29 November 2001 | Robin Parker
Suppliers to seven major UK airports will be linked electronically by the middle of next year under plans by the British Airports Authority (BAA).
The authority has radically restructured purchasing over the past three years, reducing its suppliers from 26,000 to 1,500.
It has also introduced a central e-procurement system, developed with Oracle to offer what BAA claims is the largest online catalogue in Europe.
But the system still relied on communicating by fax, with only the largest supplier using electronic orders. BAA has now begun pilots of the Burns Business Exchange from business-to-business service provider Burns, which delivers requests electronically to a web-fronted mailbox for suppliers. It will automate all ordering and introduce electronic invoicing early next year.
The programme's 40 suppliers represent a cross-section of the supply base prior to a rapid roll-out of the system, said BAA supply chain director Tony Douglas. It would be an "aggressive roll-out", he added.
The system will be put to the test in the construction of the fifth terminal at Heathrow airport, approved by the government last week and which BAA plans to complete by 2007.