Middle East, or the Pacific, all stacked inside each other, confident that they will arrive in perfect condition.
Although production had increased, Narellan continued to operate from its small original premises. By the late 1990s styrene concentrations in the workplace were over 200 parts per million (ppm), which was unpleasant for employees and nearby neighbours were complaining about fumes. Various measures were put in place in 1998/99 to reduce solvent emissions. Following a fire, the company moved to new premises in Picton, also close to neighbours. High environmental standards were necessary to address neighbour concerns and the new premises provided the opportunity to make further improvements.
The manufacturing process is as follows:
The shell is left on the mould for curing within the factory, since solvents are still being emitted. When cured, air is injected to separate the shell from the mould and shells are stacked in the factory yard ready for shipping.
Narellan uses the Fibre Glass International (FGI) Aquaguard system and is the only company in Australia using this low solvent emission system and having FGI Best Practice Manufacturing Accreditation. FGI supplies Narellan's gelcoats, resins and fibreglass, The trade name of the corrosion barrier is DerakaneŽ 441-400, and the structural laminate NORPOLŽ terephthalic resins.. These resins have a proven history of being the most suitable selection for underground storage tanks, a much harsher environment than that of swimming pools.
Pools are made to a range of shapes, sizes, colours and other features.
In 1999 the company began to change its operations at its old premises. Improvements included:
The move to new premises allowed the installation of a new in-floor filtration, extraction and scrubbing system. The styrene, being heavy, falls to the floor. A pump creates a vacuum which pulls the material through the floor to a scrubber connected to dispersion tank supplying continuously circulating water. Low levels of residual solvent are discharged to atmosphere via a stack. After initial complaints from neighbours it was found that effective operation of the system requires the factory door and windows to be closed.
In addition a warm air blower helps to disperse the already low levels of airborne solvent to improve working conditions.
In 2000 high materials costs and difficulties in handling overweight shells led to the introduction of production graphs to optimise the use of materials. Excess thickness does not improve performance but significantly increases materials usage.
Various benefits have been achieved:
The company achieved a payback period of about 12 months on the purchase of new spray guns and changes to air extraction, heating/cooling and materials handling. Initial savings in raw materials, labour and maintenance are expected to be about $250,000 per year.
The main driver for the cleaner production incentives has been environmental considerations which strongly influence the company's licence to operate. The new plant, like the old one, is in close proximity to neighbours and high standards were essential for planning permission and addressing potential opposition. An important consideration, too, has been creating a healthier and pleasanter working environment.
Increasingly, as production volume has grown, the financial benefits of process optimisation and waste reduction have become significant.
The main barrier has been changing work practices, including good housekeeping to reduce solvent emissions and the use of production graphs. This has been overcome by staff training.
The company is continuing to develop health, safety and environmental initiatives.
It is presently considering establishing a small, rapid turnaround plant in Victoria to contain heating and power costs and reduce transport costs.
Narellan Pools Pty Ltd
16 Bellingham St
Narellan NSW 2567
Ph: 61 2 4677 0812
Fax: 61 2 4648 2329
Date of implementation: 1999-2001
Date of further initiatives: Ongoing.
Case study prepared: June 2001 by Centre of Excellence in Cleaner Production, Curtin University of Technology based on a case prepared by NSW EPA.
Date last modified: July 2001.