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Winslow Group introduces biodiesel with the help of Viva Energy

Winslow Group introduces biodiesel with the help of Viva Energy

Winslow Group – a civil construction services company passionate about protecting and enhancing the environment in which it operates – is well into its decarbonisation journey, recently starting its move to biodiesel through Viva Energy.

Trent Chamberlain, group procurement manager at Winslow Group, says the company realised the potential of biodiesel for reducing emissions after discussions with key stakeholders at an energy summit sponsored by Viva Energy and organised by the Victorian Transport Association, and after completing the first carbon inventory of its operations in 2022.

Trent Chamberlain, group procurement manager, Winslow Group.
Trent Chamberlain, group procurement manager, Winslow Group.

“Our 2022 carbon inventory brought to light the potential of biodiesel fuel as an easy solution, readily available to contribute to reducing our scope one emissions produced by diesel burn throughout our operations,” says Chamberlain.

“We have a long-term relationship with Viva Energy – our supplier of fuels and lubricants for our plant and equipment.

“It was a natural progression to look at sustainable options with Viva Energy given our established relationship. The company is one of the largest fuel suppliers in Australia with extensive supply chain and logistics infrastructure to support its solutions.

“There is also a natural alignment between Winslow Group and Viva Energy’s sustainability ambitions, so it made sense to take our biodiesel journey together.”

Biodiesel is a co-mingled product that has a bio-sourced component of Fatty Acid Methyl Esters (FAME) – esters of fatty acids derived from vegetable oils and animal fats – used as an alternative to conventional diesel. Typically, biodiesel is blended with diesel in ratios of five per cent (B5), 10 per cent (B10) and 20 per cent (B20).

What truly pushed Winslow Group over the line to introduce biodiesel, says Chamberlain, is the product’s ability to provide environmental benefits without impacting company operations. Competitiveness in the construction industry is ever-increasing, and downtime can be the difference between winning or losing a project tender.

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“Within the construction industry delivery and lead times are really important to our clients,” says Chamberlain. “Limiting project downtime provides our customers with certainty around us being able to get the job delivered on time, without delays. So, we’re really cautious about making any changes that could impact our overall production schedules of the jobsites that we work on.

“For us, introducing biodiesel was a logical choice because it requires no capital investment on our part in any of our plant or equipment, and at the B10 blend we’re using it’s essentially a drop-in solution – it doesn’t have any real impact on our operations or our equipment, and the fuelling process of our vehicles remains the same.”

Yap Chong Hua, key account manager – transport, Viva Energy.
Yap Chong Hua, key account manager – transport, Viva Energy.

Viva Energy key account manager – transport Yap Chong Hua says there are several advantages to using biodiesel, particularly in regard to the sustainability outcomes it produces without impact on the company’s operations.

“My role is to support customers in their transition to biodiesel by providing them access to the right technical experts within our business,” says Yap. “In the case of Winslow Group transitioning to our biodiesel product, we were able to support the company through our fuel product quality experts, who are available to answer any questions.”

“We also engaged our supply chain specialists to ensure Winslow Group’s transition to biodiesel was seamless.

“A big part of my role includes helping our customers, including Winslow Group, transition to biodiesel with no impact to their operations, while also making sure the product quality is up to specification and any original equipment manufacturer (OEM) requirements or concerns about using biodiesel are addressed by both Viva Energy and the customer.”

The major advantage, explains Yap, is there is no need for the company transitioning to biodiesel to change any of its business practices. The company can simply order the biodiesel instead of its regular diesel and as a result, get an up to 20 per cent bio component and therefore a 20 per cent reduction in carbon emissions with no impact to operations. Fundamentally, it’s business as usual for the contractor.

With the Australian Federal Government’s recent commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050 and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to 43 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030 across the nation, Yap says Viva Energy has seen many customers take a ‘wait and see’ posture.

“Whereas Winslow Group is stepping up to make greener choices now,” explains Yap. “Winslow Group gets the immediate benefits of reducing its emissions by using biodiesel as an alternative to conventional diesel, but those benefits also flow down to its customers and the country’s broader sustainability goals.”

“It’s customers like Winslow Group, those actively striving to reduce emissions today, that are positioning themselves ahead of the curve as sustainability requirements intensify across the industry – which we’re already seeing in the surging popularity of specified green buildings.”

Winslow Group’s introduction of biodiesel has been further streamlined by the extensive support it has received along the way. Viva Energy has provided educational materials to Winslow Group’s plant and logistics department to help all its team members understand the benefits of using biodiesel, giving them confidence around its use.

“Viva Energy has also provided information around the various blends of biodiesel available to be used on different pieces of our plant and equipment, because that percentage can change depending on engine configuration, equipment and brand,” says Chamberlain. “Viva Energy has provided all of the information we’ve needed to make our move to introduce biodiesel successful.”

“As the procurement manager at Winslow Group, I’m getting more and more calls from our project managers who are speaking to our clients about what sustainability options we can bring into the jobs and developments that they’re creating.

“We’re seeing an increase in customers wanting contractors to use sustainable solutions on their projects and it’s happening on all levels, from big publicly listed companies with clear targets around their sustainability ambitions to smaller private developers.”

Biodiesel is a drop-in solution – it doesn’t require major upgrades to company equipment or assets.
Biodiesel is a drop-in solution – it doesn’t require major upgrades to company equipment or assets.

As it does with all of its customers, Viva Energy put in time and effort to understand exactly what Winslow Group was trying to achieve and the timeline it had in mind for its sustainability journey. As Mairead Hayes, national sales manager – commercial road transport at Viva Energy puts it – “there’s no one-size-fits-all solution on the journey to sustainability”.

Although customers like Winslow Group are leading the way, says Hayes, the market is still maturing in the sustainability space. “As things evolve, we’ll see different solutions become more practical and applicable to different types of customers,” she says.

“We have drop-in solutions that are ready right now for customers looking to start their sustainability journey, such as biodiesel and renewable diesel, and we’re also working on solutions for future applications.

“These drop-in solutions are generally accepted by OEMs, but as always, owners should always check in with them before making the change.

“Winslow Group consulted with its OEMs in regard to transitioning items of plant and equipment to biodiesel, who were comfortable to give the green light.”

Both Viva Energy and Winslow Group are seeing a sustainability push from stakeholders from all levels of the supply and value chain. There’s still a way to go for the industry to make true inroads in reducing its emissions output, with conventional fuels still a requirement while infrastructure and technology evolves. But partnerships like that of Viva Energy and Winslow Group, bolstered by their collaborative approach, are setting a standard for what can be achieved by harnessing sustainable solutions today.

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