Smart procurement pays off

February 24, 2016

Since 1 January, Heijmans has been carrying out maintenance work on roads, motorways, viaducts and bridges in the eastern part of North Brabant Province. The two-year contract is part of the variable maintenance programme VOC 1.1 2016-2017 with which Rijkswaterstaat (the Netherlands Directorate-General of Public Works and Water Management) encourages contractors to arrive at sustainable and innovative maintenance solutions. Such solutions cannot be found on your own. For this reason, and to achieve optimal maintenance, intensive cooperation is sought with subcontractors like transport company Millenaar & Van Schaik B.V. Wesley Kuijpers, Infrastructure Projects Procurement Manager at Heijmans, and Dirk-Jan van Schaik, co-owner of Millenaar & Van Schaik, talk about the creation of a fruitful cooperation.

A good click

Wesley remembers exactly why he made a phone call to Dirk-Jan in 2015. ‘Quality and knowledge is what we needed. At Heijmans, we are always looking for more efficient ways of cooperating with inspiring partners. Millenaar & Van Schaik is the largest asphalt transport company in the Netherlands, so I thought it would be interesting to have a chat with them.’ The two companies clicked and began working together on several small projects.


Dirk-Jan van Schaik (left) co-owner of Millenaar & Van Schaik together with Wesley Kuijpers, Procurement Manager at Heijmans.

Rijkswaterstaat tender

After a while, we received a tender from Rijkswaterstaat for the VOC contract. Heijmans involved the subcontractors Millenaar & Van Schaik, Nederlandse Frees Maatschappij and Wolfswinkel Reiniging even before the tender procedure. That was not common practice. Wesley: ‘Normally, Heijmans would take care of the tender procedure. We only outsource work once the contract has been awarded. We are in charge and tell the subcontractors what they have to do.’ This cooperation is different; we do things together. Dirk-Jan: ‘In this way, you can make optimal use of the expertise of all parties involved.’

A good subcontractor...

Transparency, knowledge and flexibility. These are the qualities a good subcontractor must have according to Wesley. Millenaar & Van Schaik have these qualities in house. Dirk Jan: ‘We have a digitized planning and billing system enabling you to see real time what is happening and how much it costs. Heijmans has access to it.’ Even substantive knowledge of transport is freely shared. Dirk-Jan: ‘For example, in the field of temporary storage when carrying out roadworks. Instead of immediately removing old debris, depots can be built alongside or on the road. Less lorries are then needed.’

'We have lots of trucks, but if transport by boat is better, then we rent boats.'

Sometimes the input of Millenaar & Van Schaik is not immediately in their own interest. Dirk-Jan: ‘We have very many lorries, but if transport is better by boat we will then hire boats. Perhaps it is less beneficial to us but it is certainly in the interest of all parties concerned.’ With a variable maintenance contract, it is also important that all parties are willing to do rush jobs and repair frost damage. But they must also be able to carry out large, plannable work.


Maintenance work on roads includes asphalt milling, removal of milled asphalt, sweeping and suction work, transport and processing of new asphalt, and the application of road markings. At the same time, work may be taking place on expansion joints or guard rails. All those activities closely follow each other up. A delay in one link will have consequences for the rest of the links in the chain. The cooperation is characterized therefore by extensive planning sessions; the contact persons of the four parties meet at regular intervals to consult with one another. Wesley: ‘How are we going to carry out the work, which method do we use, who deploys what, which agreements do we make in advance? Everything is discussed in detail.’


The contact persons are firmly involved in each other’s fields. Dirk-Jan: ‘Previously, I only looked at the transport issues. I did not get involved in the asphalt milling or asphalt application.’ This cooperation works differently: everyone looks from start to finish what the other is doing. And four people come to - sometimes simple - solutions. Dirk-Jan: ‘We may, for example, decide to asphalt a work surface the other way around, in the direction of the traffic instead of against the direction of the traffic to enable the sweeping and suction vehicles to clean faster.’ Wesley: ‘Dirk-Jan also consults with the other parties about the implementation method. Normally, Heijmans would do that.’ Cooperation of this nature requires a high degree of trust. Dirk-Jan: ‘You have to be able to tell each other what the situation is without fear of the client going to someone else the next day.’

Teamwork pays off

Cooperation instead of handing out or receiving assignments is quite a culture change, but it has major advantages. Dirk-Jan: ‘The lack of competition between the client and the subcontractor makes the atmosphere better.’ Wesley: ‘It’s all about teamwork instead of playing the boss. Everyone pulls together for the common interest.’ The goal is to get the work done faster, better and cheaper. This degree of efficiency also has great advantages in terms of sustainability. Wesley: ‘Because you optimize the implementation, vehicle mileages and machine operating hours are reduced. You economize on your milling materials and improve their reuse.’ In short: teamwork is not only better for the atmosphere and the wallet, it also benefits the environment.