Having demonstrated significant benefits in other Asset areas (e.g. Track and Fleet), Turner & Townsend Suiko were engaged to extend the TfL Lean deployment programme across wider areas of Asset Operations. This included Signals Works, where the challenges were predominantly financial, and there was a significant focus on reducing external subcontractor expenditure whilst maintaining both safety and service.
We worked hand-in-hand with the operational teams in identifying cost efficiency initiatives, including the elimination of process inefficiencies and increasing capacity in the TfL direct labour teams. To enable this, a further key objective was to build the internal leadership and improvement capability of the Signals Works team, encouraging increased engagement, involvement and ownership.
The initial engagement involved a diagnostic phase, analysing demand and performance data to provide new insights into cost efficiency opportunities. Through engagement of the team, this allowed them to challenge common perceptions, and highlighted significant opportunities to reduce subcontract spend through greater utilisation of their own (direct labour) teams.
Once the target areas had been highlighted, a Lean Coach was embedded in the Signals Works team to provide support and guidance throughout the implementation. Lean principles were introduced as appropriate, enabling the Signals Works teams to understand and ‘see’ the waste in their processes. Mapping their processes allowed them to challenge current practices and identify Non-Value Adding activities.
The team were encouraged to propose their own solutions, and an Action Plan developed based on ‘Ease vs Benefit’ prioritisation.
Improvements were categorised into key workstreams, owned by the Signals Works teams and managed through A3 methodology:
- Implementation of a performance management process
- Planning process improvement
- Team capability development.
Making the difference
In this unionised environment, Lean Thinking was brought to life for the front-line teams through practical application:
- providing hands-on support;
- pinpointing tangible opportunities;
- improving flow of information through the various levels of the business; and
- balancing the right mix of tools and supporting behaviours.
Our approach was to build an engaged, capable team within Signals Works to deliver the business objectives. This brought people together from different areas and aligned them to a common purpose.
To highlight all of the key performance challenges (including Safety, Quality and People aspects in addition to Cost and Delivery), a connected Visual Performance Management process was implemented, linking management and ‘frontline’ operations.
The team developed their own set of measures and targets, and the process was built into their standard routine to challenge performance and provide a clear route for escalation if required. The Lean Coach further supported the Signals Works teams by:
- Developing a Continuous Improvement mind-set, encouraging them to challenge the status quo and drive performance.
- Upskilling Leaders and Teams – through delivery of appropriate training (including Lean Awareness, Lean Leadership and Process Mapping), supported by a ‘Learning by Doing’ approach with practical application.
- Ensuring Sustainability – Embedding the right tools, supported by the required behaviours, mind-set, capability and operating systems. Supplemented by continued coaching and guidance.
Through the work undertaken, benefits have been delivered in several ways and the requirement for subcontract labour has been reduced as a result. To date, there has been an 80% reduction in the number of un-utilised shifts. This equates to £1.7m worth of internal capacity that can be utilised to offset the costly subcontract labour that was previously used (with benefits expected to rise further still):
This additional capacity of the internal teams also provides opportunity for further income generation through additional services, and absence levels were reduced by approximately 40% since the start of our engagement.
©Turner & Townsend Suiko Limited. This content is for general information purposes only and does not purport to constitute professional advice. We do not make any representation or give any warranty, express or implied, and shall not be liable for any losses or damages whatsoever, arising from reliance on information contained in this document.
It must not be made available or copied or otherwise quoted or referred to in whole or in part in any way, including orally, to any other party without our express written permission and we accept no liability of whatsoever nature for any use by any other party.