In this case study, we review how implementing the Ctrl Hub cloud based operational management system transformed several key business areas for Northern Gas Networks including:
- Health and safety compliance.
- Governance of supply chain risk.
- Operational efficiency.
- Business risk reduction.
- Regulatory reporting.
Northern Gas Networks operates the gas transmission assets for 2.7 million homes and businesses across the North East, Northern Cumbria and much of Yorkshire.
To support their standing as industry leaders in network performance and customer service they are focused on driving forward innovation, efficiency and best practice in the industry.
Over the next few years NGN will complete a replacement programme exceeding 3800km of pipe, while continuing to maintain the existing network.
To deliver this workload NGN employs both direct labour and are supported with around 17 specialist contractors known as Direct Service Providers or DSPs.
With an ageing network and ever increasing pressures to deliver improvements in performance for less cost to the consumer, Northern Gas Networks identified that continuing to operate in the traditional fashion was not sustainable. There was a clear need for change.
Traditionally a mixture of paper records, or siloed electronic systems held much of the key information such as drawings, certifications, personnel or fleet records. There had been little change in how the industry had operated, from an on-site operations perspective, for around 40 years.
With a diverse supply chain, operating across multiple locations and usually working in close proximity to the public, it was both difficult and essential that risk was managed at all times.
Ctrl Hub provided the opportunity to achieve this. Created as a joint venture between a construction company and a utilities company Ctrl Hub is designed to securely and efficiently store and share critical operational information.
Northern Gas Networks was first made aware of Ctrl Hub through a contractor on NGN’s scheduled maintenance framework. In 2012 Northern Gas Networks changed its supply chain model, moving away from a Tier 1 contract model to engaging direct with smaller, local contractors.
The contractor had developed the tool for their own use after identifying a number of risks and inefficiencies in the way that utilities contractors in general were operating. To a large extent, working methods had changed very little over 30-40 years.
By combining competency and training records, fleet and plant maintenance schedules, project drawings, forms and permits onto one electronic platform, the contractor developed the Ctrl Hub system to alleviate the frustrations and inefficiencies faced by their teams.
Once NGN representatives saw the system being used on their projects, they were interested in knowing more. They quickly identified its huge potential for improving operating efficiencies and risk reduction.
NGN approached the contractor about expanding its use across the wider supply chain and put together a cross-department team to work with Ctrl Hub on the roll out.
Ctrl Hub embedded a Project Manager into the collaborative team during the roll out. Mark Lisgo, Ctrl Hub Director, comments:
“It was great to work with NGN and the other DSPs on this project. We met initially to scope the specific stakeholder requirements and then met every two weeks to review progress.
“The project has covered a wide range of operational areas. It has introduced a new working culture from site operatives, operational management staff and at board level. One of the key drivers for NGN has been a move towards paperless operations, and NGN is well on the way to achieving this.
“Working with the NGN team of Sam Mannion and Glenn Judge we quickly identified some of the key traditional challenges that Ctrl Hub could solve. Ctrl Hub instantly provided that centralised platform for NGN giving visibility of overall compliance.”
Sam Mannion, NGN Business Support Manager explains more:
“Prior to Ctrl Hub it was extremely costly and time consuming, from an administrative perspective, to monitor and maintain supply chain compliance.
“Because of the secure tiered access system our area managers have live access to the status of every job within their area of responsibility, every morning they can view the entire workforce within a map view, and the RAG / traffic light coding provides an instant visual check of compliance. We can literally view, at the click of a mouse or touch of a screen, every single worker operating in our supply chain, to verify that they are qualified, competent and compliant. The same applies to vehicles, plant and equipment”
By providing accurate live data across the supply chain, Ctrl Hub has revolutionised the way NGN manages its supply chain risk. Now stakeholders at various levels within multiple organisations are given real time assurance in an efficient manner.
But Ctrl Hub hosts more than training, calibration and competency documents. It also drives operational efficiency and best practice by providing total operational management.
Using digital forms and best practice processes, Ctrl Hub can guide site teams through a variety of workflows, driving compliance at all levels.
At each stage of a project stakeholders can check in on the project. Site teams are prompted to record progress by taking photos and videos of key elements. For example, they can record how tidy a site is left at the end of the working day, or confirm that fittings have been tested properly before an excavation is backfilled.
Electronic forms are completed, stored and are available to be viewed immediately. They can be accessed instantly in the future, in the event of an incident or claimed, searchable by reference to a worker, or a specific job.
This results in huge risk reduction, as well as a reduction in administrative time in storage and accessing of paper forms.
Electronic job packs provide instant access to all the plans, forms and reference materials that operatives need on site to be able to carry out their work.
Sam, NGN Business Support Manager reflects on effects Ctrl Hub has had on the business:
“We are delighted with the improvements Ctrl Hub has brought to our operations. We have been using the system across our whole supply chain for 15 months now and it is central to many of NGN’s key daily activities.
“Due to its modular design and the support provided by Ctrl Hub and its implementation team we have been able to add new functionality to enhance its offering even further. Ctrl Hub is much more than an IT product. The team act as consultants, working with us to continually find and implement areas of business improvement.”
As a result of the success during the first year of operation, NGN has renewed their agreement with Ctrl Hub, making it mandatory for its DSPs. The ongoing relationship gives peace of mind that all sub-contractors have requisite licences and insurances, that all operatives are properly trained and qualified, and that all forms and processes are completed, submitted, approved and stored in a uniform manner.
Ctrl Hub has been working with NGN throughout on developing and enhancing the system further, and is proud to work with clients providing a solution that fits the business – rather than the common situation where a business purchases software and finds that it must then fit around that.
If you would like to know about Ctrl Hub and how the team can work with your business to drive business change, improve compliance and reduce risk please get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.