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Contracting: Supply chain excellence

Five supply chain firms were recognised for excellence in supply chain delivery at the inaugural Infrastructure 21 Awards event. 

Infrastructure 21

Winner - VGC


Winner: VGC picked up the training award

VGC won the award for training at the Infrastructure 21 event in recognition for the way it continued to invest in its sta ff, even in challenging trading conditions.

As well as being one of the largest labour and staff suppliers to the UK’s construction and rail industries, the company also undertakes rail and construction contracts itself.

Working for Morgan Sindall, the company provided apprenticeship opportunities on the Whitechapel Crossrail project and on rail projects across London and Kent, with a further two apprentices taken on at their head office that led to permanent roles.

The company’s apprenticeship programme covers NVQ level 2 & 3 placements in various industry-related activities including general construction operations, track maintenance and engineering, and general business administration.

“We have more than 50 apprentices across VGC, including three on Whitechapel Crossrail, three in East Kent on the re-signalling project, and 44 on the London Underground infrastructure,” says VGC HR manager Laura Perry.

Even though the company employs fewer than 1,000 staff, it has invested a substantial proportion of its income on training. In 2014 it spent a total of £320,000 and supported people to attend 2,767 job-specific training courses. In the first six months of 2015, the company has spent £152,000 on training.

This commitment to training was also recognised by the National Skills Academy for Railway Engineering (NSARE) when its inspection report labelled VGC’s training provision ‘Outstanding’.


Winner - Keller

Infrastructure 21

Steve Worthington, managing director, Keller, receives his award from Michele Dix, managing director, Crossrail 2

Taylor Woodrow nominated Keller Ground Engineering for the Infrastructure 21 Innovation Award for the work the company did on the London Victoria ­Station Upgrade.

Keller carried out one of Europe’s largest ever jet grouting schemes as part of the £700M Transport for London project to upgrade the busy London Underground Station.

The company was commended by Taylor Woodrow for its input into complex 3D models of the underground space. In a series of geotechnical engineering firsts, the firm used Building Information Modelling (BIM) to model complicated jet grout column locations and orientations in 3D. Precise borehole surveys were then carried out to verify the jet grout column positions.

“The use of a BIM model meant that an accurate picture of services and tunnels was known and by using thermal absorption methods we knew just how big our columns were,” says Keller business development director, Derek Taylor.

By having such accurate knowledge of exactly where the ground had been treated, the tunneling team was able to know in advance about any areas of ground that had not been treated. The information was made available to them on tablet computers and made for a major safety advance as they were able to accurately identify where in the heading they might encounter untreated soil.

Health, safety and wellbeing

Winner – J McCann

Infrastructure 21

Carl Lancaster, operations director, J McCann, receives his award from Nirmal Kotecha, UK Power Networks

J McCann demonstrated excellence in health, safety and wellbeing during its work to support Morgan Sindall in a number of recent smart and managed motorway projects.

Throughout these projects McCann employees were actively involved in project health & safety workshops and took part in occupational health medicals for their staff.

Two of the company’s employees joined the Bam Nuttall/Morgan Sindall JVs (BMJV) weekly View of Operatives in the Construction Environment (VOICE) meetings to provide insight on issues faced on the ground during the project, with their feedback helping to raise standards on the projects.

“The VOICE meetings were held with BMJV’s safety team and it was an open forum. No management from subcontractors or our client attended and therefore the guys could speak freely without worrying about repercussions from others on site which can be a common problem on construction sites,” says J McCann & Co operations director, Carl Lancaster.

“This meant all issues were highlighted and improvements could be made to avoid further possible problems.”
McCann took their learning from their work with Morgan Sindall on the M62 to their next job at Heathrow airport, earning the company two successive Gold health & safety awards in the process.

The success of the health and safety scheme is borne out by J McCann & Co’s health and safety statistics. Between 2012 and 2013, when the scheme was first implemented, it’s incident rate fell from 33.20 to 8.57 and, as of today, the company still has a zero accident frequency rate.


Winner - Collaborative – Procurement Working Group

Infrastructure 21

St Gobain’s innovative access cover

The Collaborative Procurement Working Group was established by the Highways Agency (now Highways England) and its four Delivery Partners - Balfour Beatty, Carillion, Morgan Sindall, Bam Nuttall (JV), and Costain.

At the outset the Working Group committed to deliver cost efficiencies across the Major Projects Roads Programme. The delivery partners collaboratively procured common goods and services across almost all Managed Motorway projects in the Major Projects Roads Programme. This has involved collaboration with supply partners including Asset

International, Polypipe and Saint Gobain - in line with the principles of BS 11000.

This approach helped to achieve considerable cost reductions while also allowing collaboration on new product development to improve health & safety, sustainability and programme savings.

A case in point was the development of an access cover to prevent cable theft on stretches of major highways. Manufacturer St Gobain came together with the other member of the working group to design an access cover with a unique lock key that reduced the incidents of theft and vandalism, and reduced the amount of time and cost spent replacing access covers and cables.

“This product has been created specifically for the Highways Industry, and is a great example of how collaboration between suppliers and companies can really make a difference, not only in terms of the reduction of costs, but also from an innovation and best practice point of view,” says Saint-Gobain national key account manager Gary Postle.

Business Excellence

Winner - Speedy Hire


Speedy’s self-service ‘EPOD’ hire portal

Speedy Hire was nominated for the Business Excellence Award because the judges felt it provided services that were deemed to make it easy to do business with.

The company was lauded for its centralised system for compliance testing and health & safety a nd its consistent and transparent reporting using monthly dashboards and live hire reporting.

Morgan Sindall reported that Speedy’s adoption of lean approaches has reduced lost time and delays to just 1 per cent against an industry average of 7 per cent. 

The company’s development of the unmanned, self-service ‘EPOD’ hire portal and the ‘FPOD’ refuelling point, which allows for around- the-clock access, was also commended for helping to increase productivity and for offering time and cost savings.


Winner - D-Drill


D-Drill has been in business for 40 years

Based in Coventry for more than 40 years, D-Drill is an outstanding example of strong leadership in the supply chain. Since 2008 the business, which specialises in diamond drilling, has been run by managing director Julie White. During this period it has grown to more than 100 staff delivering up to 750 jobs a month for 5,000 different contractors, while continuing to invest in sector-leading training and innovation.

Julie, pictured above with Crossail’s Terry Morgan, not only provides strong leadership for the business, but is also a powerful advocate for the industry, as a board member of the

Drilling & Sawing Association and a past chair of the National Specialist Contractors Council. White believes that for leaders to effectively run a business, they have to put themselves in the shoes of the people they manage.

“I have put myself through the same apprenticeship content that our drillers and sawers go through,” she says.



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