CVW talks to Witham Group’s Managing Director, Nigel Bottom, about its hard work to support UK commercial vehicle workshops through its ‘going green’ philosophy.
Going green in a workshop is always a team effort, but – exploring lubricants – transitioning from conventional raw materials to non-toxic materials is one of the hardest areas a garage must consider. Workshops and garages traditionally use chemicals and fossil-based products like engine oil which are essential to their business. These are not usually environmentally-friendly products but there are ways you can identify and promote a greener culture by working a little smarter.
When looking at green credentials, you have to look at the full package. Not only the more common elements of sustainability but also right back to your supply chain and the products and services you operate within.
Review the efficiencies of lighting, heating, ventilation, cooling systems, insulation opportunities, water use, and pollution control. Ideas include:
- Installing solar panels on workshop roofs and depots – they often cover a wide surface area and can help generate new power to heat and light buildings and machinery and equipment.
- Harvest rain water from the roofs and collect in IBC containers. Use the water to wash and clean vehicles and other equipment throughout the year. Thousands of litres of water can be saved each year.
- Install PIR lighting so no lights are on unless they need to be.
The choice of lubricants that a workshop uses are wide and varied but can you ensure that suppliers offer the following to help you achieve your own greener goals:
- Biodegradable alternatives – such as Prolan Lubricants – Witham’s range of multi-purpose lubricants which uses sheep’s lanolin as the strongest, natural lubricant nature can supply. This has been captured and blended to produce a range of five viscosity oils, from light work like chain and maintenance oils to restoration rust preventers and anti-seize greases, which are not only biodegradable but non-toxic and food and water safe.
- Other alternatives such as biodegradable chain oils and hydraulic and tipping oils are extremely popular and give comparable performance to more traditional mineral counterparts.
- Lowering CO2 emissions and improving fuel economy is high on the agenda of all fleet owners. Swapping lubricants to a fuel-efficient approved alternative can save more than 1.5-2.5% fuel saving if carried out correctly. Lower viscosity lubricant sales are on the rise and engine oil can make a real difference to emissions and carbon impact.
Purchasing not only fully recyclable packaging, but container plastic packing from some suppliers are now made from at least 30% recycled materials.
- Choose a lubricant supplier that offers recyclable or recycled packaging
- Recycling schemes are also available for bulk 200 litre barrels
- Partner with local recycling and waste suppliers – many schemes are available nationwide.
Bulk storage tanks
Workshops and garages tend to use a lot of the same lubricant products and can have piles of used plastic containers lying around the place, so consider installing bulk storage tanks. Your lubricant supplier can advise on the best way to install the tanks. Lubricants are filled up in the colour coded tanks as required, and the tanks have sight gauges, taps, or pumps and come labelled with the different product names and their application.
Simple, clean and easy to use, these tanks help keep your working space shipshape and avoid spills from containers. They also help avoid important oil contamination and help the environment by using less packaging. They also provide important health and safety requirements for lubricant storage. Using bulk storage tanks across all the workshops and garages in the UK would save thousands and thousands of plastic and metal containers being sent to landfill and would save on waste collection costs and administration.
Use a supplier where greener technologies and processes are at the fore. After all, how lubricants are manufactured is changing – this alone can be one of the most beneficial of savings to a workshop environment. Using a unique new blending process, Witham Group has developed a new way to manufacture lubricants using ultrasound.
Blendtek, as the new process is called, removes the need for base oils and product formulae to be heated up for long periods of time using traditional gas energy. Instead, thousands of tonnes of high quality workshop oils using no heat and no agitation can be made using solar panels and a simple 13A plug, saving time, energy and drastically reducing the carbon footprint.
Witham are now the first lubricant blending company in the UK to manufacture its lubricants in a 100% carbon neutral way. The basic principle of ultrasound is to use a high-speed, micro-cinematographic sequence of laser-induced cavitations near to a solid surface. In short – and quantify it – using a traditional blending process (similar to Witham’s old plant) using heat to blend and mix generated from gas burners and/or steam from a boiler and standard agitation (paddles) created a carbon footprint of 1962kW per 10,000 litres produced.
Using the Blendtek system, Witham manufactures 10,000 litres of high quality workshop lubricating oil using no heat and no agitation, and, more importantly, the company only generates a carbon footprint of 6kW per blend.
Rather than companies looking to offset their carbon usage – this concept stops the use of high levels of energy in the first place. The desire to go green and the rewards being given by the Government to support are encouraging.
Ultimately, if everyone looked at their business to see how environmental improvements can be easily made within their business, from what they buy and from who, workshops and garages could collectively make a huge success of going green.
Put another way, building a brick wall on your own would be difficult. However, ask each person to simply place one brick, one at a time, and encourage their friends to do the same, the wall would build itself.