Thinking down the line
East Midlands Derby-based Tidyco (UK) Ltd, a supplier of hydraulic and pneumatic products to the rail industry for over 40 years, here discusses the importance that SMEs play within the wider industry and how best to address the needs of OEMs and on-going rolling stock maintenance requirements.

According to the Rail Supply Groups fast track for growth objectives with regards to SMEs;

“SMEs are the heartbeat of the British economy, accounting for 99% of all UK businesses, 59% of employment and 48% of turnover. They are a vibrant source of innovation, have the capacity for high growth, are versatile and thrive in changing markets. In order to leverage that dynamism, we need to accelerate the growth of incumbent SMEs…”

When considering the importance that SMEs play within an extremely diverse supply chain structure, it is prudent for such organisations to adopt policies, procedures and best working practices so as to comfortably supply larger institutions.

A useful tactic for SMEs to deploy is to spend some considerable time thinking about the needs of their clients, how best to service them whilst eliminating the pain felt by engineers, procurement as well as the Board of a larger company.

Equally important is a consideration for the future of rail coupled with the necessity of continuous improvement. Not an easy task, but… Tidyco is thinking down the line!

When thinking about its OEM client portfolio, Tidyco highlights what it feels is important to them. A typical scenario may include:

• Quality

• Cost Savings in Use and Long Term Cost Saving Benefits

• Supplier Efficiency Gain Plans

• Safety

• End User Experience

• Reliability and Flexibility


• Industry Future-Proofing

• Continuous Improvement, Innovation and R&D

• Commercial Sensitivity

Of course, this is very much a flexible strategy created in a bespoke manner so as to cater for individual client needs, goals and objectives. Core pillars are jointly agreed and the appropriate action taken.

Following quality down the line

Important for Tidyco to understand is an OEMs need to be supplied with a high quality product so as to increase rolling stock running time between service intervals, allowing for greater vehicle efficiency gains and longer-term cost savings. Extending rolling stock on-track function reduces critical down time and frequency of costly depot overhaul and repair.

Tidyco addresses this challenge by partnering with a trusted global brand, renowned for its reputation for quality; empowering the UK manufacture of a robust, fit for purpose product. Tidyco truly operates in a glocal market and encourages other SMEs to do the same.

It is wise not to overlook the value of ISO 9001 accreditation. Undergoing intensive external audits to ensure that quality standards are upheld and continuously improved helps to instil confidence within a customers mind.

CPD (Continuous Professional Development) should be actively encouraged throughout every SME so as to demonstrate a highly experienced service provision.

Tidyco believes that stringent quality control procedures; whereby product manufacture is acutely inspected, documented and reported at each stage of the production process is extremely valuable to its OEM customer base. Furthermore, applying this process to all overhaul and maintenance requirements ensures that such projects run smoothly whilst adhering to pre-defined SLA’s.

Prior to dispatch, Tidyco goods undergo an intensive fail-safe final inspection ensuring that items will perform both safely and to maximum efficiency.

Keeping assets moving since 1973

When an SME realises that working with larger organisations is very much a partnership approach, the company is then able to ramp up the gears in terms of becoming a value added solutions based service provider as opposed to being purely transactional driven.

Such partnership approaches include working with OEMs to ensure measurability. As an example, Tidyco designs joint projects with its customers so as to implement activities to analyse, improve, measure and report overall cost savings, reduced downtime, increased running service as per jointly owned strategic aims. Of course, such transparency can be reported to Board level, critical for personnel within a larger organisation tasked with the responsibility of developing a list of preferred suppliers.

The ability for an SME to fulfil an increase in consumer demand raises the issue of the requirement to up-skill, upgrade and expand. As a large organisation makes plans to grow or is awarded a high value contract, the SME supplier must be flexible and adaptive enough to grow in relational value alongside its client. Of course, this must be done in a precautionary manner and contingency plans will need to be implemented so as to nurture overall aspects of SME profit and loss so as not to become reliant on one singular contract.

SMEs should quite rightly be ambitious regarding expansion but, it is best advised to be sensitive towards steady growth reinforced with appropriately managed profitability.

Tidyco is empathetic towards supplier consolidation. The company offers an array of additional service provisions through an eclectic mix of divisions. For example, the Tidyco Climate Control division delivers complete HVAC system design, supply, installation and planned/reactive maintenance which can be very beneficial to TMDs as well as office buildings. The ability to supply reactive mobile hose replacement services supported by permanent on-site hydraulics solutions accommodates for diversity within organisational scope of supply.

Stay on-track with end user safety

Wherever an SME ‘sits’ within the overall supply chain, ultimately; end user safety is paramount. SMEs must address the H&S requirements of both immediate customers as well as end user.

Tidyco implements a stringent Health & Safety Management Programme within its scope of supply. Products are delivered to market in compliance with industry standard regulations. Visibility is of great importance to all stakeholders and as such, it is wise to ensure that all inspection procedures are fully documented, filed and available for immediate reporting.


Understanding passengers needs

Measurable enhanced running time ensuring maximum fleet productivity as well as safety critical braking systems contributes towards the overall end user experience.

It is the responsibility of each and every SME within the wider supply chain to find a shared vision for exceeding the passengers need.

There are many SMEs that form part of the complete rolling stock parts and equipment supply; therefore, it is imperative that all organisations work together in ascertaining a true understanding of overall passenger experience.


Ticking the boxes for reliability and flexibility

Tidyco has all necessary infrastructures so as to supply OEMs and depots with a consistently on-time service provision. Additionally, the company operates a mobile hose replacement service suitable for reactive requirements. Other solutions include an on-site presence so as to react in ‘real time’ whilst minimising delay and carbon due to travel.

Technology plays an important role towards being both reliable as well as flexible. Real time vehicle tracking and engineer allocation capability helps both the environment whilst simultaneously delivering a timely service.


On a roll with CSR

Equally important, is the need for suppliers to address and comply with Corporate Social Responsibility obligations. CSR continues to be of significant importance regarding how businesses can best operate in an ethical manner, so as to minimise environmental impact and the way in which the supply chain supports its combined communities.

Tidyco has published a dedicated CSR manual, enforced by stringent policies and procedures to address the ethical needs of the corporate organisations that it services.

The initial process of compiling CSR documentation can be both time consuming as well as intensive but; the end result demonstrates an ability to work in an ethical manner with larger corporations.

CSR should be transparent; The Tidyco CSR statement of intent is available within the public domain, available for PDF download from the corporate website as well as digital publication, complete with embedded video content.


The future of rail

Industry longevity and progression will be threatened if SMEs fail to acknowledge the need to encourage the future of rail into the work force. Partnering with local educational establishments on dedicated apprenticeship schemes will support continuing industrial growth. Social media channels are a great way of encouraging an emerging work force into the wider industry.

CPD should be applied to each employee as experience must also be nurtured. Additionally, SMEs are encouraged to agitate innovation and R&D.


Managing big data

Tidyco is ICO registered and more recently has obtained the Government fuelled Cyber Essentials certification so as to ensure all commercial data is as secure as can be. Tidyco is GDPR ready.

Big data is a topical concern with digital compromise feeling even more tangible considering recent global cyber attacks. Taking a look at the LIVE Norse map highlights exactly how real the threat is and the disruptive influence it can have on businesses of all sizes. Ignoring cyber defence and the protection of big data can and does genuinely damage profitability whilst potentially disrupting the industry with catastrophic downtime. Cyber defence isn’t just confined to the public sector and large, multinational corporations; it cripples SMEs, too. If Tidyco can combat cyber crime, so can you!

2-sec is a reputable service provider, capable of assisting establishments of all sizes to gain Cyber Essentials. Such certification highlights an SMEs ability to fully embrace current online threats.


Scheduled industry support

There is a multitude of industry support available for SMEs, all on-hand to offer guidance, training as well as lucratively beneficial networking events.

Tidyco personally values engagement with Rail Forum East Midlands (RFEM), Rail Alliance, Department for International Trade (DIT), East Midlands Chamber of Commerce and Marketing Derby, to name but a few. These organisations have truly supported the company in its endeavours and continue to truly open channels of wider communication to larger companies within the rail industry.

Highly credible too, is the opportunity to ascertain certification with the UK manufacturers’ organisation EEF through Rail Alliance membership.

There is a great deal of activity within the overall field of manufacture for SMEs to capitalise upon, including the Industrial Strategy. Closer to home, Tidyco is excited about the prospects of the East Midlands Gateway programme and already has an on-site presence.

Maximising the support provision of relevant bodies empowers SMEs to grasp profitable commercial opportunities.

It involves time, resources and commitment but SMEs should be open to the true value of integrating appropriately skilled and passionate employees within wider industry engagement.

Don’t forget trade and local press, they can be great allies. All encompassing stakeholder engagement is critical for on-going growth.

Brand advocacy is no longer confined to larger corporate institutions. Thanks to the power and persuasion of current social communication, entwined with an understanding of Stakeholder Engagement Point (SEP) marketing; SMEs now have the ability to raise corporate identity awareness to unprecedented levels, engage with all stakeholders, grow brand advocacy whilst obtaining influential colleagues and industry friends throughout the process.


Understanding the destination

Ultimately, SMEs need to implement systems and processes which will empower them to be a trustworthy contender for the supply of products and services to both larger organisations as well as the public sector.

Tidyco’s very own marketing manager, Barry has spent many years nurturing relationships between private limited and public sector institutions. Adopting a ‘bigger picture’ approach to internal policies will assist profitable growth within a market that genuinely yearns to work with SMEs so as to capitalise upon the innovative, flexible and creative attributes that smaller businesses have to offer.

Our journey

Here; Paul Jacks, rail director and James Tidy, managing director for Tidyco provide a brief overview of corporate aims and objectives.

“Tidyco strategically collaborates and engages with key decision makers within the rail industry, with the aim of maintaining sustainable growth through superior customer service, quality, reliability, innovation and commitment.

Adopting best practice manufacturing techniques and using single source, superior quality components, Tidyco has a proven track record of improving rail asset reliability, increasing service life and reducing cost.”

Paul Jacks, rail director for Tidyco

Mob: 07714 676 624



“Delivering excellence and providing an exceptional customer journey is at the very core of our values and working ethics.

We employ a team of fantastic professionals, maintaining training to the highest of standards. Equally important too, is our investment in the latest technology, equipment and innovation.”

James Tidy, managing director for Tidyco

Tel: 01332 851 300


About the author

Barry Aldridge MCIM

Head of Marketing at Tidyco Limited and member of the Board of Directors for Midlands Rail Forum.