Suppliers to rail can be part of something bigger
Britain’s railways rank among the safest in the world. Ensuring we maintain that track record partly rests on us being able to manage the risk in the supply chain.
The next five years are set to be a transformative time for rail – and we need to make sure the supply chain can do business with rail unhindered, but also safely.
Major investment and key projects are poised to start. True, there has been the distraction of a running debate about fixing the way the railway operates, epitomised by the Williams Review, and to an extent by turbulence in Westminster. But no one is recommending things grind to a halt. Growth in the railways is set to continue. Indeed, creating a railway fit for the future is going to need a comprehensive supply chain, ready to deliver.
This is where supplier assurance comes in, and one of the easiest ways to obtain it is through RISQS – the Railway Industry Supplier Qualification Scheme.
RISQS is specifically designed to streamline the effort buyers need to put in to secure capable suppliers. And for suppliers, RISQS offers a single process to provide profile, opportunities, benchmarking and credibility they need to do business in rail, safely.
In short, the scheme gives the industry’s 100+ buyer members the assurance to do business with confidence with 4,000 supplier members.
It provides suppliers with an open, fair and transparent way for them to be formally recognised as capable providers of products and services to the GB rail market, on a smart, quick, easy web-based platform. Suppliers can be audited once via RISQS for their capabilities avoiding the need for them to be subjected to multiple, duplicate auditing from different buyers.
As chair of the RISQS Committee, I have the privilege of overseeing the rail industry’s governance of the scheme, and ensuring it works in the interests of both buyers and suppliers.
This is a critical feature, in that it is the rail industry scheme, managed by RSSB as our independent safety body, and so overseen by industry. The primary purpose is to pursue benefit for scheme users, and not to generate profits for their own sake, or exploit the supply chain.
This is really important to all suppliers, and something I can understand in my role as chief executive of CECA.
CECA members are responsible for many civil engineering triumphs across the rail network, and need to be able to sell into the industry efficiently and safely. RISQS does this.
Members of CECA, just like other suppliers to rail, will have benefited from cost reductions introduced this year. In May, the prices of membership and audits for suppliers were reduced, and taken with other efficiency gains, it means RISQS is costing 20% less in real terms since industry took back control of the scheme through RSSB in 2012.
We want to make sure we can do all we can to ensure the railway and its suppliers can form successful partnerships, while managing risk cost-effectively, so that everyone can play their part in delivering the railway of the future.
But I would urge companies new to rail, or not already in RISQS to join and be part of something bigger. You risk not being found by buyers otherwise, so it’s a huge opportunity to be a visible, capable supplier in the market.