Industry interview: Implementing a collaborative strategy
With access to worldwide technical expertise and an extensive portfolio of products, Saint-Gobain PAM UK is able to combine the benefits of being part of a global organisation with the ability to develop solutions to satisfy local requirements. Their Regional Sales Manager Nic Crooks explains their collaborative strategy to innovation and product development.
Q. What are the biggest challenges facing the highways sector?
A. “As a manufacturer we recognise that our industry faces several challenges, we therefore focus on innovation and collaboration which leads us to be able to meet with customers desired outcomes. We need to understand what you are trying to fix, what you need to accomplish and ideally what we need to avoid. We have several examples whereby we have aligned our capabilities to the point of creating exceptional value in reducing whole life costs.”
Q. In what ways has Covid-19 had an impact on repair and maintenance activities in the sector?
A. “It is apparent to everyone that since the pandemic we have seen unprecedented issues in escalating cost of materials, product availability, challenging logistics capabilities, etc. However, as we are a UK manufacturer it is evident that we are best placed to overcome such challenges and to remain able to deliver product solutions that provide longevity of performance and customer service in order to meet with your requirements.”
Q. What are your key drivers for innovation?
A. “Like many other companies we have often been guilty of designing products and services which we believed are a good idea. Once developed, these ideas have been taken to customers in the hope and expectation that they will commit. In recent years however our approach has changed – we now involve the customer from the outset by understanding their needs and aligning our capabilities to the point of developing a product that we know meets with their requirements.”
Q. In what ways do you collaborate with local authorities and the wider supply chain?
A. “We collaborate with local authorities and the wider supply chain on a whole range of issues to include standards, specifications, product and service innovations, logistic solutions, EHS issues, etc – all leading to the adoption of the best practice approach. We are a completely agile in facilitating specific needs, and wider stakeholder engagement, which could include meeting in groups or with individuals, for example we developed our new slim line Proteus grating (figure 1, below) with local authorities to specifically to solve recurrent grating failures due to “clipping” (drivers driving over the edge of the grating), thus driving down the cost of routine and planned maintenance whilst reducing driver disruption.”
Q. In terms of funding for roads, what do you think works well and what needs to be improved?
A. “With our focus being on value creation we would expect that this would have a positive impact on funding through the adoption of a right first time approach.”
Q. How important is the role of LCRIG in driving change within the sector?
A. “If it gets measured it gets done” is a well-known saying. As associate members of the LCRIG organisation it would be really great to understand how LCRIG are measuring their impact and influence on local authorities and then to understand how we as members can continue to contribute toward that end?”
The Government is being urged to ensure guidelines for future Mobility as a Service solutions have standardised approaches to collaboration, avoid being prescriptive on modes and insist on mandatory data sharing.