Chester and District Housing Trust
Showers, stores and cars. What do they all have in common? Not much at first glance. But dig deeper and you find three interlinked purchasing initiatives pioneered by a housing organisation that is leading the way in integrated procurement.
Over the past twelve months Chester & District Housing Trust has been working closely with PfH and its suppliers to help it change the way it purchases materials and vehicles and ensure it gets the most from PfH's comprehensive range of agreements.
Ian Shaw, Supply Chain & Partnership Officer at CDHT begins the story. "Fleet vehicles was the first area in which we approached PfH. Previously, we sourced all our vehicles through a single provider on traditional contract hire arrangements. It was proving expensive and time-consuming for us."
"The main issue was the specification of the vehicles. Whenever we needed modifications or extras on a van, they had to be added after it was delivered and at an extra cost. Anything from a roof rack or replacement tyres right through to some of the more specialist vehicles were adding extra expense and headaches."
It was PfH's job, as the sector's national purchasing consortium, to reduce both the headaches and expenses. CDHT signed up to the PfH Vehicle Management deal with Automotive Leasing, one of the agreement suppliers.
To get under the skin of the Trust's fleet, Mike Darby, Commercial Vehicle Sales Manager at Automotive Leasing spent a great deal of time liaising with Ian Shaw, who also manages the Trust's fleet, meeting with Trust drivers and reviewing current vehicles to gather an in-depth understanding of the individual vehicles and exactly what CDHT's requirements were.
Ian Shaw continues: "Working with Mike Darby and Automotive Leasing has meant we've been able to deliver on what we set out to achieve when we signed up to the framework. Efficiency has been the headline benefit for us - our operational costs for our fleet are still roughly what they were, but we're now getting more vehicles for our money and our new vehicles are working for us right from the day of delivery."
But it wasn't just fleet vehicles that were proving a headache for Chester & District Housing Trust.
Stella Williams, CDHT Purchasing & Performance Manager explains. "We knew exactly what we wanted - a professional and bespoke stores solution to suit our requirements. We were coming to the end of the agreement with our current stores arrangement and needed some help with sourcing a new merchant and a deal that delivered value for money. I needed a supplier who would be competitive on price, provide quality products and give an open, honest and professional service delivery. PfH assisted us with this by offering us their OJEU compliant materials framework."
PfH had launched its Materials for Maintenance and Capital Works framework agreement in May 2007 and supplier Grafton Merchanting GB was selected to provide a vendor managed stores solution to CDHT.
Stella Williams outlines the day-to-day work Buildbase delivers for CDHT. "The partnering stores solution that Buildbase provides to us includes a customer focused service for our Operatives and the necessary materials to support our responsive and voids repairs, as well as our planned investment programme."
"Buildbase takes the burden out of the daily ordering of materials with multiple suppliers, as they manage the order requests on our behalf to a core list arrangement. Their service provision is truly excellent and the feedback from our Operatives is that they welcome this value-adding addition to our supply chain."
Stella and her team believe it's the efficiencies they have gained through the stores partnership, directly from the material savings and also from improving back-office processes, that is the biggest plus to the agreement. Stella continues, "Our stores partnership with Buildbase provides an efficient and effective service delivery to our Operatives. This enables them to do their repairs jobs quicker, which ultimately impacts on our residents and customer satisfaction. We are absolutely delighted with the partnership stores and the staff who service our needs."
Another benefit delivered through PfH's Materials Agreement has been the development of some rather special taps.
It all started with CDHT's £1.14m per year bathroom investment programme, part of their decent homes initiative. Safe and comfortable showering in multi-storey apartment blocks can present low water pressure technical issues. CDHT is re-furbishing up to 450 bathrooms per year, replacing the existing showers with anti-scald TMV2 compliant bar type shower valves.
Intatec, one of the manufacturers on PfH's Bathrooms Agreement has been working with residents at CDHT to adapt a standard ‘Inta' shower to suit this particular application.
Intatec's Graham Hughes said: "The top floors of multi-storey buildings can suffer from low water pressure - the lower floors from high pressure. With a project like this, the same shower unit needs to be able to cope with high and low pressure, so it can be fitted anywhere in the building. What makes the Chester & District showers unique is the addition of integral flow restrictors, which mean every shower in the block delivers the same good flow rate and excellent showering experience without wasting water."
Ian Shaw at CDHT explains further. "We manage specification carefully on all our projects to ensure that we achieve appropriate performance from the equipment we fit. We have been delighted with not only Intatec's flexibility to provide us with a shower exactly to our specification, but also to have them on site in a relatively short lead time. Changing our original specification to Inta Plus has also shown a significant cost saving to the Trust, which we plan to re-invest back into our communities."