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Increasing efficiency through design standardisation

Co-op is one of the UK’s longest established and best known food retail brands. It has a property portfolio of around 3,000 buildings and commissioned hundreds of mostly unique pieces of equipment a year, costing millions in capital expenditure. Because of the lack of standardisation, the client was having issues with non-uniform sizes for planning, extended/unpredictable lead times and unpredictable final costs.


We were asked to simplify and standardise the designs for high risk, high value plant to go into up to 500 projects per year. The designs needed to address and mitigate the current risks of unpredictable costs and timescales, and an ever-increasing complexity of asset portfolio.


We began by investigating the current situation and mapping this against the client’s objectives, to make sure we had a thorough understanding of the brief. This enabled us to identify the opportunity for standardisation and we were able to set about designing a new, approved solution and design methodology. Having defined a new specification, we provided technical support during the procurement process and assessment of the new supply chain. The process is now in its fourth year of use.


The headline outcome was a reduction in CAPEX of more than 20%. The new supply chain brought further savings of up to £4m and other improvements included shorter lead times, uniform maintenance and the ability to carry out improved feasibility studies. In addition, the improved specification resulted in greater energy efficiency, lower noise output and a smaller footprint.

Consultant’s insight

It may seem like common sense but standardisation in practice requires in-depth technical knowledge to enable focus to fall on the right details while maintaining a macro view of the big picture – and enabling the two to find a harmonious sweet spot. The results can be dramatic, with specification, performance, price and value being improved, whilst maintaining technical assurance and avoiding the pitfall of simply reducing cost.

Ready to explore the benefits of standardisation? Talk to Livingstone today.