Incremental Teams up with Thales to Receive UK Second Accreditation

York’s Incremental Teams up with Thales to Receive UK Second Accreditation

Thanks to a history of demonstrating a successful partnership through various ground-breaking projects to transform the performance of the rail industry, York-based tech pioneer Incremental and global leader in advanced technologies, Thales, are the second UK recipients of the Institute of Collaborative Working’s ISO 44003 Standard accreditation.

Awarded previously to only one other partnership across the globe, ISO 44003 is a European Standard that involves a structured approach to sharing resources, experience and skills. Awarded to both companies involved, the standard’s process is supported by a method of creating and delivering joint solutions to benefit an industry and is the first to be awarded in the rail industry. This is an evolvement of ISO 44001’s certification that demonstrates that the businesses’ relationships and processes are in synergy, and as a result, are truly collaborative.

Following a relationship built over several years, including the creation and delivery of innovative, digital solutions such as FOAS (Fibre Optic Acoustic Sensing), Incremental and Thales can now showcase how they successfully collaborate to bring projects that create a better railway to fruition.

When the Institute of Collaborative Working announced the launch of IS0 44003 last September, David Taylor, Thales’ Mainline Rail Account Director, immediately responded to the appeal to run the pilot scheme with York’s Incremental. The two companies had already worked together on several projects, launching innovative data-driven location tracking software for the rail industry.

Incremental’s Co-founder and CEO, Dan Lee-Bursnall, was keen to work together on the scheme, designed to benefit Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) through collaborative working, and would see Thales and Incremental as the first to achieve the standard in the UK.

David Taylor, Account Director, Mainline Rail for Thales, comments:
“We realised early in our working relationship with Incremental, that there is real synergy between our two companies, regardless of the fact that Thales is a major global brand, and Incremental is a small enterprise. The whole ethos the Incremental team has is very akin to our own. We like to get things done, efficiently and effectively, and we’ve established a high level of trust between our teams who are comfortable enough to challenge each other and introduce new ways of working to deliver better, more cost-effective solutions to our rail customers.

“When I realised that there would be an opportunity to demonstrate collaborative working through the new IS44003 Standard, I instantly thought of Incremental. Our visions are aligned, and Incremental works in a very agile way, exactly how our Research and Development projects are managed. We enjoy working with the team, who are passionate and proactive, and this was the perfect opportunity to better both our organisations and create a blue print for not only the rail industry, but for how global organisations work with MSMEs across any sector.”

Dan Lee-Bursnall, Founder and CEO of Incremental, comments:
“We’ve been incredibly fortunate to be given the opportunity to work alongside the Thales team. They saw the potential in us from day one, and recognised we would be a worthy partner to create and deliver a number of projects, as well as the ISO 44003 scheme.

“We have both achieved successes in our fields and it feels like a natural partnership, with open and honest communication at its heart. The challenges SMEs face in the rail industry are widely known, a key one is being able to find the right people to speak to and get decisions made. Through our collaboration we have seen a real shift in the speed we can deliver projects thanks to the relationship we have with the Thales team.

“We have a joint respect for each other on both a personal and professional level, that through the accreditation of the ISO 44003 Standard, has developed into a mentoring role between us. We work so well together that we’re putting forward a joint team to carry out the 3 Peaks Challenge later this year!”

Following a certificate presentation at Incremental’s York office, John, Osborne, Associate Director of the Institute for Collaborative Working, comments:
“The partnership between Incremental and Thales is a true reflection of collaboration at its best. The way the two companies work together to bring out the best in each other is something the Institute is delighted to endorse through its validation scheme based on the principles contained within the  ISO 44003 Standard. As one of the first companies in the UK to receive the certificate, this demonstrates the commitment Thales and Incremental have shown to support the journey and progression of an SME, as well as Thales using the opportunity to reflect on the way it works and improve its own practices in the process. We’re thrilled to award the teams the certificate and look forward to seeing how they take this even further forward in the future.”

James Brewer, Head of Rail Supply Chains at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, says:
‘I’m delighted that Incremental and Thales are the first rail recipients of the ISO 44003 Standard. The accreditation supports our strategy to encourage SMEs to seek access to supply chains within industries such as rail, which can prove challenging for new entrants. The Rail Sector Deal between government and industry highlights the importance of greater collaboration across the supply chain, so it’s very important that we have this tangible example of an award winning UK SME partnering with an established global company of Thales’ calibre to show how it should be done; one for others to follow, as we strive towards providing better railways for the country’s rail customers.”

Charles Storr, Economy and Enterprise Manager for City of York Council, says:
“As one of the first companies in the UK to receive this accreditation, Incremental and Thales are putting York on the map as an example of collaborative working that can truly benefit small businesses operating in a huge sector, such as rail. With our commitment as a city to be the home of Great British Railways, this is testament to our ability to lead the way within the industry and we’re very proud that it’s happening right here in York.”

Joint projects includes the Automated Rail Geospatial Observation System, and the Fibre Optic Acoustic Sensing (FOAS) research and development, focused on use cases which include using the capability of Fibre Optic Telecoms infrastructure to cost effectively provide accurate train movement and position reporting, rail wheel and defects identification and trespass or trackside presence detection. Capabilities that will ultimately improve the reliability of both passenger and freight rail services delivery.

Further information

The principle aim of the scheme is to enhance the narrative between selected MSMEs and their customers, to improve collaborative working by increasing the level of understanding, addressing barriers, and exploring opportunities this creates. This activity is intended to be undertaken by those within the customer base that already have an ongoing dialogue with their MSME communities and will demonstrate that they harness collaborative working.

The benefits are felt by both sides throughout the process of achieving the standard, while Thales offers the wisdom of experience and guidance through the levels needed to achieve it, also has the chance to look at its own ways of working and assess any improvements that can be made.

The accreditation’s ‘badge of honour’ demonstrates to future potential customers that the teams are truly collaborative and ensure this is at the core of everything they do.

Thales and Incremental are collaborating in several areas, on a number of joint rail related research and development initiatives, some led by Thales and others led by Incremental.

Moving Forwards

With the ISO accreditation achieved, the relationship will develop even further and both teams are thrilled to gain the certification. The benefits it will bring to both organisations include access to wider markets, a more formal collaborative relationship, generating good ideas between the two and the enhanced reputation of both companies.

The two companies share the aim to create and deliver the best innovative solutions to the rail industry, improving safety, punctuality and reliability by bringing them together to showcase how a collaborative working relationship can be a great success.