jContracting practices


Royal Schiphol Group is one of the largest semi-public commissioning authorities in the Netherlands. As an organisation, we play a coordinating role that sees us work with a wide range of different parties on a daily basis. Our tendering policy reflects our standards and values pertaining to Corporate Responsibility, and underpins our management decisions.

Mutual trust

At the initiative of the Commissioning Authorities Forum, in which Royal Schiphol Group takes part, the Dutch construction and civil engineering sector has reached agreement on four leading principles for good contracting practice. The underlying aim is to ensure that collaboration throughout the chain promotes (1) pride, (2) professionalism and (3) job satisfaction, resulting in (4) a successful project. The key pillars of this approach are mutual trust and reliability. Through this philosophy, the commissioning authorities and relevant market participants are able to generate greater added value for society at lower public cost. Schiphol also implements its own vision with regards to market participation, which supports and underlines the basic principles described above.

Continuous improvement

Mutual trust makes us an attractive client; however, we cannot take it for granted that potential suppliers view us in this light nor that they consider us a preferred client. We have therefore commissioned a study into preferred customership to better understand how Schiphol is seen by the contracting community and how we compare with other commissioning authorities. We will be reviewing this feedback over the coming months and exploring how best to implement it.

We have also undertaken an assessment to help us improve the maturity level of our Group procurement practices with a view to introducing a new procurement operating model in 2019. The results of the study suggested that Schiphol can improve the contribution from the market and performance of its supply chain by taking the next step in terms of our contract management, category management, supplier relationship management, and Procure 2 Pay processes.

Goals of the tendering and purchasing policy

We apply a goal-oriented tendering and purchasing policy with the aim of ensuring each tendering process results in the best quality at a competitive price. We prepare a strategy in advance, outlining how the contract directly contributes to Schiphol's ambitions, as well as specifying the resulting contract objectives and how the contract can be designed to ensure these are achieved. The strategy seeks to answer two key questions: (1) how can we ensure we achieve our goals, and (2) how will contracting parties implement their processes and coordinate these with Schiphol Group, as well as upstream suppliers and other relevant stakeholders.

We ensure that contracting parties adhere to the Dutch labour agreement. Royal Schiphol Group does not allow competition on employment terms, and we use the collective labour agreement as a minimum level as well as rules on working conditions and safety. We pay careful attention to signals from workers of our contracted partners about working conditions and labour agreements and we continue the dialogue.

As part of our efforts to communicate with our suppliers, Schiphol has a complaints desk for external parties involved in tendering procedures. The complaints committee received and examined seven complaints in 2018; these provided valuable insights as to how we can further simplify and improve our purchasing processes going forward.

Corporate Responsibility in tenders

To increase the sustainability value of our activities, and those of our wider supply chain, we have set ourselves the goal of integrating our Corporate Responsibility ambitions into 100% of our European tenders. In this way, our aim is to ensure all sustainability options are considered for every one of our projects. We believe that even the smallest incentive can lead to innovative and more sustainable ways of doing business.

An example of this approach involves a current project to renovate two tunnels that run under Schiphol's runways: the Buitenvelderttunnel and the Kaagbaantunnel. Energy-efficient technology, including LED and smart lighting, will be used in the tunnels. Traffic signs around the tunnels will also be solar powered, and the tunnels will have a materials passport. Furthermore, all construction work will be fully carbon neutral and undertaken with the help of seven individuals who have difficulty accessing employment.

Not all tenders at Schiphol are successful; we treat each one as a learning process with a view to improving for next time (we were unable to fully meet all of our sustainability targets in constructing the new pier, for example). In light of this, Schiphol has set up a technical committee to review the sustainability features of the architect's blueprints during the tendering stage. Examples of projects tendered in 2018 for development over the coming years include the circular demolition of a cargo building at the Schiphol site, as well as a sustainable clothing initiative.

Scope for innovation

Schiphol provides scope for innovation and sustainability in its tendering processes. We aim to be a launching customer and to allow our contractors scope to explore new ways of creating value. In 2018, the focus was on digitisation; this led to successful pilots for the use of self-propelled passenger bridges and electric ground power units (E-GPUs). We also signed a new eight-year partnership with a Display-as-a-Service (DaaS) service provider in alignment with Schiphol's transition to a circular economy. The agreement, which comes into effect in early 2019, sees the supplier entrusted with managing the entire supply chain of approximately 3,000 digital display screens in the terminal. The provider is also responsible for ensuring the screens' components are reused where possible.

Best Value Procurement

Building on its successful application at Lelystad Airport, Royal Schiphol Group now applies the Best Value Procurement (BVP) method when tendering for new main contractors. This concerns all maintenance works at the Schiphol site, as well as selected investment projects pertaining to construction and infrastructure. Our medium-term ambition is to introduce a 'predictive maintenance' element to these contracts. This will involve digitisation in the preparation phase, followed by virtual construction and data-driven maintenance. These innovations will help us to improve how we prepare, implement and maintain construction projects in order to reduce risks as well as costs.

At Lelystad Airport, the use of the best value method for airside and landside infrastructure has so far resulted in a substantially lower cost level. However, this approach proved to be no more advantageous than traditional procurements methods in the case of the new terminal construction.

Selection of main contractors

BAM, Heijmans and VolkerWessels have been selected as the main contractors for major construction, renovation and infrastructure maintenance projects at the Schiphol site, establishing them as our strategic partners for the next nine years. The focus of the tendering process was on cost optimisation, improving business operations, sustainability, and the application of digital solutions and other innovations. Our engagement with the companies is based on a performance-led approach, which ultimately determines the share of the project portfolio awarded to each firm.

Our contractors share our focus on sustainability and are keen to play an important role as we work towards achieving climate- neutral and zero-waste status by 2030. As well as fully meeting our standard contracting requirements, the construction companies demonstrate a high level of ambition and are keen to share responsibility in helping Schiphol become a circular operating airport.

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Managing ethical behaviour