Dedicated to a cleaner environment

Billy Bowie works tirelessly to optimise its processes, so that the leading waste management services provider operates in the most environmentally-friendly way possible

In 1991, Billy Bowie started his company with only one vehicle – a Ford D-Series tanker. Twenty-eight years and millions of pounds of investment later, Billy Bowie Special Projects is one of the biggest and best waste management service providers in the UK. Currently, the company’s fleet is made up of more than 140 commercial vehicles and 80 trailers, including vacuum tankers from 10 m³ to 33 m³, DISAB vacuum loaders, JHL Flexline jet vac units, Simon Moos dewatering units, walking floor trailers, hook loaders, and chain lift skip vehicles.

Alongside its main depot located in Kilmarnock, Billy Bowie has three more operating facilities – in Widnes (Cheshire), Leeds (North Yorkshire), and Ecclesfield (South Yorkshire), whence it offers its range of waste management services pertaining to domestic septic tank desludging, haulage of non-hazardous liquid waste, as well as dry and wet waste services. “We also have a transfer station facility at our head office in Kilmarnock and we provide our services to domestic customers, local authorities, major utilities, and multinational blue-chip companies,” Operations Director, Alisdair Clark points out.

Septic tank desludging is provided for domestic households with private septic tanks throughout the UK. The flexible 24/7/365 service allows for scheduled, unscheduled and urgent response call-out for septic tank requirements, with desludging usually taking place within 24 hours of request. Billy Bowie also works with major hotel chains in Scotland to assess and service their waste management needs. Following the clean of a septic tank, the waste is transported to a licenced treatment facility for further processing.

As part of its dry waste services, Billy Bowie offers comprehensive container supply and transportation, using demountables, slave tanks, and commercial skips suitable for sand removal, digesters, grit, and solids up to 225mm in size. Alisdair makes a note that through its transfer facility, the company can separate all dry waste, thus making the discarding process more environmentally-friendly and allowing for recycling of particular materials to occur. “The transfer station is where we bring all dry materials such as wood, brick, and rubble, and we separate it all through a picking line. The waste is then put onto a moving conveyor belt where dust and soil are separated, before the staff on the picking line pick out wood, brick, metal, glass and other solid items and separate it all into specific containers. Paper and cardboard are graded and baled ready for safe distribution to mills, while timber is graded and shredded into wood shavings. These wood shavings have many uses such as feedstock for the on-site in-vessel composting facility or they can be used for chipboard manufacture. Zero waste to landfill is a big topic in Scotland at the moment and we are trying to send as little to landfill as possible.”

Assorted vehicle units
Billy Bowie also handles wet waste, described by Alisdair as “any non-hazardous liquids, such as wastewater from landfill sites, which is taken away for treatment and disposal.” In fact, one of the company’s major contracts is for its wet waste management services. “We work with FCC Environment, which is one of the country’s biggest landfill and recycling operators and we are their sole contractor for removing all of their wet waste,” Alisdair explains.

Investment in different types of vehicle units has also helped Billy Bowie diversify its proposition, allowing it to take on various specialist service projects. “We used to deliver only specialist tanker services at the beginning, but we do so many other things now that we can undertake all sorts of projects. For example, we can do demolition works or we can offer vacuum excavation where we dig up the ground without using buckets or shovels, so that we can protect any delicate pipework or cables whose position underground is unknown,” Alisdair maintains.

“Utilising machines like the DISAB vacuum loaders and the JHL Flexlines, in particular, have broadened our skills significantly. We currently have six DISAB units across the country, which enable vacuum tankers to operate using long hoses for difficult to reach areas and remote locations to be accessed and serviced successfully,” he continues. “You can lay out half a mile of hose and they will suck it up. Out in the country, we have some septic tanks that are totally inaccessible. You may have to lay out up to 300 metres of hose to get to them. They are also used on industrial plants where you may not have access inside, so the hose has to go in with the machine sitting outside.”

Fleet renewal
All of Billy Bowie’s units make use of Euro 5 & 6 engines and energy-saving technology, highlighting the company’s commitment to improving its environmental credentials, lowering its carbon footprint, and reducing the amount of fuel it uses. “Our comprehensive environmental policy is accredited with ISO 14001:2015 and in 2009, we became the first company in Scotland to win the ‘Environmental Haulier of the Year’ award presented by The Scottish Transport News. We proudly display it in our head office reception, together with our company slogan ‘Dedicated to a Cleaner Environment’, which also features on every one of our trucks,” Alisdair notes.

“We have introduced a fleet renewal policy, which sees the bulk of our fleet replaced every five to six years, to keep ourselves at the forefront of environmental efficiency. In addition, we instil the ethos of environmental awareness in our staff, too,” he adds. “For instance, eco-driving skills are taught as standard. We educate drivers on fuel-efficient driving techniques and we employed an in-house driver trainer, with a view to reduce fuel usage and our overall carbon footprint.”

Billy Bowie also relies on digital technology to monitor its fuel use and reduce it, where possible. “Unfortunately, we use a lot of fuel, because many of our vacuum tankers are PTO-driven, so we need to have the engine running in the truck while we are running the units,” Alisdair says. “The ‘artics’ are fitted with a tracking system that tells us if the truck is idling and if it is, it also tells us whether the PTO is engaged or not. In a case when the truck is in an idle state and not having its PTO engaged, we can contact the driver and get it switched off. Furthermore, our vehicles have modern manufacturer-fitted systems that also monitor idle time and driving efficiency to make further savings. As a result of their operation, we have seen an improvement of about five per cent in fuel efficiency.”

For Billy Bowie, its employees are true ambassadors for the company. In recognition of their hard work and effort, it takes good care of the workforce, running a series of internal training programmes on topics like environmental awareness and health and safety. What is more, the service provider is also working closely with the Glasgow Training Group to roll out Driver CPC courses throughout the business to ensure that all drivers are kept fully compliant.

Maintaining a partnership approach in its customer relations is a clear characteristic of Billy Bowie. In order to ensure its efficient continuation, the company conducts regular meetings to discuss all areas of the business. For the parties’ mutual benefit, all drivers are now provided with incident forms to report any accidents or near-misses that may occur, and this information is provided to the client in a monthly report. To complement this, thanks to vehicle tracking, drivers’ location can be identified and shared with customers at any time. These are just two examples, which demonstrate clearly that, for Billy Bowie, supporting its clients in their own activities is priority number one.

Billy Bowie
Services: Waste management services