Outsourcing: Is It Working?

Paul-Langham-Go-PlantGo Plant Limited’s MD, Paul Langham, explains the pros and cons of outsourcing across the public and private sectors and why many organisations, as well as the general public, benefit from such relationships with specialist providers.


The viability of using external services rather than pulling purse strings and juggling resources in-house has always been a decision which is mostly made based on the answers to two key questions: what will it cost, and what will I get for my money?

The desire now to deliver the very highest of standards without breaking the bank is rightly high on the agenda for both the public and private sectors, with the outsourcing of certain areas of a business often key. But is outsourcing benefiting all involved, and is it money well spent?

According to the Local Government Association, for example, there are around 416 shared service arrangements across England alone, resulting in £462m of efficiency savings, which makes it clear that the public sector is saving expenditure against respective budgets.

Despite these figures, there has long been a debate surrounding the outsourcing of specialist services by the public sector in particular, with many actively calling for details to be made more transparent, to enable individuals to review just what their well-earned money is being spent on, and to make the Government lessen its advocacy of outsourcing.

The Scale Of Costs

However, what isn’t often considered is the scale of costs associated with not only purchasing high specification products and equipment needed to undertake jobs well in-house, but the continual operational costs, including labour. And that’s not to mention the maintenance costs of keeping equipment operational, up-to-date with the latest legislation and required standards, or expansion of fleet as a result of increased demand.

Street-sweepIn the sweeping industry, for example, it’s proven time and time again more cost-efficient not only for the public sector, but the private sector too, to call on specialist fleets of vehicles when needed rather than to manage the variety of responsibilities that come with taking them in-house. This cost saving is proven across many areas, from environmental obligations, staff training and development, to expansion and enhancement of existing fleet, meeting industry standards and legislations, and providing quality.

From an environmental perspective, as a company we place a strong emphasis on reducing our carbon footprint, and it’s our responsibility to actively look for ways to do this. Once we can achieve a more sustainable solution, we put practices into place and invest in highly-effective products, operations and equipment, and we can subsequently pass our sustainability efforts onto to our customers.

For example, we don’t just sweep up and collect dirt from roads, highways, or construction sites, and then dispose of it, but we carefully segment the collections from our sweepers and recycle materials which otherwise could end up in landfill. Our Gritbuster system, for example, has been installed at our West Midlands depot and allows us to recycle up to 92 percent of the road sweepings and gully waste that we collect.

Designed to process up to 25 tonnes per hour, the treatment process operates by passing the waste material through a separating trommel, a water / chemical dosing plant, and double density separator system which delivers an end product, consisting of coarse and fine aggregates, organics matter and plastics.

The remaining ultrafine particulates suspended in the water are then removed by a combined chemical process passing through a clarifier and filter press to leave a compacted material or “cake.” The water, which is now clean, is then recirculated as part of the process, reducing both clean water consumption and waste water discharge.

For in-house street cleaning operations, it would prove extremely difficult to invest in such a high degree of sustainable machines and equipment without feeling the very real pinch to the pocket and without the potential need to divert funds away from other vital services, such as social care and emergency services.

Outsourcing ultimately enables companies to work with specialist service providers that are committed to the same high standards, and this ability to choose is continuing to enable public and private organisations to raise their own standards of services, whilst keeping costs under control. This, combined with the flexibility, reliability and availability of outsourced services, is continuing to play a major part in the success of many projects and obligations.


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