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Welsh Water has successfully unified its ISO9001, ISO 14001, OHSAS 18001 and PAS 55 certification with SGS United Kingdom Ltd.

Welsh Water is run solely for the benefit of its customers. The not-for-profit company supplies water and sewage services to 1.2 million households and 110,000 businesses in Wales and parts of England. In addition, it operates 66 water treatment works, 832 wastewater treatment works, and maintains over 30,000 km of sewers.  It is the sixth largest of the 10 regulated water companies in England and Wales.

“We’ve always held the certification, but with separate auditing companies. This meant our outsourcing certification model was very fragmented,” explains Gary Smith, Head of SAP Business Support and Integrated Management Systems (IMS).

“When we came together as one unified company two years ago, we chose to integrate the certifications. We were looking for a partner that would drive us to continually improve what we were doing and to verify to us, and our stakeholders, that what we were doing was right.”

Welsh Water chooses SGS

Following a tendering process, Gary selected SGS because it offered certification against all the standards Welsh Water needed in one package. Now Welsh Water no longer relies on separate auditors for its certifications. As a result, Welsh Water managers can reduce the time they spend with external auditors.

“And SGS fits in well with our business,” says Gary. “We have a good relationship with the South Wales SGS team. It is testing, they challenge us and we challenge them. SGS understand our ethos. We’re a not-for-profit company and our job is to deliver the best possible value to our stakeholders.”

The route to amalgamated certification

Throughout 2011, Welsh Water worked closely with SGS to assess the higher risk parts of the business, and bring those over into the new amalgamated IMS.

“We dealt with the significant assets like the waste water treatment works and the larger water treatment works first, and every quarter we set stretch targets with the business supported by SGS. So, by December 2011 we had combined and pulled together all the disparate certifications into one big collective package with the help of SGS.”

Reviewing systems for the standards

Assessment against PAS 55 is the glue that helps hold the Welsh Water IMS together. Welsh Water achieved PAS 55 in 2007 with a view to reaching the very highest standard of asset management for the benefit of its customers and the environment. The PAS process also provides a continuous improvement ‘loop’ to allow strategies and improvement plans to be regularly reviewed and updated. The standard delivers performance benefits and improved targeting of investment in the assets.  For example, it means fewer equipment breakdowns and less planned maintenance to reduce interruptions to service and asset failure.

“Reinforcing our IMS methodology is a single clause in PAS 55-2, the ‘Guidelines for Application’, that supports our ethos in not creating documentation for our IMS, if what you’ve got is working well,” says Gary.

“So the first thing we did was to review every document we had and if they were adding no value we archived them. There is no point in producing documents for the sake of it just to close clauses in the different IMS standards. The IMS had to be right at a basic level. We went out to the operatives who are using the systems and asked them, ‘What would you like to change?

In fact, Welsh Water wanted to make sure its staff took ownership of everything. They ran focus groups, workshops, organised active trade union involvement, ran task and finish groups, and worked directly with the end users (the operational teams).

“And we continue to publish drafts, run workshops, training, and use the internet,” says Gary. “Effectively communicating what we’re doing is crucial. Welsh Water has excellent environmental and quality managers and they really help to drive the management systems forward. This creates a really positive feeling because everyone takes ownership of the IMS and how it interacts with the business.”

Benefits of the amalgamated management systems

Eases audit burden

Welsh Water no longer has to undergo frequent and repetitive assessment from different external auditors. Operatives know they are being audited and the scope of the well-planned audits and the SGS auditors helps to drive continuous improvements.

Reduces document burden

By aligning its management systems, Welsh Water has reduced its document and management system burden, and removed at least 40% of the volume of the separate management systems.

“With the reduction in the burden we can run the management systems in a cost-effective way so we have more money for investment in the assets and ultimately for maintaining the customer dividend,” says Gary.

Drives continuous improvement

The newly amalgamated IMS is driving continuous improvement.

Welsh Water can plan and map asset life, which helps ensure systems do not break down and which can save money on reactive maintenance of its assets. In addition, Welsh Water can focus on particular tasks at particular times of the year, minimise the health, safety, and environmental risk, improve the quality of its water, and improve its customer focus.

Future plans

Going forward, Welsh Water is looking to stretch and grow its certifications. Business Continuity and Information Technology systems certifications are on the horizon.

“Because we have the common system elements set up with the other standards, the new standards should be relatively easy to achieve. SGS know what we are doing so if we wanted to achieve those and give our customers and stakeholders more confidence we could do so with minimal cost burden. And it would be easy to drive continuous improvement in those areas,” says Gary Smith.

Peter Pritchett, Lead Auditor, adds: “I have audited DWR Cymru Welsh Water Systems since January 2008 when I carried out the initial assessment of their Health & Safety Management System to OHSAS 18001:2007. The scope of the original registration was the business and administration of strategic management of water services provision, including contract management and the provision of education and community engagement associated with water resource management and water treatment.”

In 2011, SGS won the contract with DCWW to extend the scope of registration to include process activities and additional standards, ISO 9001:2008 and ISO 14001:2004. Audits were conducted throughout 2011 over a 26-day period to transfer the registration from the previous assessment body to SGS. Recommendation for the scope to be extended to include additional activities, Production of potable water and waste water treatment and to organise the production, review and submission of annual June Return Reports to OFWAT, the Water Services Regulation Authority was made in December 2011.

During 2012 the scope has been further extended to include Fleet Management and Advance Digester at Cardiff WWTW.

“During the four years I have audited DCWW, Gary Smith has been my contact and we have enjoyed an excellent working relationship in accordance with the partnership approach. This relationship, which also extends to team members, has led to the development of a fully IMS that is easier to manage and provides improved control of all activities covered by its scope.”

“We look forward to continuing this relationship and extending the scope of registration even further in 2012 to include Business Continuity and Information Technology as referenced above.”

Notes for editors:

The SGS Group is the global leader and innovator in inspection, verification, testing and certification services. Founded in 1878, SGS is recognised as the global benchmark in quality and integrity. SGS is the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company. SGS is recognised as the global benchmark for quality and integrity. With more than 70'000 employees, SGS operates a network of over 1'350 offices and laboratories around the world.

DWR Cymru Welsh Water supplies water and sewage services to 1.2 million households and 110,000 businesses in Wales and parts of England. In addition, it operates 66 water treatment works, 832 wastewater treatment works, and maintains over 30,000 km of sewers.  It is the sixth largest of the 10 regulated water companies in England and Wales.