Around 200 delegates were left in no doubt as to Ringway's commitment to partnership and best practise after its supply chain conference, held in Slough and attended by staff, clients and members of Ringway’s key suppliers and preferred subcontractors.
Demonstrating this approach, John Hobbs, Director of Environmental Services of Worcestershire County Council, with Ringway colleagues Brian Moss, Regional Director, and Rob Gillespie, Divisional Director, discussed the huge cultural shift in clients needs and expectations and the way live contracts work. The move away from a confrontational approach and the need to deliver within the Gershon review (and its successor CSR 07) has produced a working ethos where all partners need to work towards common goals, using shared resources with flexibility. The more planned the work and less reactive the service, the more efficient the delivery can be. By co-locating teams and altering the staff delivery organisation to be a truly integrated structure has resulted in the partners being able to focus on value rather than cost..
Worcestershire and Ringway now operate a fully integrated staff structure in the County and this has resulted in a 50% increase in the productivity of reactive maintenance, and more works being shifted into the planned maintenance programme. The savings resulting from this will be invested in more planned maintenance next year which will, in turn, lead to less defects being reported. Recognising that the ultimate clients are the public has also concentrated efforts to ensure that everyone understands the need for openness, predictability of time, and predictability of cost. Measurement of delivery success is increasingly based on customer perception.
Meanwhile in Kent, Geoff Harrison-Mee of Kent County Council and his Ringway colleague Jerry Pert commented, the Council is facing a number of huge challenges. The Traffic Management Act, targets in congestion and pollution, peaktime road charging on town centre though-routes, corporate manslaughter legislation, the commitment to maintain the public assets and the ability to train and retain quality staff all factor into the Council's approach. The solution is to work with its supplier as a 'virtual company', where all partners are equal and able to contribute opinion without fear of criticism. In this way, best practise can be constantly generated and propagated.
For instance, the outdated method of the client demanding works orders it has compiled to be completed in the sequence it states has been proved as wasteful of resources and expertise. Instead, inspections are recorded using a GIS-enabled, handheld device which automatically produce works orders, which are compiled and clustered in the most productive completion sequence by the maintenance contractor. While the 'virtual company' in Kent is making great progress, it acknowledges the size of the task it still faces. Around 30,000 soakaways and innumerable gullies across the county were not recorded when they were built or subsequently. Part of work of the maintenance gangs is to log the unmapped features as they find and service them.
Further presentations on plant and vehicle resources, health and safety, environment, and procurement involving supply chain partners including Clee Hill and Nynas Bitumen all consolidated the message in the summary of Scott Wardrop, Managing Director of Ringway Group: "Every point in the supply chain is working towards effective knowledge transfer, real leadership, building open relationships and sharing experience to consistently add value and most importantly, improve things."