Sluggish tempo of innovation continues to frustrate provide chain, says water trade survey

A brand new survey from British Water factors to an ongoing lack of innovation uptake by water corporations and their supply companions.

In 2021, the Authorities and water regulators in England and Wales – Ofwat and the Surroundings Company – set out an bold programme of reforms driving water corporations to offer larger consideration to innovation, collaboration and communication.

The commerce affiliation’s annual UK Water Firm Efficiency Survey asks contractors, consultants and suppliers to price their shoppers’ efficiency in 11 areas, together with professionalism, contractual method and communication.

Innovation was once more the bottom scoring space in 2021 – at a time when regulator Ofwat is encouraging water corporations to seek out new methods of working to handle key points, with out growing buyer payments. Respondents reported “collaboration with the availability chain on innovation, R&D and testing” had decreased considerably previously 12 months.

Lila Thompson, chief government at British Water.

Whereas noting the influence of Covid, the findings spotlight a regarding downward pattern, with ranges of engagement with the availability chain falling by 28% between 2020 and 2021.

“The water sector is transferring in the suitable route on innovation, with the introduction of Ofwat’s Innovation Competitors, Spring’s rising centre of excellence, together with water firm innovation days, devoted portals and different innovation initiatives within the sector. Nonetheless, our survey clearly reveals the availability chain nonetheless finds it difficult to have interaction with shoppers on innovation,” mentioned Lila Thompson, chief government at British Water.

“Utilities are going through pressing challenges to ship their core water and wastewater companies, whereas defending the atmosphere and offering worth for cash for patrons. It’s clear that one of the simplest ways for the sector to enhance is by participating extra intently with provide chain innovators to ship the very best outcomes,” she added.

British Water introduced that from 2022, the water firm survey will likely be redesigned to streamline the variety of questions and give attention to the problems that matter most to the availability chain.

5 12 months developments evaluation
As a substitute of the standard 2021 water firm survey chart, British Water have created a five-year developments evaluation, mapping water corporations’ performances on key areas between 2017- 2021 and figuring out key themes and developments occurring throughout the sector.

Hearteningly, the pattern reveals general the water sector is responding to legislative pressures and buyer issues with an elevated give attention to insurance policies that drive environmental efficiency, well being and security and worth for cash. The best scoring 12 months was 2019, with water corporations bettering throughout all areas.

“Whereas encouraging, the excessive scores in 2019 are more likely to be as a result of surge in work and spend through the closing part of AMP6, which ran from 2015-20,” commented the evaluation writer Mar Batista, British Water’s head of programmes.

“Regardless of the pandemic, optimistic scores in these key areas continued to rise in 2020, the primary 12 months of AMP7, earlier than falling barely in 2021 – partly as a result of sustained influence of the pandemic on workforces throughout the nation,” added Batista.

The worst scoring 12 months was 2018, which is believed to be attributable to the place it sits within the cycle of regulatory asset administration intervals (AMPs), as water firm spending and initiatives for AMP6 weren’t but accomplished.

“The final 5 years has seen water corporations beneath ever growing scrutiny from regulators and unprecedented strain from the general public to enhance their environmental credentials and buyer expertise,” added Thompson. “Whereas the 2021 survey clearly identifies there’s room for enchancment, the five-year developments evaluation reveals there are some promising strikes inside the sector to work extra intently with the availability chain to sort out the problems that matter most to the general public such because the atmosphere.”

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