Lanes Group shortlisted for two Water Industry Awards

Drainage and wastewater specialist Lanes Group plc has been named as a finalist in two categories in the prestigious Water Industry Awards.

The company has been shortlisted for the Customer Initiative of the Year Award for its customer advocacy training programme which has achieved significant improvements in customer satisfaction.

It is also a finalist in the Wastewater Innovation Project category, in partnership with Thames Water, for the development and launch of Van Pack 2.0, the UK’s most advanced drain unblocking van.

The recognition in both award categories relates to Lanes’ work as the sole wastewater network service maintenance partner for Thames Water, the UK’s largest water company.

Lanes Director Andy Brierley said: “We’re delighted Water Industry Award judges have recognised the brilliant work done by our teams in relentlessly striving to improve our service for Thames Water and its 15 million wastewater customers.

“Taken together, these two award categories define what Lanes is all about – creating highly-motivated and well-trained teams to use innovative processes and equipment that deliver excellent customer service.”

The Lanes customer advocacy programme, rolled out within the Thames Water contract from June 2021, has three learning products for induction training, field engineer refresher training and field manager training.

Its training sessions use multiple techniques, including creative role play, to show front-line teams how best to support customers, backed up with a three-month period of follow-up advice and support.

More than 500 personnel went on the training course in the first eight months. Average individual customer satisfaction scores have increased from 4.4 out of 5 to 4.6. The target set by Thames Water is 4.5.

Lanes has worked in partnership with Thames Water to develop the Van Pack 2.0 concept. It incorporates dozens of ‘lean’ design and process changes to improve the productivity, safety and sustainability of a new fleet of drain unblocking vans.

Alex Saunders, Thames Water’s Head of Waste Networks, said: “This project demonstrates innovative thinking at all levels, from a collaborative approach to service investment to smart application of technologies that deliver new standards in service and safety. We’re confident it’s a model our industry colleagues will be keen to learn from.”

The resulting vehicles – dubbed the Porsches of pipe sewerage – redefine the capabilities of a blockage van. Each one costs £70k, 40% more than a standard van pack. Lanes’ total investment in the 110-van fleet will top £7.7m.

Lanes and Thames Water are working together to assess the impact of Van Pack 2.0 as it is rolled out. Early data is highly promising, with a first time fix improvement of 16.4%.

Applied to the whole fleet, this is already equivalent to a £2.7m annual saving on Ofwat blockage penalties. With Van Pack 2.0 in place, Lanes and Thames Water plan a performance improvement programme that aims to reduce repeat visits by 50%.

The winners in each of the 19 categories in the Water Industry Awards will be revealed at the awards night held on Wednesday 29th June 2022 at the Birmingham Metropole Hotel.

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