A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Hanson's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Hanson is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles


Highlighting best practice
Matthew Barlow, supply chain
director at Hanson UK
Hanson’s 12-cubic-metre-capacity
articulated concrete mixer trucks
can carry up to twice as much as a
conventional truck, saving fuel and
reducing lorry movements
On the face of it, delivering large quantities of bulky products
like rocks and gravel around the country looks about as
low-tech as you can get. Think again! Getting products to
the market on time, every time, has never been more challenging
for one of the country’s leading suppliers of heavy construction
materials. A growing focus on safety and sustainability, coupled
with increasingly busy road and rail networks, has seen Hanson
UK evolve from its primary role as a manufacturer of cement,
crushed rock, gravel and concrete to become a sophisticated
and highly successful logistics business. Supply chain director
Matthew Barlow explains how the change has been made.
One of the biggest challenges we face is how we can continue to improve our
service to customers and become the supplier of choice in a highly competitive
market. We make over 6,500 deliveries every working day by rail, road and water.
More than two thirds of those are of ready-mixed concrete and asphalt, which
generally have a shelf life of only a few hours.
In the past we would turn up with a load of concrete when it was ready – a delivery
lorry can carry 19 tonnes of it. These days we can provide detailed information
about when the load will be dispatched, where the truck is after leaving the plant
and what time it will arrive on site.
Our supply chain teams link the production and commercial functions to ensure
we pull together as a business to improve service levels. It’s a practical approach to
delivering low-cost production with the highest-quality products and service.
»CEO: Daniel Cooper
»Established in 1934 as
Amalgamated Roadstone
Company (ARC)
»Owned by Heidelberg Cement
AG since 2007
»No. of employees: 3,500
»Products: Cement, aggregates,
concrete, asphalt
»Production sites: 305
»Annual output: 45 million
»Turnover: £1.2 billion
»Group turnover: 16 billion
Hanson UK
Nerve centre
The nerve centre for our operations is a
purpose-built national customer service
facility at Syston near Leicester, which
handles pricing and orders as well as
managing all aspects of distribution.
We have regional teams processing
next-day orders, allocating a fleet
of 1,200 trucks and using the latest
IT systems and GPS to manage the
process. In addition, we have a team of
transport managers out in the field to
deal with the physical elements – the
trucks and drivers.
One of our toughest logistics headaches
is getting materials into highly populated
urban areas where construction activity
tends to be concentrated.
The location of our quarries is
determined by a number of factors,
not least geology and planning
constraints. Our ready-mixed concrete
plants operate closer to their markets;
however, to do this we also need
to operate a series of depots and
wharves, supplied by road, rail and
sea, to ensure the efficient transfer
of aggregates and cement to areas
of greatest demand and where local
materials are not readily available.
Distribution hubs
In London, Hanson has three important
distribution hubs at West Drayton
in the west, Dagenham in the east
and King’s Cross in the centre, all of
which have rail links with either the
company’s quarries in Leicestershire
and Somerset, or our cement works
near Stamford. The Dagenham depot
on the River Thames includes a marine
sand and gravel processing plant
where materials dredged from the
North Sea and eastern English Channel
are landed and processed for onward
delivery, either by rail and road or
further upstream by barge.
Inevitably, it’s always going to be the
last mile that is the most demanding,
particularly in urban areas. We can
only get so far by rail or river but
then it’s down to roads. That’s why
we are working hard to improve the
sustainability and safety performance
of our road fleet.
One of the key changes we have made
is to increase the average load size
by introducing articulated vehicles
and lighter drums on truck mixers.
Trials have been carried out with
hybrid mixer trucks to reduce carbon
emissions and every new vehicle we
bring into the fleet has the latest
Euro 6 engine as standard. Euro 6 is
the sixth incarnation of the European
Union directive to reduce harmful
pollutants from vehicle exhausts.
Vulnerable road users
We are acutely aware of the
importance of safety when operating
large vehicles in congested urban
streets. All our trucks in London
operate to the Fleet Operator
Recognition Scheme (FORS) gold
standard. Gold accreditation is only
awarded to exceptional operators who
have met exacting targets and who
actively promote the standard to their
supply chain.
Hanson’s low-entry-cab
mixer trucks being used in
London give the driver much
better visibility of cyclists and
pedestrians passing on the
near side
We have
regional teams
processing next-
day orders,
allocating a fleet
of 1,600 trucks
and using the
latest IT systems
and GPS to
manage the
Highlighting best practice
In addition, we have extended our
vehicle fleet with 40 new low-entry-
cab ready-mixed concrete trucks,
which have a panoramic glass cab
and are fitted with a 360° camera.
This, coupled with the lower driving
position, significantly improves
the driver’s visibility of cyclists and
pedestrians. Safety is our number-one
priority and these new trucks help to
protect vulnerable road users, which is
vitally important in busy urban areas.
In addition, these front and rear-steer
trucks are also fitted with a lightweight
drum, enhancing sustainability by
increasing the load size from 7.5 to
8 cubic metres per delivery. They are
initially being used on Thames Water’s
“super sewer” – the £15billion
Thames Tideway Tunnel project – and
are helping to meet Transport for
London’s direct vision standards while
minimising vehicle movements in
Behaviour and driver training are also
critical to operating safely and we have
been working hard to educate and
inform our hauliers, who are a mix of
company employees and independent
Delivering efficiency
Over the past three or four years we
have put considerable effort into
shortening the time spent on site to
reduce the overall cost to the client.
This, combined with improvements in
the turnaround times of vehicles to
increase truck utilisation and customer
service, has led to big improvements in
overall efficiency.
We have made the delivery side of
the business more efficient through a
major overhaul of both logistics and
our IT business systems. Trucking is
only one component of this, but in
terms of contribution to the customer-
facing side of the business it is vital,
and, of course, our drivers are on the
front line.
There has been a tendency for the
public to demonise the haulier who,
in the eyes of many, clogs up and
damages the roads while mercilessly
polluting the atmosphere. But the
fact remains that road transport is
absolutely critical to the UK economy
and in particular the construction
materials sector.
Our job is to learn from other
industries to make our trucks more
efficient and safer. Huge progress has
been made towards improving logistics
in sectors such as food and retail and
there is clearly more we can learn. The
challenge we face is to ensure our
customers continue to see tangible
improvements in our overall product
offering. The whole organisation
needs to be involved in this change;
to be truly customer service orientated
everybody within the business must
buy into the ideal.
Road transport
critical to the
UK economy
and in
particular the
Hanson operates a fleet of
seven marine aggregate
dredgers which deliver sand
and gravel from the North
Sea, Bristol Channel and
English Channel to wharves
around the UK for onward
delivery by road, rail and


This article was sponsored by Hanson. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from The Rt Hon Theresa May MP.

The Rt Hon Theresa May MP's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By The Rt Hon Theresa May MP

This foreword from the then Prime Minister appeared in the 2018/19 Parliamentary Review.

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review. For Her Majesty’s Government, our task in the year ahead is clear: to achieve the best Brexit deal for Britain and to carry on our work to build a more prosperous and united country – one that truly works for everyone. 

The right Brexit deal will not be sufficient on its own to secure a more prosperous future for Britain. We also need to ensure that our economy is ready for what tomorrow will bring. Our Modern Industrial Strategy is our plan to do that. It means Government stepping up to secure the foundations of our productivity: providing an education system that delivers the skills our economy needs, improving school standards and transforming technical education; delivering infrastructure for growth; ensuring people have the homes they need in the places they want to live. It is all about taking action for the long-term that will pay dividends in the future.

But it also goes beyond that. Government, the private sector and academia working together as strategic partners achieve far more than we could separately. That is why we have set an ambitious goal of lifting UK public and private research and development investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027. It is why we are developing four Grand Challenges, the big drivers of social and economic change in the world today: harnessing artificial intelligence and the data revolution; leading in changes to the future of mobility; meeting the challenges of our ageing society; and driving ahead the revolution in clean growth. By focusing our efforts on making the most of these areas of enormous potential, we can develop new exports, grow new industries and create more good jobs in every part of our country.

Years of hard work and sacrifice from the British people have got our deficit down by over three quarters. We are building on this success by taking a balanced approach to public spending. We are continuing to deal with our debts, so that our economy can remain strong and we can protect people’s jobs, and at the same time we are investing in vital public services, like our NHS. We have set out plans to increase NHS funding annually by an average by 3.4 percent in real terms: that is £394 million a week more. In return, the NHS will produce a ten-year plan, led by doctors and nurses, to eliminate waste and improve patient care.

I believe that Britain can look to the future with confidence. We are leaving the EU and setting a new course for prosperity as a global trading nation. We have a Modern Industrial Strategy that is strengthening the foundations of our economy and helping us to seize the opportunities of the future. We are investing in the public services we all rely on and helping them to grow and improve. Building on our country’s great strengths – our world-class universities and researchers, our excellent services sector, our cutting edge manufacturers, our vibrant creative industries, our dedicated public servants – we can look towards a new decade that is ripe with possibility. The government I lead is doing all it can to make that brighter future a reality for everyone in our country. 

British politics provides ample material for analysis in the pages of The Parliamentary Review 
The Rt Hon Theresa May MP
Prime Minister