Bringing new life to old assets: The sustainable approach to reengineering our fleet

As the energy sector continues to transition towards a more environmentally sustainable future, our commitment to achieving carbon neutrality by 2030 is a top priority at Swire Energy Services.

With many assets across the world ageing, it is paramount that we are putting sustainable practices into place in order to extend their capabilities, instead of replacing them which is both environmentally and financially costly.

After joining SES as an Account Manager in 2013, Matt Nicoll progressed to Business Development Manager before taking on his current role as Commercial Manager for the UK. He is now responsible for all revenue generation across the country, heading up the sales and rental service part of the business and providing the direction and strategy for our business development.

In this blog post, Matt explains our sustainable approach to reengineering our fleet, with the 3 key benefits of refurbishing existing assets for our customers.

The 3 key benefits of reengineering our assets

“One way we are actively committing to sustainability when it comes to ageing assets is through redesign and refurbishment. SES have invested heavily in both the fleet itself and the maintenance infrastructure supporting the fleet. When there are assets on our rental fleet that are no longer in demand or popular with our customers, instead of disposing units and building new ones, we redesign, re-engineer and refurbish existing ones.

“We look at the existing designs in our rental fleet in the UK and our engineering team then creates a modification or enhancement using those designs, which can then be applied into the market effectively. Our engineering team can redesign, our operational team can make modifications using the fabrication division, we’ll then do a full refurbishment and full blast paint of the equipment at our state of the art refurbishment facility at Altens before it's delivered to customers.

“So they really do end up with a unit that is as new, and that presents a number of benefits for us, our customers and the environment…

1. Reduced environmental impact

“Replacing assets is a dreadful cycle to get into in terms of the CO2 impact of disposing metal and manufacturing new units. A comparison between the CO2 emissions of maintenance, transfer and manufacturing (based on 100 mini containers over a 10-year refurbishment cycle) showed that the total tonnes of CO2e were 27 for maintaining equipment, 49 for transfer and a massive 391 for brand new equipment. So, creating new units has an enormous carbon footprint associated and it’s crucial that we play our role in reducing that impact and opting for more sustainable methods.

“It may seem like making a few modifications to an older piece of equipment would have a small return compared to replacing it with a brand new asset, but our new approach delivers over 30% carbon reduction. When you actually start looking at the CO2 impact involved and what the quality of a finished refurbished product is, it would be a very strange business decision for us to push back on that.

“There’s a huge shift in the demands of our customers - as well as ourselves - when it comes to sustainable practices and reducing the environmental impact of what we do. What we're starting to see now is a massive interest in sustainability, and I think that’s going to continue to be an increasingly important factor for selecting vendors within the whole supply chain - regardless of where you fit into it. Our customers are very interested in looking at alternative practices that will help to reduce their carbon footprint, which we can provide through reengineering of old assets.

2. Significant cost savings

“A second benefit - and one that is on the mind of every company - is the cost of replacing an asset compared to refurbishing it. With the price of steel and other similar materials, it’s very expensive to completely replace an asset nowadays because those units are in high demand in the market.

“The UK sector is, from a rental perspective, is a very cost conscious market, so we have to be innovative and come up with other solutions. We are very focused on modification and refurbishment because of the financial savings it brings us - and ultimately passes down to our customers too so both parties are spending less money than if we completely replaced an asset.

“If we can spend less to modify a unit but complete it to the same standard as a brand new one, then it is absolutely in our customers’ interests from a rental perspective. From our perspective, it's probably 20% of the cost of a new unit, so that’s a huge difference in cost. By reengineering assets, we can do the modification to an exceptional standard and keep the costs much lower than a full replacement. Not only that, maintaining our equipment to this standard also means we’re able to extend the lifespan of assets, which reaps more cost savings for our clients in the long-run too.”

3. Evolving our equipment to meet customer’s needs

“Our ability to constantly evolve our fleet based on the changing requirements and needs of our customers is very important to us. We're a very dynamic business and what we exist to do is to solve our customers' problems, so we often supply slightly left field solutions.

“An example of that would be things like half height containers that are fixed at the sides. In 2019 we recognised that our clients would prefer units with removable sides to make loading and unloading easier. We've got 50 to 75 of those sitting in our fleet not being used, so we're completing a programme where our engineering team have devised a redesign that allows those units to be converted into ones with removable sides. What's key about this is it allows the unit to be loaded with a forklift rather than a crane, which gives our customers extra versatility.

“This process of reengineering our existing fleet is very much a two way process between us and our customers. Part of being a rental business like we are is that you don't always see exactly how your customers are using those units once they leave your facility, so it's imperative to get that feedback from all different levels on the problem and the design.”

At Swire Energy Services, our integrated maintenance and refurbishment services ensure the integrity of your equipment, with the highest quality asset solutions to support your supply chain.

Find out more and enquire about our maintenance programs: