Collaboration cuts cost for Vodafone

Mobile phone operator Vodafone has been working in partnership for over 15 years with UTL, a partnership that has seen the company take increasing responsibility for the distribution, car kit installation, repair and refurbishment of Vodafone handsets and accessories. Collaboration between the two firms has enabled Vodafone’s logistics operation to evolve from a multi-site operation to a single, purpose built site – opened in the West Midlands in 2006 – providing a variety of value-added services.

Utilising the Unipart Way, a set of techniques that include quality circles, standard operating procedures and continuous feedback, was a key tool in gaining efficiencies for Vodafone, whilst implementing the single site solution to handle a variety of integrated services including forward and reverse logistics, repairs and refurbishments, customer relations and kit installations.

The mobile phone business is faster moving than many other industries, which is why the one-stop shop to carry out pre and post sales logistics was created. UTL are proactive, deliver on time and are excellent at change. UTL works hard to reduce waste; scrutinising work processes to reduce the amount of times a product has to be handled, designing and redesigning workstations to cut out unnecessary actions and revamping IT systems so that tasks can be performed with the fewest number of clicks.

The end-to-end service covers all aspects of Vodafone’s logistics, beginning with inbound deliveries from around the world. Products are booked in, tested and made available for distribution within two hours of reaching the site.

Each year, the 300,000 sq ft warehouse despatches some 6m handsets to stores run by Vodafone, retailers, corporate customers and consumers, the Vodafone relationships with whom are managed through a call centre that is also run by UTL. The distribution process, organised by an in-house warehouse management system, is under continuous development.

With such a large concentration of high value products, security is a paramount concern. On site, phones are tracked by means of their identifying IMEI numbers, so that missing handsets can be immediately blocked. Employees must pass through airport style security checks that involve scanning and searches, while the perimeter fences around the site are protected by motion sensors.

The result has been savings for Vodafone of many millions of pounds. For example, a project to track and make use of assets such as accessories and components reduced costs by £1m in a year. In another example of the benefits of working so closely together; customer satisfaction surveys carried out by UTL have been used to redesign logistics processes to present products and services in a manner that customers prefer.

The range of work carried out by UTL is increasing all the time. One of the highest scoring activities, according to customer satisfaction surveys, is now the company’s car kit installation service, which involves managing a national team of engineers and a call centre operation.

UTL has grown a world class facility incorporating the fastest growing repair centre in the UK delivering excellent results, benefiting Vodafone UK, as well as their customers. Further efficiencies have been achieved by integrating the forward and reverse logistics operations, so that broken handsets are collected for repair at the same time as new handsets are delivered to stores.

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As operators of the UK’s Largest Mobile Phone Repair Centre, we successfully repair over 100,000 devices per month.