Osborne pre-election visit to heavy construction hub at Tilbury
Construction material supplier Travis Perkins received a visit from the Chancellor of the Exchequer at its new distribution centre in Tilbury, one of a number of ‘Range Centres’ it is opening across the country, allowing all its branches to offer next day delivery on any heavy-side product.
Each new distribution centre is creating a substantial number of new jobs for its local community – with recruitment already under way for over 500 jobs – so the new Tilbury Range Centre was the ideal venue for the Chancellor of the Exchequer to discuss the 2015 Budget. These opportunities are part of the 4,000 new jobs Travis Perkins has announced it will be creating over the next four years.
Cardiff’s 7,820 square metre (81,473 square feet) Range Centre opened in December 2014, joining the existing centre at Warrington, which stocks 2950 SKUs and has 140 members of staff on site. Two more Range Centres are set to follow, with Tilbury opening July 2015 and Coventry June 2016. Home to an extensive range of heavy side products, each Range Centre will supply hundreds of Travis Perkins branches, ensuring that every branch has immediate access to a much wider range of stock.
Thanks to these new centres, customers will benefit from increased heavy-side stock levels in all branches, along with the option of next day delivery on any unavailable products. The Range Centres deliver all orders overnight, so customers don’t have to worry about competing with delivery lorries for parking spaces.
Joel Brown, Group Supply Chain Development Manager at Travis Perkins, comments: “It was fantastic to receive a visit from George Osborne and celebrate all the job opportunities we are creating. At Travis Perkins we’re always striving to give our customers the best experience possible and we’re delighted to be able to offer next day delivery on all products, thanks to the new Range Centres. It’s great timing as our latest Travis Perkins catalogue has just launched, so our customers can now get all the latest products, no later than the day after they order them.”
In addition to the Range Centres, Travis Perkins has also opened a new hub for light side materials - the Omega Centre in Warrington will serve over 450 branches, and stock 19,000 SKUs. Dedicated to a selection of Travis Perkins plc businesses - CPS, Travis Perkins, PTS, Keyline, CCF and Benchmarx, the Group will be investing £600 million a year in this hub to provide customers with increased light-side stock levels and faster delivery.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”