Vector Control Tower - Going Beyond!

In some ways, Vector is like a busy airport – delivering nearly 60 million cases per year to more than 6 700 customer drop points, through a nationwide network that includes 4 plant-based cold stores and 14 distribution sites. Planning and managing all this activity every day is a complex task – but now it’s about to get faster, easier and better with the launch of our very own Vector Control Tower.

Like an airport control tower, the Vector Control Tower will direct all our transport operations from a central control point situated at Vector Thekwini in Durban. This means that one multidisciplinary team will plan and track all our inbound primary and our outbound secondary transport from one location – and they’ll be aided by technology that gives better visibility and allows for smarter decision making.

The 140-member Control Tower team includes the primary and secondary planning and tracking teams, the primary management accounting team, the majority of the call centre teams nationally, the EDI team and the network planning team. They now sit in cross-functional ‘pods’ which mean that call centre agents sit next to transport trackers and inbound execution agents – so a customer can make one call and find out exactly what the status of their order is. “This will go a long way towards enhancing the customer experience from a communication point of view, as well as from an OTIF (on time, in full) delivery point of view. It also means that we can go a step further and generate supply chain intelligence which can benefit both us and our customers,” says Vector MD Chris Creed.  

One control tower, many benefits

The original vision of the Control Tower was to optimise transport routes and trucks to save costs and create a leaner, more customer-focused organisation. For example, given the potential for synergies between the primary and secondary transport teams, it made sense to integrate the two functions whose planning, tracking and intelligence had previously been separated.

But the Control Tower had the potential to play an even greater role in the total supply chain solution offered by Vector. It now forms part of a ‘centre of excellence’ that will not only optimise customers’ transport, routing and tracking, but provide our existing customers with valuable supply chain intelligence. This is because the network can not only be controlled from one point, but what’s going on in the network can be ‘seen’ from one point too, thanks to digitisation.

“Because we are lifting information technologically and not manually, we can function with more speed, accuracy and insight. For example we can predict what the consequences will be across the supply chain of a short delivery in one area – and then take steps to mitigate an out-of-stock situation, keeping the customer happy. In this way we can turn data into intelligence, and intelligence into action which drives better value for us and our customers. By driving optimal opportunities for transport planning and intelligence both within and outside our network, we can keep Going Beyond – right from flawless execution of the basics to enhancing efficiencies and innovating ahead of the game,” says Chris. 

Our Vector Control Tower in action