Delivering the practical benefits of partnering

Published:  19 March, 2005

Elements of partnering — the COMPASSure scheme is based on elemental building packages supplied on a supply-and-fix basis by pre-assembled supply-chain modules.

The Construction Manufacturers Partnering Association (COMPASS) is moving on with it pioneering programme to more efficiently integrate suppliers and sub-contractors into the construction process. ALAN KENNEDY reports on progress.

The COMPASSure risk-management system is designed to negate risk and encourage best practice and best value by creating virtually seamless integration amongst component manufacturers, system suppliers and sub-contractors. This is the segment of the construction supply chain that accounts for around 75% of the total value-added and where the most benefit from collaborative working — one aspect of partnering — can be gained.

Client key

COMPASSure links suppliers and specialist contractors through the binding provisions of a unique supply-and-fix insurance policy developed to underpin the scheme. Elemental building packages are supplied on a supply-and-fix basis by pre-assembled supply-chain modules and the ultimate client, i.e. owner/operator, is issued with a long-term guarantee providing categoric assurance that a quality solution has been installed by a competent contractor.

The final client holds the key to the success of the scheme. A client that does not understand how the scheme works and the benefits it brings is hardly likely to insist on COMPASSure solutions. For this reason COMPASS has spent the past few months educating prominent end-user clients and persuading them to commit to the COMPASSure risk controlled procurement process.

The resulting nucleus of COMPASSure client ‘champions’ is the first step towards much wider industry adoption. The COMPASSure champions are sizeable, respected, organisations that are already committed to supply-chain integration and see COMPASSure as a means of completing the integration loop — i.e. positively engaging with manufacturers and sub-contractors without being exposed to unacceptable risk, cost or time penalties. One or two champions from each of the main client sectors are making the initial group as representative of the overall market as possible:

• public utilities;

• local authorities;

• central-government clients;

• private sector clients;

• housing associations/RSLs;

• property developers.

Progressive main contractors also have an instrumental role to play in the adoption and implementation of the COMPASSure procurement process and are also being targeted.

Champions league

Two COMPASSure champion events were held in late 2004 to engage those clients and main contractors that have expressed a strong interest in the scheme. More than 50 organisations attended the events including Anglian Water, Skanska, Midsummer HA, NHS Procure 21, Kier Group, Taylor Woodrow, Bedfordshire Pilgrims HA, Clugston Construction, Riverside HA, Welsh Water and ICI. There were also representatives from the Department of Trade & Industry, Constructing Excellence and the Construction Clients’ Group

The conferences were held to allow the various COMPASSure champion organisations to share views, compare tactics and explore the scope for mutuality prior to embarking on this groundbreaking supply-chain project. Among the speakers were Rudi Klein from the SECG, David Greenwood from Northumbria University, Tony Brown from Bucknall Austin and Jonathon Clements from Corus Kalzip.

David Wilson of COMPASS has declared the Champion events a great success and clearly demonstrating the pressing need for supply chain-reform that is both risk negating and deliverable: ‘COMPASSure takes the reform process right down to the sub-contractor/supplier level, a segment that accounts for around two-thirds of the total cost of construction but one which has been largely overlooked by a reform movement obsessed with quick-fix solutions.’

Magic bullet

In January 2005 a COMPASSure meeting was held with a group of key central-government clients, including senior representatives from NHS Procure 21, Highways Agency, Fusion 21 and Network Rail together with representatives from the National Audit Office and the Office of Government Commerce. One of the purposes was to demonstrate to major Government construction clients how COMPASSure can make a substantial contribution to the procurement efficiency objectives set out in the Government’s 2004 spending review.

David Wilson explains the importance of this meeting: ‘Between them the main central-government departments account for well over £10 billion of construction spend per annum. Better construction procurement has been identified as a key factor in achieving the Government’s efficiency targets, and COMPASSure certainly has the “magic bullet” potential to deliver on this. Using COMPASSure pre-assembled supply-chain modules, capital-cost savings of 30% plus have been shown to be readily achievable, in addition to significant quality and whole-life savings.’

Capability

Along with COMPASSure Champions, COMPASS has put together a schedule, known as the ‘COMPASSure capability profile’ (CCP) containing those key supply-and-fix packages that are deemed necessary to ensure the scheme’s viability.

The construction elements in the CCP are the 20% of structural, building envelope, internal fit-out, M & E, groundworks and external works that represent 80% of the recurring construction spend of the champion group. It thus concentrates on areas offering clients the most potential for cost, value and performance improvement.

Infrastructure

COMPASSure requires very high of commitment and co-ordination amongst its participants. To ease its adoption, much effort has gone into establishing the necessary support structure.

The scheme’s infrastructure includes the independent approved system assessors and approved system inspectors who conduct COMPASSure system assessments and site audits, respectively. In addition, consultant Bucknall Austin has been appointed official COMPASSure client-support partner to assist construction clients in embracing the COMPASSure philosophy.

Bucknall Austin partner Tony Brown says, ‘It is essential that COMPASSure becomes an integral part of a client’s supply-chain strategy. To gain maximum advantage, the client must embed COMPASSure within its existing and planned procurement, management and contractual arrangements.’

At the supply end of the programme a national network of independent COMPASSure supply-chain facilitators has been put in place to assist potential COMPASSure system providers set up the necessary relationships with installers and approved key-component suppliers.

If your company is interested in becoming a COMPASSure-registered system visit the web site below or telephone COMPASS.

Alan Kennedy is executive secretary of COMPASS (Construction Manufacturers Partnering Association), The Stables, Hazel Grove, Yealand Redmayne, Lancaster LA5 9RW.
Tel. 01524 782830
info@team-compass.org



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