Small and medium-sized companies constitute the bulk of businesses making up the sector and need tools to manage and design agricultural machines in a more sustainable way. A recently published ISO standard on sustainability principles for tractors and machinery for agriculture and forestry will help designers and manufacturers of such machines to integrate sustainability principles, practices and considerations into their organizations and processes.
ISO 17989-1:2015, Tractors and machinery for agriculture and forestry – Sustainability – Part 1: Principles, gives manufacturers the guidance they need to consider the sustainability aspects that are relevant to their organization and the life cycle of its products. The standard is specifically applicable to equipment used in the production of food, fibres, fuel and lumber for humans and livestock.
A product’s design, and its use over its lifetime, can have a significant impact on the quality and sustainability of the environment in which it operates. Taking steps to reduce the impacts of a product at the design and development stage is an important factor in sustaining the environment. In this sense, designing for sustainability can be seen as a process (i.e. a set of considerations that are integrated into a product’s design and development) to help reduce the negative impacts of the product and improve its performance.
This part of ISO 17989 is the first of a series of standards specifying principles for sustainability and recommends looking at “sustainability” as a management task to be entrusted to the manufacturer. Other parts are planned to address specific families of products and specify approaches related to sustainability in the design and use of products/machines. Such standards could provide machinery purchasers with the means to fairly compare the impacts of competing products.
The principle of sustainability needs to be put in concrete terms in order to reflect the specific conditions of the agricultural machinery industry and to be made operable. The standard provides guidelines for its application and recommends seven steps including:
- Determining stakeholders groups and ascertaining their claims
- Aligning the company’s policy
- Determining performance characteristics, indicators and measures reflecting these interests
- Optimizing the performance characteristics through a continuous improvement process
- Reporting to stakeholders on the progress achieved
- Assessing and adapting targets and measures
This series of standards is developed by technical committee ISO/TC 23, Tractors and machinery for agriculture and forestry, under the stewardship of AFNOR, the ISO member for France. It deals with the interface between tractors and implements, and is built as an open system that guarantees the worldwide interchangeability of equipment while ensuring compatibility with existing systems. Even if tractors and machines are provided by different manufacturers, ISO/TC 23 standards ensure the machine combination works, allowing the farmers to buy their equipment based on choice, rather than compatibility constraints, to satisfy their specific needs. In addition, ISO/TC 23 standards ensure the operator’s safety and contribute to environmental protection and road safety.