A furniture reuse project that I’ve been working with Farrell Furniture, Office of Public Works and Atlantic Technological University over 15 months has just ended.
I’ve mixed feelings about the end of this pilot project, which was funded by Irish Manufacturing Research via their Circuleire programme. On the one hand I’m so thrilled that we delivered what we set out to do but I’ll miss working with the wonderful team.
The pilot project involved a consortium of a furniture manufacturer, an academic partner and a furniture owner and explored the circular potential of two streams of end-of-use furniture, the Crannac chair and the Partners workstation.
The Crannac chair were produced in Co. Meath from 1961 to 2003, when the company Crannac closed down. These chairs have become a staple of public offices throughout the country, and as such have suffered from wear and tear through everyday use. Damaged Crannac chairs are currently refurbished by the OPW, but without original drawings and documentation, the OPW’s restoration department is limited in the scope of repairs they can undertake.
The Partners workstation were developed in response to a government tender for office furniture in the early 2000s. Since then, approximately 10,000 of these workstations have been installed in government offices around the country. Although still in working order, the large L-shape of the Partners workstation – designed to accommodate CRT display monitors – has become outdated and is being replaced with smaller bench-style workstations, leading to their disposal.
Pilot Scope, Aims + Objectives
The aim of this pilot study project was to examine the circular potential of these two streams of high-quality, Irish designed and made furniture as they reached the end of their use-cycle.
With regards to the Crannac Chairs the following tasks were carried out.
- Assessment of current restoration processes carried out by the OPW.
- Creation of working drawings for each of the Crannac chair models to aid chair remanufacture.
- Establishment of a manufacture process for the Crannac chairs.
- Repair of 4 existing Crannac Chair
- Manufacturing of 4 new Crannac chairs
With regard to the Partners workstations the tasks involved were:
- Disassembly, transportation and storage of end-of-use workstations
- Assessment and cataloguing of returned materials and components
- Creation of a database for the tracking of returned materials and components
- Design of prototypes, suitable for the OPW, that would repurpose returned materials and components
- Manufacturing of a number of approved prototype designs
- Calculating the cost of take-back and repurposing for returned materials and components into new products.
- Identifying the next step in applying the learning from the pilot project in Farrell Furniture.
Additionally financial and environmental calculations for the entire lifecycle of the products were created to show assess the feasibility impact of the pilot.
In the case of the Crannac chair, the pilot project showed how there could be a total saving of almost €4000 by utilising a circular business model over the lifespan of the chairs. Also, after the work on the pilot the OPW now has the capability to create new components for broken chairs from the working drawings and production processes that have been created. They can also create new chairs from scratch to complete sets increasing the overall rate for reuse of this chair across government departments.
In the case of the products made from the Partners workstations, it was found that, when compared to making from new materials, a cost saving of 35% could be achieved. The pilot has also succeeded in creating a database for Farrell Furniture that allows them to manage the inflow of returned materials and components for reuse in manufacturing, cutting down on the amount of virgin material required for further products produced by Farrells.
The company are now looking at how best to increases material reuse in the company, which will reduce the company’s environmental impact, exposure to supply chain shortages and material costs.
Our Services on this Project
Farrells were the lead partner on this pilot project and I was contracted to
- upskill their project team on circular design principles
- mentor and support their staff
- offer project management advice
- review and advise on reports
- review and amend carbon calculations
- advise on best practice on sustainable and circular design as required
I would like to thank Farrells for offering me this opportunity to work with them on this project and ATU and the OPW for helping to make is such an enjoyable experience.
If you would like support in progressing a sustainable or circular business idea or project, get in touch via our contact page.