20 May 2011 | Lindsay Clark
The UK rail industry needs to improve its procurement skills
in order to reduce inefficiencies in the supply chain.
A government-backed independent report has shown the UK rail
sector is up to 40 per cent less efficient than its European counterparts,
partly because of a lack of supply chain management skills.
The rail value for money study, chaired by Sir Roy McNulty, and out yesterday recommends a programme of
training, secondments and professional development at all levels of the
industry to improve skills. “This
should include a basic introduction to supply chain management at all levels to
improve industry awareness, and the long-term development of a core of supply
chain managers to become the procurement leaders of the future,” the report said.
Current approaches to planning and procurement in the rail
industry can cause stop-start demand for rolling stock and infrastructure. “The
provision of greater clarity of projected demand will enable the supply
industry to resource appropriately and to avoid the peaks and troughs in demand
that have resulted in cost inflation and inflexibility to meet emerging
demand,” the report said.
The report also encourages greater supply chain
collaboration, which should enable more reliable demand forecasting.
Meanwhile, suppliers also face difficulties entering the
market. Gaining recognition as an established and “approved” supplier is seen
as a barrier to entering the rail sector by many vendors. The report recommends
accelerating the introduction of a supplier assurance framework.