RS Industry Sector Manager for Transportation and Defence, Greg Sharp, shares his insights into current MRO trends in these sectors

Greg Sharp joined RS at the end of 2021 after a career in engineering and manufacturing. He heads up the Transportation and Defence Industries team, supporting organisations in aerospace, automotive, rail and defence. It’s a role that requires Sharp to have a high level, holistic understanding of the organisations he is responsible for.

Recently the Connected Thinking team caught up with Sharp to find out about the key issues within Maintenance, Repair and Operations (MRO) in transport and defence and what organisations within these sectors are looking for from indirect procurement suppliers.

Many thanks for your time, Greg. Can you begin by telling us what transportation and defence organisations want from MRO suppliers right now?
“More than anything else, they’re requesting strong supply chains. Globalisation and the ways things used to operate don’t work so well now. Having seen so much volatility linked to the coronavirus pandemic, inflation, geopolitical unrest and energy costs, customers are looking for shorter and stronger supply chains.

"Businesses are looking for shorter and stronger supply chains"Greg Sharp, Industry Sector Manager, RS

“RS is well placed to meet this request because of our highly organised logistics. We’ve large stocks in place and have good relationships with our supply partners.

“While we can’t fix the wider issues and root causes, what we can do is continue to support businesses by ensuring there’s a robust supply chain and help them with operational savings with our value-added solutions.”

Are there any industry specific PPE requirements for transportation and defence organisations?
“The types of equipment that people are working on in these sectors means that protection against electric static discharge (ESD) can be important.

“There’s also a push for PPE featuring the corporate identity. Branded workwear is becoming a popular item and RS Safety Solutions can really help to meet that demand.”

How important is Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) within transport and defence?
“Since June 2020, there’s been legislation in place stipulating that all tenders related to central government, as those for transport and defence often are, must have a 10% mandatory weighting for social value – although the expected norm is actually 20%.

"We do a lot of work to demonstrate social value"Greg Sharp, Industry Sector Manager, RS

“Thanks to our ESG and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) plans, RS is in a good place in this respect. We do a lot of work to really demonstrate social value on a local level as that’s what our customers are looking for, not an overarching national project or contributing to schools through a STEM project. It’s about detailed local initiatives.

“Customers are now also coming to us to support them on their journey with ESG. We have experts within the business who can help them to get from where they are to where they need to be on issues such as gender equality.

Which of the RS services are being most widely adopted within these sectors – and how do they help transportation and defence organisations?
“First of all, it’s worth mentioning the RS Pro product range. RS Pro is the largest supplier in this sector. Customers appreciate the quality, value and choice that are the backbone of the RS Pro brand.

“Our value-added services are also a critical differentiator between us and our competitors. Whilst the individual solutions are not unique, the complete package of solutions and the way that we do it is. We turn up the dial on added value wherever possible, with offerings such as eProcurement system RS PurchasingManager®, the RS PunchOut tool that integrates into in-house e-procurement systems and the RS Pro online catalogue.

“With our digital solutions, customers get a great experience and real ease of purchasing.

Do you know why there is such widespread adoption of eProcurement within transportation and defence?
“I think it’s partly about the scale of these businesses. They are big organisations with complex structures and when you have lots of sites all over the place, driving efficiency, automation and control of purchasing is important.

"Digital solutions allow procurement managers to handle the purchasing process more effectively"Greg Sharp, Industry Sector Manager, RS

“These kinds of digital solutions allow procurement managers to manage the purchasing process more effectively, whether that’s because they have a commercial agreement in place with a specific supplier or because there is a technical reason for wanting to use a certain product rather than another. In this context, RS PurchasingManager® is a great fit and works well.”

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