Prime Mover Magazine


Vawdrey Australia goes solar

  • From the March 2016 issue.
Vawdrey Australia goes solar

As part of its long-term plan of becoming a carbon-neutral business, Vawdrey Australia has invested in a substantial new industrial rooftop solar-energy system.

Maintaining its position as one of Australia’s premier trailer manufacturing brands is a high priority for Vawdrey Australia – both from a manufacturing and an evironmental perspective. While the company’s comprehensive range of trailers has become an almost unmissable sight on Australian roads, however, its ‘green performance’ may quickly go unnoticed in every day life.

That could be about to change, according to National Sales Director, Paul Vawdrey, who has recently overseen the installation of a new, industrial scale solar energy system at the company’s Dandenong facility in Victoria.

According to Paul, his father, company founder Mick Vawdrey, has always been equally driven by achieving business success as by creating a carbon-neutral business, so moving to solar power was only a question of time. “It’s always been Mick’s goal to lessen our impact on the environment by significantly reducing our carbon footprint,” he explains. “Now we are in a position to turn his vision into reality and save costs at the same time.”

In January 2016, Paul says Vawdrey took a major step towards realising Mick’s vision when it flicked the switch on its new, large-scale rooftop solar energy system.

According to Paul, the new 750-kilowatt energy system, which has been installed across Vawdrey’s 15,000m² main factory, as well as its repair shop and panel building facilities, will allow the company to generate its own electricity and thereby dramatically reduce carbon emissions. “It’s great to see my father’s goals finally being achieved. But that’s just one aspect of the project, as we believe it will also give us a huge advantage over our competitors in reducing emissions and our overall environmental impact, which is such an important consideration for any large-scale manufacturing business these days.”

The job of installing the 3,000-plus solar panels was tasked to Western Australian company Sun Connect. According to the solar panel specialist, discussions with Vawdrey started as far back as June 2015 to ensure every detail was considered. “Mick Vawdrey has a strong position on environmental performance, and we could tell from the moment we sat down with him that he was passionate about making a difference,” says Mark Tuke, founder and Director of Sun Connect – revealing the installation started in late October and took three months to complete.

“The system collects the sun during daylight hours and converts the DC energy absorbed into AC current, which is immediately fed to inverters and then dispersed across to the Vawdrey buildings,” he explains, adding that Sun Connect imports its solar energy components from suppliers in Germany, Italy and China and takes care of all the design work, testing, permits and even applications for federally legislated grants prior to the installation of the panels.

Only two months after connecting to the grid, Paul says the financial benefits are already notable, with reduced electricity costs and network charges adding to the reduction in carbon emissions. “We can already see savings on our power bills,” he notes. “Over the next five years, we’ll quickly see a major Return On Investment.”

According to Paul, the Sun Connect solar-powered panels boast a minimum 25-year service life, which includes full maintenance and backup service warranty for the first seven years, so it should be a fit-and-forget solution for the family business.

“Mick sees the system as a long-term investment for our business, which will eventually pay for itself,” he says. “It’s testament to his larger vision for the Vawdrey business and the Australian transport equipment industry in general. He definitely doesn’t just sees us as trailer builders, but also considers our responsibility as a local leader to drive innovation and keep the industry clean and green.”

He adds, “Our solar energy system now makes for one of the largest solar-powered systems ever built in Victoria, which is an enormous statement in that regard and should not be underestimated. In the long run, technology like this will not only help modernise Vawdrey Australia, but help the entire industry improve and evolve on every level.”

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