Keyline in the compound with W M Donald

19th Apr 2024

The brief: Reduce downtime and carbon emissions by revolutionising the supply model.

The solution: A centralised stock management system: putting a shipping container on site and stocking it like a shop.

W M Donald

Keyline Civils Specialist and W M Donald have worked together in Scotland for over 30 years, and in that time developed a close working relationship. Always looking to innovate and improve the experience of customers, Keyline identified a way to make the supply and delivery process more efficient for all parties.

As one of the largest civil engineering contractors in the North of Scotland, product requirements for projects can vary hugely – often leading the W M Donald team to travel to various Keyline branches to source the stock they needed. With each added journey a hit to productivity and an additional contribution to carbon emissions, Keyline sensed that a more effective solution could be found.

In a move that reinforced the commitment to the partnership on both sides, conversations between Keyline and W M Donald began in late 2021 to transform the supply model. After some discussion, the Keyline team suggested an innovative centralised stock management system.

Lowering emissions and downtime: a centralised stock solution

Instead of travelling to collect products at several branches, the W M Donald team would find all the stock they needed in one on-site location. A container was constructed at W M Donald’s head office in Stonehaven, and supplied with utility stock.

An evolving inventory, adapting to the needs of W M Donald and its current projects meant the team would never run out of vital stock, or have to travel great distances to retrieve it. Keyline would visit the site every few weeks, take an inventory of the stock and invoice it – reducing admin and streamlining the purchasing process.

Making stock available 24/7

In the new system, the container at W M Donald head office acts as a ‘shop’, where staff can simply retrieve the stock they need and get straight back to work. Stock is now available to W M Donald 24 hours a day, seven days a week; helping the team handle any emergencies they have to deal with outside of normal operation hours.

With regular stock checks and excellent communication, there’s no need to worry about finding a certain part – Keyline works closely with W M Donald to introduce new stock as and when it’s needed, and the stock in the container is mirrored in the Aberdeen branch, which is used to top up anything missing when needed. With the guarantee of stock being readily available, productivity of the W M Donald team improved and downtime is minimised. With fewer vans on the road, emissions are also reduced, helping W M Donald and Keyline move closer to meeting their Net Zero targets.

Communication is Key-line

For this project to be a success, communication would be absolutely vital. In the early days of discussions, negotiation was on a day-to-day basis, as working out the intricacies of the new system – including the logistics and management required – took time. Once a plan of action was settled upon, communication didn’t stop; with virtual meetings held every fortnight, Keyline and W M Donald were able to develop a system that worked effectively for both, and overcome any issues as and when they arose.

With decades of trust and communication behind a long-lasting partnership, W M Donald was the ideal customer to attempt such a huge change to the status quo – an already fantastic relationship has been strengthened by the project.

Improving relationships with customers

David Muir, WM Donald Utility Manager, commented on the partnership: "The change has improved efficiency for W M Donald as the stock is always there, allowing my teams to get access to material easily. It reduces the amount of time spent going into distributors and relying on them to even have the stock available.

“We’re also reducing our carbon output, as our vehicles aren’t travelling distances to collect materials. Another advantage is that it reduces the time needed to raise purchase orders for any required items, which has really helped us. This has strengthened our relationship with our key supplier Keyline, and both parties are benefiting from the new system".

So far, at six months into the trial, the project has been a great success, boosting productivity, simplifying processes and lowering emissions.

To find out more about Keyline Civils Specialist click here.