Report calls for future leaders in rail procurement

20 May 2011

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.

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