So, what is a category council? Our newest member of the Procurement Services team, Neil Dickens attended our Highways category council at Holme Hall Quarry to find out. Read about his experience here...
As a new starter at YPO and charged with engaging with current and potential customers across a wide range of procurement expertise, any opportunity to learn is gratefully accepted. Therefore I was delighted to join the YPO Fleet, Highways and Buildings team at their Category Council for Highways. Hope Construction Materials Ltd were the gracious hosts to the Category Council at their Holme Hall Quarry, which with its 8 mile boundary dwarves the size of the nearby village of Stainton in Rotherham.
Representing YPO Procurement Services were Wendy Clarke and myself (from the growing YPO Procurement Business Partners team), two thirds of the Fleet, Highways and Buildings Category team alongside representatives from 5 Local Authorities all of whom came together to discuss a varied agenda which was dominated by two new frameworks and their implications: AART (which I soon learnt stands for Aggregates, Asphalt, Ready-mix Concrete and Topsoil) and Streetlighting (Products and Services).
As the newest member of the YPO Procurement Services and a total novice in the world of Highways products and services, I was surprised how well I was able to keep up with the flow of the conversation. All in attendance were very accommodating in explaining acronyms (of which there L.O.T.S) although I must admit I was too sheepish to ask what an “aggregate” actually is... my understanding had been limited to the literal sense of “adding things together” which doesn’t require 13 metre quarry holes to achieve!
Thanks to Google (what did we do without search engines?) in construction terms “aggregate” is a broad term for crushed stone, sand, gravel or slag and is used to manufactureconcrete and asphalt; of which Hope’s Holme Hall Quarry is able to produce 1.7 million tons of crushed stone per year!
The sheer scale of the operation at Holme Hall Quarry is made more staggering when you consider the whole process runs using only 13 operational staff; even when the machinery is running 24 hours a day! The deputy quarry manager at Holme Hall informed us that this lean approach was only possible by having multi-disciplined staff and a flexible approach to using their assets, much like the use of a Dynamic Purchasing Solution (DPS) for procurement. Unlike a standard framework, a DPS, (such as the new AART framework) enables suppliers to be added or removed from the approved list as the needs of customers change; creating a scalable supplier base for the lifetime of the DPS.
My lasting memory, apart from now knowing what an “aggregate” is, was the spirit of the meeting and how everyone was a willing participant and completely bought into the collaborative nature of YPO. Whilst many customers consider YPO a “supplier” how many suppliers invite you to an event where you influence what they produce and therefore ensure you gain the maximum benefit. Couple this with a tour of a supply chain partner and a real understanding of the supply process and hurdles they face – whilst there might not be a true “free lunch” this is as good as it gets!
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