28 November 2002 | Liam O'Brien
Civil engineering firms and other building contractors should sign a best-practice charter in an effort to improve deteriorating supply chain relationships, according to a major study.
The Civil Engineering Contractors' Association (CECA) said in its report, Supply Chain Relationships in the Civil Engineering Industry, that adversarial relations continue to plague the sector despite attempts to improve procurement.
The survey of contractors noted that continuing mistrust, rivalry and failure to pass sufficient margin down the chain was restricting the introduction of new methods of procurement.
The report questions how far partnering - called for in the seminal reports Constructing the Team by Sir Michael Latham in 1994 and Rethinking Construction in 1998 by Sir John Egan - has been taken up in the sector.
The CECA is to launch a relationship charter setting out standards of behaviour and practice. Its aims include the creation of longer-term relationships and an environment of trust, and incentives for creative solutions and improving profit margins.
Jim Turner, the report's author and economic adviser to the CECA, told SM: "The talk of partnering envisaged in the 1994 and 1998 reports is taking longer than anticipated.
"The reason is that it asks clients and contractors to step on to a pretty steep learning curve. We didn't realise how steep that curve was."