Interview with Maxine Mayhew
As AMP7 approaches, water companies are under growing pressure to look beyond the traditional reliance on building new assets. While facing new challenges on several fronts, not least climate change and population growth, they must also step up to the requirements laid down by Ofwat on customer service, affordable bills, innovation and resilience.
To do so demands creative solutions, and the water companies are increasingly looking to contractors to supply the answers. Costain is working to ensure it is well-placed to provide them.
Having switched emphasis to become a ‘smart infrastructure solutions company’, Costain is seeking to help steer the industry towards a more efficient future, and its water sector director, Maxine Mayhew, says greater innovation is the only way to deliver what is required.
“Our purpose at Costain is all about improving people’s lives through deploying technology-based engineering solutions,” Mayhew says. “Our water ambition is very much aligned to that – working with our customers to help create the future of water.
“There are three major challenges facing the industry and they’re around capacity, resilience and customer service, but that comes at a time when there’s a demand for decreasing cost, so as we work with our customers to meet these challenges through outcome-based contracts, you get a real opportunity to innovate and integrate technology.
“Incremental change won’t bring the improvements that are needed across capacity, resilience and customer service. What we need is a real step change in the solutions to drive the outcomes.”
Understanding and optimising assets becomes increasingly important, with data set to play a big part in water companies’ thinking in AMP7.
“One key part of driving innovation and better outcomes is about utilising the assets that already exist in a better way,” she says. “To do that you need to understand that asset and be able to use that data to optimise how it works, what it delivers, and when it needs an intervention to improve it or maintain it.”
Mayhew expresses pride in the speed with which Costain has increased its use of technology in solution design development and delivery automation as well as intelligent asset optimisation, but she stresses that construction remains a vital part of the business.
“The key is about thinking how we can best deliver the outcome, because that’s what our customers need – an outcome,” she says. “Sometimes you can deliver that outcome by making existing assets work more efficiently, sometimes you can do it by using the data analytics to optimise assets intelligently, and sometimes you will need to repair or build a new asset.
“We’re trying to make sure we have an end-to-end, integrated set of solutions. Construction - or complex delivery - is still core to what we do, but what we’re seeing is it can be increasingly a smaller part of the overall solution development.”
Click here to read the full article, first published in Wet News July 2018.