THE SME FACTOR

By Matt Felce, technical manager of MVIS and Bartco UK

When looking for a corporate partner to facilitate the development or delivery of an ITS solution, it can be tempting to favour one of the big names in the industry; big names can engender instant confidence in both supplier and customer.

 

Yet MVIS and Bartco UK have repeatedly reaped considerable benefits from their partnerships with ITS SMEs. Not only have our SME alliances been advantageous at project level, but we are confident that ultimately, they also help to promote industry-wide innovation.

 

SMEs have an agility that enables them to act quickly in the face of a new contract, to briskly respond to the changing demands both of the customer and the market, and to readily explore new ways in which their products can be utilised.

 

Over the last five years, we have developed long-standing working relationships with a network of trusted individuals within our partner organisations.  It seems that SMEs are able to maintain particularly stable workforces – we certainly do – and working with people you know and trust promotes efficiency and job satisfaction.

 

The SMEs with which we have worked have always been able to focus their resource on our projects, as we haven’t had to compete for their attention against a multitude of far larger contracts.

 

We’ve worked with SRL Traffic Systems for five years, and the relationship generates many mutual benefits as a result of the SME status of both parties.  Not only have we made our resource available to one another – we supply SRL with portable VMS with full access to its nationwide network of 21 depots – we’re also working in partnership on product development too.

 

When SRL identified a demand for a small VMS capable of integration with its portable traffic lights, it was quickly able to act on this opportunity, and approached Bartco UK to partner it on the project.  Bartco UK too was able to respond with agility, and the HD Quattro was born.

 

When SME ITS solutions creator Clearview Intelligence required temporary VMS to integrate with its own journey time solution, we responded briskly, therefore enabling the company to rapidly deliver a solution that met the client’s short timescales.

 

We were recently awarded a smart motorway job, the fulfilment of which required a larger consignment of radar equipment than we had available, due to ongoing contracts.  SME radar manufacturer Wavetronix was quickly able to hire the equipment to us so that we could deliver on time.

 

SME partnerships can serve not only to efficiently deliver individual projects, but also to promote the growth of the companies concerned.  While MVIS forwards enquiries for permanent ITS installations to Wavetronix, Wavetronix reciprocates by directing those for temporary solutions to MVIS.

 

And as individual SMEs grow, so too does the sector as a whole.  Competition is promoted, breeding innovation and increasing service levels for the benefit of all.  SMEs have a crucial role to play in the development of the ITS industry as well as the delivery of individual projects; ignore them at your peril.