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  • by Trevor Loveday

Supply chain slates lack of innovation uptake by water firms

Water sector supply chain companies have panned what they see as “an ongoing lack of innovation uptake by water companies and their delivery partners.”


The companies’ trade association, British Water, has reported findings from its latest annual poll of its membership on their clients’ performances that it claims show innovation “was again the lowest scoring area in 2021.” The association’s chief executive, Lila Thompson, said: “Our survey clearly shows the supply chain still finds it challenging to engage with clients on innovation.”


British Water said the contractors, consultants and suppliers surveyed reported “collaboration with the supply chain on innovation, R&D and testing had decreased significantly in the past 12 months.”


The trade body said, “While noting the impact of the pandemic, the findings highlight a concerning downward trend, with levels of engagement with the supply chain falling by 28% between 2020 and 2021.”


Thompson pointed to Ofwat’s innovation competition, the emerging centre of excellence, Spring, and other innovation initiatives in the sector as indications that “the water sector is moving in the right direction on innovation.” But she added: “It is clear that the best way for the sector to improve is by engaging more closely with supply chain innovators to deliver the best possible outcomes.”


British Water said its five-year trends analysis of water companies’ performances in key areas between 2017- 2021 showed “overall the water sector is responding to legislative pressures and customer concerns with an increased focus on policies that drive environmental performance, health and safety and value for money.”


Thompson said: “While the 2021 survey clearly identifies there is room for improvement, the five-year trends analysis shows there are some promising moves within the sector to work more closely with the supply chain to tackle the issues that matter most to the public such as the environment.”

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