As we head into 2022, now’s the perfect time for companies working in the quarrying and aggregates sector to think about making new year’s resolutions relating to decarbonisation. For those companies yet to gear themselves up to look at how they can meet the Government’s net zero targets by 2050, Ross Hayward, Head of Assets and Commercial at Chepstow Plant International (CPI), says it’s never too late to start.
Ross says: “With the clock ticking, pressure is starting to really mount on companies to make positive and proactive changes to their business models now in order to become carbon neutral and meet these ambitious targets. No matter the size and scale of company, many – including Chepstow Plant International – are only part way through the journey of reaching net zero. However, there’s no time like the present to start sharing experiences to empower others to join the decarbonisation revolution.”
Here Ross provides his top five tips for driving forward the decarbonisation agenda in 2022 for those companies yet to get on track.
1. Work out what your carbon footprint is
For those readying to embrace decarbonisation, one of the biggest challenges companies in the quarrying and aggregates sector face is simply knowing where to begin. It’s really all about going back to basics. That means having some concept and understanding of what your carbon footprint actually is and what needs to be reduced.
Looking at your fleet is a great place to start. Whilst OEMs and telemetry data is available for more recent machines, data won’t be available for older assets and this is often part of the problem. What’s more, carbon dioxide (C02) is frequently talked about, but according to scientists, nitrous oxide is about 300 times as potent as C02 at heating the atmosphere. This means that companies don’t just need to understand what fuel they’re burning. They also need to measure what pollutants they are creating. With that in mind, if there’s no concept of your output, how can a management team work out how to improve it?
2. Gap Analysis: What data don't you have?Next, it’s important for management teams to take time to analyse the data – once you’ve established where you need to get to, it makes it easier to determine how you’re going to get there. Work out what data you need to track, what you’re missing and find a way to plug that gap. There are so many variables that can be studied, so it’s equally important to decide on what your key metrics will be. For instance, is it looking at bench-marking operators on their fuel burn or efficiency across different sites or material types? Will there be a focus on machine type, size, or brand? These starting points can then establish your data gaps, whether it’s physical information from site or lack of telemetry.
3. Look beyond the unconventional
When it comes to investing in plant machinery, don’t fall into the trap of being too focused on Day One costs. When it comes to investing in plant assets, it can often be tempting for procurement teams to save money by going for the cheapest vehicle, but this is short-termism and missing a trick. Given this should be viewed as a significant long-term investment, decision-making shouldn’t purely be focused on that initial outlay. Procurement should also be looking at the sustainability of the vehicle and all that comes with that – from fuel efficiency to wider environmental benefits. The cheapest vehicle may actually cost you more in the long run. For instance, hydrostatic or electric drivetrains might be more expensive, but over a 4–5-year period, the fuel burn savings can often more than cover the initial uplift in the purchase price.
4. Bring the workforce with you on the decarb journey
Management need to ensure that they bring the workforce on board with decarbonisation initiatives from the off. Naturally, staff will be based across multiple sites, often operating machinery rather than having time to read the latest company memos on email. It’s vital that management consider how best to distil information around the decarbonisation drive to ensure this translates both to managers and operators in an easily digestible way.
Being able to take the workforce on the decarbonisation journey is essential, so think about how you can introduce key messaging when upskilling labour through training initiatives, help them understand why you’re making improvements and actively show them how they can make a difference by changing the way you do things.
5. Don't forget the easy wins
Remember, achieving net zero isn’t something that will happen overnight. However, there are some easy quick wins that businesses should already be implementing. It’s the little things that all add up to reducing your carbon footprint - from switching from diesel to electric vehicles, selecting a green energy supplier or simply reminding your teams not to leave lights on.
For a little closer to our industry, the easy wins involve us looking at our asset idling time and by extension our unproductive hours. It’s then looking at the driver behaviour and how it impacts on fuel burn and production. For instance, look at the engine mode selection on excavators. Finally, check on the current site fleet pairings – are these currently optimal? Is the excavator over or under-sized? Are trucks taking too long to be loaded or are they being continuously overloaded? All of these factors may point to looking at changing the site set-up.
At Chepstow Plant International, we’re investing heavily in our fleet, technology and overall business so that we’re able to reach our ambitious net zero targets. This continual investment and improvement approach also enables us to ensure that we can support all our clients in achieving their own net zero goals. If you’re daunted and not sure where to begin, we’re here to help so get in touch to find out more.
By Ross Hayward
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