A unique partnership agreement between Hackney Homes and PVC-U system supplier VEKA plc is being widely acknowledged as a potential model for all such contracts in future.
On the face of it, a large proportion of the London borough’s stock is undergoing extensive refurbishment including 50,000 replacement windows installed so far and many thousands more to follow.
Behind that however is a structured approach to supply chain partnering that not only offers greater co-ordination and control but also delivers significant cost savings, an extended warranty and many other additional benefits uncommon in such a contract.
The major difference in structural terms is that the overall control of the window programme is brought back up the supply chain to VEKA, giving improved efficiency as well as a single point of contact, especially in problem solving.
VEKA is able to ensure consistency of supply, quality control and communication by the co-ordination of three established and trusted VEKA fabricators, Ashford Windows, Piper Double Glazing and Sovereign Group.
The VEKA Partnering initiative has been in place for some years, based on a nationwide infrastructure of a dozen or so major fabricators, but the Hackney Homes project is the largest and most comprehensive example of its use to date.
Hackney Homes Client Technical Manager Gary Hopkins said: “It means if we tell VEKA there’s a problem, VEKA sorts it out; it’s that simple. From our perspective, everything just goes a bit more smoothly.”
One of the more noticeable specific features is a powerful online contract management system that enables clients, tenant representatives and other authorised individuals to track the progress of any aspect of the project in fine detail. This even includes information on each window or door via its Unique Product Reference Number (UPRN). Information includes specific profiles used, component parts and sealed glazing unit sizes to support future maintenance schedules and responsive repairs.
Gary Hopkins said of the system: “It was a big investment by VEKA but from our point of view it was well worth it.
“Every drawing for every window is logged into the system and everyone can follow exactly what has been done. Also, if there is a problem with a window, the UPRN means the man in the van only needs to go once, not three times because we already know what needs doing and what parts are needed.”
Economies of scale have had a significant impact on the bottom line of the entire project, enabling Hackney Homes to extend the original investment sum to considerably more refurbishment work than could have been envisaged with a conventional contract. Also, these economies have been further boosted by Hackney Homes setting up SCMG, a supply chain consortium including counterparts in several other London Boroughs, adding significantly more volume to the total work carried out. As Gary Hopkins said: “If every local authority could join together, the cost benefits would be even greater.”
The agreement also includes:
- A full scheduled maintenance programme including training for Hackney Homes’ own personnel in responsive repairs as well as routine maintenance
- Assurance of appropriate training and qualifications for all relevant VEKA personnel
- Budget preparation providing ‘cost-certainty’ and efficient expenditure control by submission of Agreed Maximum Price, including regular review to ensure competitive pricing is maintained
- Planning application management including design drawing, taking into account planning and technical specification and compliance to Building Regulations
- Window Installation Supervisors (WIS) for each constructor area, providing a high-profile ‘Clerk of Works’ and resident care support
- Commitment to sourcing local labour where practicable and close liaison with other trades for improved efficiency.
It also features the supplier’s commitment to pass on all old PVC-U frames to the world-leading VEKA Recycling facility in Kent, something that Hackney Homes considered a very major factor in its choice of supplier.
VEKA Commercial Manager Alistair Craig says the Hackney contract is the most comprehensive he has known:
“Some other companies and housing authorities have built some of these benefits into supply chain contracts before but to our knowledge none has ever done it to anything like this extent and with so many benefits.
“We firmly believe this is the model on which all such contracts should be based in the future.”
Gary Hopkins added: “I’m not saying it doesn’t involve hard work; it does; but it has brought us added value from VEKA and the installers.
“We had high hopes from the beginning and it has worked even better than we thought.”