Bó Steel: Design award for the nursing barn


Bó Steel won a national design award for his unique milk shed he built in Headford, County Galway.

The company is an agricultural engineering company specializing in livestock handling solutions to help improve safety on Irish farms for farmers and animals.

The award was part of the Irish Business Design Challenge 2021. Bó Steel, of Athenry, Co. Galway, was the co-winner in the small and medium category.

The competition is an initiative of the Design & Crafts Council Ireland in partnership with Enterprise Ireland and the Local Enterprise Offices. It is supported by the Ministry of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.

According to Paul Lyons, founder and technical director of Bó Steel, he discovered the competition thanks to the board of directors of his local company.

Talk to It’s agriculture, he said:

“When I read the criteria for the competition, I realized this was exactly what we were doing with a project for our only client, Sean McDonagh, a farmer from Headford. “

“We tried to innovate, trying to solve some problems for him. We were initially sitting on the fence a bit. Was this a product we could offer? is it once? “

“But the more we delved into it, the more we realized that there was a need in the market for a little more innovative thinking about farm building.”

Paul adds that they believed they had done something of merit and wanted to see if they could get recognition for it.

“And at the same time, we thought we could get some publicity out of it as well.”

€ 15,000 in R&D earnings

Paul will invest their winning prize of € 15,000 in R&D. The company has booked an older building on site, which it is fitting out and dedicating for this purpose.

“In the normal functioning of a company, it is not always possible to release funds for R&D.

Elaborating on the hangar itself, he says construction began in October 2020 and was completed in March of this year.

“Sean is a good client for us. He bought several products from us in a few years. I have met him a few times, and he struck me as someone with good ideas. He really reflects them.

“Plus he has a lot of contact with the farmers themselves, and they all talk. He had this idea for a shed, and at that time we weren’t building farm buildings.

Paul says he initially declined the offer, but ultimately accepted the project, building the structure and the livestock handling solutions.

Design for a one-person farm

It was important that everything in the hangar, as far as possible, could be operated with one hand.

“Plus, he needed to be safe. If he had an aggressive animal, there had to be exits or barriers to protect him.

“He has an aging family. His father and mother are on the farm with him. If for some reason they entered the hangar, they had to be safe. All of this guided us in our design decisions.

Regarding one-person farm designs, Paul says this has become more relevant over the past decade or so, especially with the shortage of farm labor.

“We have done this successfully for clients a few times. It just requires careful planning.

Bó Steel, an agricultural engineering company, won a national design award for its unique nursing shed it built in Headford, County Galway.

Safety is a top priority

Safety is a priority in all designs and work that Bó Steel undertakes.

“I have seen and heard of my fair share of agricultural accidents. I guess as you grow up on a farm you will always be involved in a few incidents, although luckily nothing bad has ever happened.

“We tend to hear firsthand stories of near misses and tragedies. It really focuses the mind on trying to improve your product or trying to solve a problem.

Paul says the design and construction of the shed really brought home what can be achieved with a little bit of thought outside the box.

“If you take a standard feature and tweak it slightly, you get a whole different product. Something people can safely use; is simple to use and they are comfortable and satisfied.

Additionally, after the victory, Bó Steel expects more custom builds to follow. They already have “a lot of interest in a few jobs,” continues Paul.

“Farmers normally come to see us when the shed is under construction or has already been completed. But in the future, we will engage the farmers from the beginning with the start-up phase. “

Bó Steel, an agricultural engineering company, won a national design award for its unique nursing shed it built in Headford, County Galway.

Win is excellent for agriculture

Shedding more light on the victory, Paul says what makes it special is that it’s great for farming, especially since it’s a farm shed.

“Agriculture is often mentioned for all the wrong reasons. Therefore, it is good that an award is given for something positive, and it is good for farm safety.

“This is good news for agriculture. We badly need it.

Personally, Paul feels good to be recognized after starting the business in 2007 and building it from scratch.

“We started during the recession. I’ve always tried to design new products, and it’s just great to win something.

Paul comes from an agricultural background and has been involved in repairs and making farms from a young age.

He studied mechanical engineering, after which he worked in the military as an engineer before founding Bó Steel.

In the last two years he has obtained a Masters in Innovation from the National University of Ireland in Galway.

“It was actually focused on innovation in agriculture, which really touched me and helped me tremendously.”

Bó Steel, an agricultural engineering company, won a national design award for its unique nursing shed it built in Headford, County Galway.

Calving gates generate income

Most of Bó Steel’s income comes from the sale of calving gates. This is followed by their Structured Steels for Industry and Construction division.

The group is focused on growing the agricultural aspect of its business and developing its products.

As for growth, Paul says their UK exports have likely doubled this year.

“Because we’re a small, agile company, we can quickly adapt our products to a different market if we need to, while a larger company may struggle. “

Around 70% of the group’s turnover is generated locally. Besides the UK, it is also generating interest in its products from Europe and as far away as Australia.

Bó Steel, an agricultural engineering company, won a national design award for its unique nursing shed it built in Headford, County Galway.

Sold online

Bó Steel also operates online activities, although they are mainly complementary. Paul says a lot of their products are quite large and difficult to sell online.

“But some of our small safety items, like backstop bars and some door brackets, are sold there. “

“In an ideal world, we would like to sell more online, but farmers are very tactile. They like to see and smell the product before they buy it. And they certainly like to talk to the person who made the product beforehand.

Commenting on what he sees as the key to a successful business, Paul says it’s important to listen to your customer. “A big part of the thinking behind our design process is to listen to the customer.”

As for what he still wants to accomplish with Bó Steel, Paul concludes: “We want to be the market leaders in our field. This is one of the reasons I founded the company.

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