Highways England is looking to work directly with its supply chain, skipping out tier one contractors, according to the road operator’s smart motorways director Shaun Pidcock.
Speaking at the latest NCE100 breakfast club event, Pidcock said that the highways operator wants to develop closer relationships with smaller contractors for its smart motoway programme.
He said that building direct relationships with tier two and three contractors will be key to improved productivity and increased innovation for its smart motorways programme.
“The platform we are looking at for the smart motorway’s alliance will pull our relationship with tier two and three contractors much closer and have strategic relationships with those key suppliers across the programme,” said Pidcock.
The highways operator is seeking six partners for its 10 year, £4.5bn smart motorways alliance, to create extra capacity and relieving congestion.
The alliance model is a change from the current strategy of procuring on a project by project basis.
Pidcock said that the benefits of lengthy planning efforts were being lost because smaller contractors are only brought into projects by tier ones and “mobilised late”. This could be avoided by bringing smaller contractors directly to the table.
“Despite years and years of planning of these projects and knowing they are going to happen, we let the contract at the end, usually late , just a few weeks before we start on site, and eventually [the tier ones] go out to the tier twos and mobilise as late as possible. So, we aren’t getting all the benefits we could get from the planning stage.
“All of this is about enabling productivity,” he added. “We see our future as integrated teams, getting those tier twos working at the top table adding the value and innovation we know they bring. We are looking for partners to help us build the future.”
Bidding to be part of the alliance opened in December 2018.
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