Achilles, the global supply chain management company, expects to save the UK rail industry more than £5.5 million per year through the launch of Link-up Engage – the advanced portal used to register and pre-qualify suppliers.
The company has worked in partnership with the Link-up Steering Group, now called RISQS Board, comprising rail buyers and suppliers from across industry, to launch the next generation of Achilles Link-up. It offers a streamlined pre-qualification process, a shorter questionnaire, intuitive user interface and advanced procurement features.
Achilles Link-up Engage is estimated to generate £5.5 million-worth of savings per year, in terms of resourcing. Trials show suppliers will complete the questionnaire in half the time, because an auto-complete function replicates the same information across different parts of the questionnaire document. Buyers are expected to take one third less time to complete searches for supplier information and are provided with an online RFI-type tool to support the dialog with suppliers.
The innovation comes after the Arthur D Little report, produced on behalf of RSSB, revealed that improving supplier assurance processes in rail could save the industry £35 million per year.
Achilles Link-up Engage enables pre-qualification for tenders via a single source of verified information. It also offers 3,500 registered suppliers access to contract opportunities from all the key buyers within the rail sector and ensures compliance with EU Procurement Legislation.
Achilles Link-up Engage will offer a wide range of additional benefits, including:
Streamlined and simplified processes with direct data checking feedback
A four-tiered pricing system, bringing direct savings to 80 per cent of existing suppliers
Revised product coding structure
Improved user interface and greater opportunities to personalise company profiles
Extended focus on new sustainability requirements
Easier to export data and produce reports
Collaboration with Achilles’ communities in other sectors and other regions
Annette Gevaert, Director of Rail and Transport at Achilles, said: “The roll-out of Link-up Engage is Achilles’ contribution to support innovation, implement best practice and increase efficiency in the rail sector. Link-up Engage will greatly reduce the time spent by buyers and suppliers on administrative activities, leaving them free to concentrate on the value-add parts of their businesses. It is particularly geared to benefit SMEs.” Richard Sharp, Chairman of the RISQS Board that governs Link-up and Rail Compliance Manager at J Murphy & Son, commented: “In light of the McNulty report, one of the key aims of Link-up Engage was to identify ways to make the process more efficient without reducing and possibly increasing the level of assurance given by the scheme.”
Ian Sexton, Director of Contracts and Procurement at Network Rail, said: “Link-up Engage is the result of many people’s engagement and we hope buyers and suppliers will see genuine time and cost saving benefits now the scheme has been launched.”
As a global supply chain expert, Achilles’ delivered a new platform for the UK rail community that allows businesses of all sizes a shop window in the industry and will provide access to business opportunities here and across the world.
Peter Rowlands is Assurance Manager at Alan Dick Communications – a buyer and supplier member of Achilles Link-up. Speaking about the launch of Link-up Engage, he said: “Link-up Engage is a better reflection of the industry and more truly represents its capability and depth.
“It caters for the larger operations with the greater capability right through to a lone supplier with a single product. It enables all 115 buyers on the system to see and select suppliers based on clear and relevant information and all suppliers – however small, to be visible to the Industry in the best possible light.”
Achilles Link-up was originally created in 1997 and has become recognised as best practice in qualifying suppliers, mitigating risk and ensuring efficacy within rail procurement. Every month, an average of 11,000 searches are performed on the portal by more than 2,200 procurement and supplier assurance specialists.