Network Rail – Creating supply chain synergy

"This new implementation will provide a more efficient, controlled and transparent supply chain operation, helping to create better service to the front line where it can really make an impact on achieving our objectives for the railways in Great Britain."

Stephen Armstrong, head of sourcing policy and governance, Network Rail

Three million customers a day depend on Network Rail to deliver its vision of a safe, reliable and efficient railway, fit for the 21st Century. External suppliers play a key role in achieving this vision, and Network Rail aims to realize best value by operating world-class procurement practices. Network Rail sought CGI's help to deliver integrated systems and processes, to manage its supply chains so that the right materials are provided at the right time and right place, and to minimize any disruption to the smooth running of the railway.

The Challenge

Network Rail was operating a wide range of systems and processes across its materials supply chains with limited coordination. These covered product management, inventory planning, purchasing, transportation, goods receipting, stock control and paying suppliers.

There were separate systems for heavy materials (such as railway sleepers and aggregates) and all other "non-heavy" materials. Some locations used separate spread sheets and databases that were not linked to any central system and local systems and processes were not always fully documented.

Network Rail had no common method for classifying different types of material, and no companywide overview of what supplies were held in stock or under procurement at any given time. Opportunities to negotiate framework contracts and improve terms with key suppliers were being missed due to the lack of accurate information.

In many areas, data had to be transferred manually between different parts of the system, creating expensive, time consuming and unproductive workloads.

The challenge was to design and then implement one integrated set of systems and processes for both heavy and non-heavy supply chains and to provide Network Rail with a platform to deal with waste, inefficiencies and a lack of usable information in these areas.

One of the major challenges was to gain agreement to a common approach across the company.

The Solution

CGI provided overall project management and a team of consultants with the necessary mix of skills in Oracle solutions, supply chains and business experience. The consultants worked closely with counterparts in Network Rail, making the project a shared venture at all stages.

The new system is based on Oracle's e-business suite and covers the supply chain from end to end.

It gives Network Rail the ability to do the following:

  • Forecast, plan and schedule materials to meet future needs
  • Request materials and immediately see their availability online
  • Manage inventory with full visibility of stock levels and locations across the whole country
  • Control purchases at all stages, including ordering, transportation, delivery, supplier invoicing and payment
  • Increase the re-distribution and use of surplus stock and recyclable items
  • Automatically update financial and other systems

The Results

Project Synergy illustrates "client intimacy" in practice. The new systems help staff to do their jobs better. Examples include the following:

  • Engineers can request maintenance materials and follow the progress of their orders online
  • Planners can forecast requirements more accurately and view supply and demand across the entire company
  • Product specialists can introduce new safety critical items with greater transparency and control
  • Finance and other users can spend less time resolving data accuracy problems

Network Rail now has a platform to further develop a reliable and cost effective supply chain in the future.

Why CGI?

Across the transport and logistics industry, CGI is known for our technological know-how and delivery record. Project Synergy demonstrated some of our key strengths, including the following:

  • An open and flexible approach to designing the best solution
  • Always working closely with our client – taking the approach that together we can achieve brilliant results
  • Commitment and persistence in overcoming problems
  • An enduring relationship – delivery results over a period of more than two years
  • An ability to deliver innovative and practical solutions that make a real difference.

Mike Turner, senior consultant, Network Rail

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Note: The project referenced in this case study was delivered by Logica, which CGI acquired in August 2012.