Scaling up excellence within the supply chain

Source: Rail Technology Magazine Aug/Sept 2014

Do you feel your organisation has a good reputation for project delivery? Are you used to reacting to a crisis and going the extra mile? That is great, but it can be exhausting! It is certainly not sustainable in the long-term. Can you influence change, or do things differently to achieve better outcomes? Perhaps it is time to review and rebalance your resources, competences and energy to create a sustainable, long-term, effective supply chain strategy. Chris Williams-Lilley of Rail Champions makes his case.

With over £37bn of rail contracts to be delivered over the next five years, companies must conduct a health check on their business to ensure they remain competitive, and can demonstrate effective management of customers, suppliers and external collaborator relationships.

The time has come for lean and agile suppliers (large or small) to challenge some of the biggest names in the construction industry. Successful organisations have reputations and cultures based on transparency, trust and value creation. It is clear some SMEs have already won favour within Network Rail, and Transport for London (and London Underground), with multi-million pound contracts placed on the Southern Frameworks, MAFA and Stake.

The rise of the super-contractor

Some tier 2 contractors are now leading major project delivery, so it is essential their supply chain partners understand their goals and how to meet their clients’ key objectives. Previously, the holy grail of project management was simply delivering on time and to budget. We are now faced with three new models of procurement in the construction industry, all designed to procure new infrastructure for less.

The key objective is to offer some cost certainty, which delivers better value in the medium- to long-term future of the construction industry (to which the rail industry contributes).

It is quite reasonable to consider the whole construction industry as being poised to undergo a major overhaul, with the emergence of new global ‘super-contractors’. This comes at a time when many constructors are either consolidating resources, moving out of the rail sector completely, or focusing on core competences. We must also remember the main focus of many organisations over the next 12-18 months may be to repair balance sheets after weathering the storm of a prolonged global recession. Leaders are under pressure to develop increased value and maintain profitable growth.

Looking to the future

A key principle underpinning the government’s sector approach is to back those sectors that are likely to have prospects for success in the future, in terms of generating increased value-add and employment in the UK economy. In this respect, it is important to consider the key economic, social (and wider) drivers of growth and their relevance to the rail industry’s potential over the next decade.

The main drivers are likely to be:

• Aligning objectives of Network Rail and the train operating companies;

• Cutting costs and changes in patterns of demand;

• Changing business practices and new technology;

• Opportunities for job creation and skills development;

• Increasing demand for environmental products, processes and standards.

Rail Champions, with its partners, has developed game-changing strategies that you need to know and that will help you navigate this complex landscape over time. We can help you develop a roadmap and give you the compass to master 21st-century supply chain management.

Strategic intent

By the time this edition of Rail Technology Magazine goes to press, we will have held yet another industry ‘VIP Round Table Discussion’ with our partners from CH2M Hill and the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and co-sponsored by VVB Engineering Limited. The latest session covers ‘effective cost planning’ – with support from ‘enlightened’ policy makers and commissioners including: Martin Rowak (director, TfL); David Hawkins (director, Institute for Collaborative Working); Sean McCarthy OBE (director, Action Sustainability); Stephen Blakey (commercial projects director, Network Rail); and Denise Bower (director, Major Projects Association). The output from the session will be available via RICS and repeated on our website in the coming months.

Business enhancement

As always, Rail Champions is on hand at any time to support a specific development area, should you need it. Whether your focus is on collaboration, lean supply chain development or sustainability, our team has over 40 years’ combined experience on some of the UK’s largest infrastructure projects. We will work with you to identify a growth strategy that meets your current and future requirements.

From experience, it is better to solve business-critical issues before they happen, and problems often represent the biggest opportunities for SMEs.

Why not join us at this year’s Supply Chain Forum and start making your customers even more successful. Reserve your place now, whilst there are still tickets available.

Get Twitter updates by following:

@RailChampions and @EventsRailPro or use #SCFLondon

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


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