The competitive business landscape and ever-changing needs of customers are reshaping traditional supply chains today. With globalization and organizations looking to extend their geographical scope for lower-cost sourcing options and emerging markets, the complexity of supply chains has increased. The increase in outsourcing makes effective collaboration with partners imperative for efficient supply chain operations.
In addition to these complexities, organizations have continuous pressure to improve their profit margins and increase revenue. Supply chain executives are often under enormous pressure to cater to the needs of their customers while optimizing their supply chain operations cost-efficiently. These critical business challenges drive the need to create solid end-to-end capabilities for supply chain visibility.
Supply chain visibility is the most vital enabler for managing businesses both within the organizational boundaries and across the boundaries. Visibility across processes, right from the receipt of an order to its delivery, provides the flexibility, speed, and reliability to gain a competitive advantage in the form of well-controlled supply chain functions.
Supply chain control towers embody the leading principles of supply chain visibility to address this need. It integrates data from multiple sources to provide end-to-end visibility across the supply chain, improve resiliency, and respond faster to unplanned events. A control tower in the supply chain helps organizations prioritize, resolve, and understand critical issues in real-time.
Current state and phases in supply chain visibility
Supply chain visibility, in short, includes the process of how organizations capture data and interconnect it to retrieve the vital supply chain execution information. It provides a comprehensive view for tracking information, material, or cost by monitoring the main dimensions in a global supply chain, such as inventory positions or shipment status or real-time order movements, to make well-informed decisions based on facts.
Many logistics organizations have implemented or are in the process of adopting solutions for supply chain visibility. However, they reflect different phases of maturity. The maturity level is identified by the associated processes, skills, and tools involved.
Leading practices for supply chain visibility
A successful solution for supply chain visibility is deployed around five main principles for a holistic view of the inbound and outbound operations.
Understanding Control tower
Control Towers are cross-divisional organizations with integrated “information hubs” to provide supply chain visibility. These hubs gather and distribute information, allowing people trained to handle these capabilities to identify and act on risks/opportunities more quickly.
It provides end-to-end visibility to all the participants involved in supply chain logistics. These may include manufacturers, distribution centers/warehouses, logistics, shippers, carriers, 3PL, 4PL, and store-end customers.
A control tower helps capture and correlate relevant supply chain data from all entities involved in the operation, be it freight details, inventory positions, or transportation parameters. It supports real-time update capabilities with the help of the latest technologies like IoT and predictive analytics to monitor possible supply chain disruptions in goods movement or material shortages. In short, control towers help implement a centralized decision-making system that focuses solely on fulfilling the end user’s needs.
The importance of control tower in logistics
A control tower provides round-the-clock visibility, enabling real-time feedback to customers through video, voice, or text. In short, a control tower in logistics operation offers greater reassurance and efficiency, irrespective of time zones, office hours, or holidays.
A control tower implementation is managed by a team of supply chain experts, who monitors the movement of goods throughout the supply chain. The freight movement data is then collected and analyzed to ensure that the essential service requirements are met. This data can be used to prevent potential disruptions or take corrective actions.
A team of highly experienced professionals then makes decisions based on the real-time information obtained to ensure that all service commitments are met and that customers remain happy and satisfied. The customer can follow up on special requirements concerning their cargo, such as temperature control, time constraints, or relevant security/customs clearances.
Key benefits of control tower in logistics
The control tower is pivotal for effective supply chain management. They help manage any unpredictable, potential disruptions in supply chain operations. They enable better planning, decision-making, proactive event management, improvement of the performance of supply chain partners, and sophisticated supply chain analytics.
Some of the benefits of a control tower while streamlining dynamic management of the supply chain are as follows:
- Enhancing logistics operations
- A control tower platform can be configured to help manufacturers gain better insights into retaining supplies and raw materials.
- Help carriers enhance their ability to fulfill orders quickly for customers.
- Reduce Inventory
- Speed up detection and reaction times
- Achieve end-to-end visibility
- Control tower systems provide details on freight movement to multiple stakeholders involved in the logistics world.
- Correlate data across siloed systems to provide actionable insights and manage exceptions
- Improve service levels such as total cycle time and on-time delivery
- Better insights and accurate information help companies improve their delivery rates. An optimized control tower helps them achieve this critical goal.
- Reducing costs
- Every business looks to optimize its profits, and in most cases, this is achieved by reducing costs of operation and goods.
The need for a quick response is more significant than ever before. Organizations need actionable recommendations derived from intelligent strategic inputs to respond quickly and effectively to mitigate risks and unforeseen circumstances. Control towers plan, monitor, measure, and control logistics in real-time to deliver compelling, essential strategic capabilities and cost efficiencies.
Here are some pointers to ensure the successful implementation of control towers in your organization:
- Ensure standardization
To fully realize the benefits of a control tower, it is necessary to harmonize all the processes that it is mandated to control. Hence the first step of implementation should be to define integration standards among all the actors involved in the operation, i.e., manufacturers, assembly lines, warehouses, logistics, delivery stores, and customers.
- Central oversight, local execution
Maintaining a balance between central oversight and local coordination for execution is crucial in bringing in the required business knowledge for building robust solutions for day-to-day operations. It enables the field to use the insights and act based on ground realities.
- Multifunctional involvement
Establish a successful control tower implementation by including representatives from all relevant functions. They should also be given a clear idea of the individual benefits and working across the system.
Ensure a “feasibility-first” approach over the theoretical best practices to help deliver a control tower solution that fulfills all the preset objectives within a reasonable time frame.
- Knowing when to stop
It is always essential to keep an eye on the returns and avoid any adoption efforts that provide a low return.
Break free from visibility challenges with control tower solutions from Trigent
The recent pandemic and disruptions induced by the current digital transformation wave have put logistics organizations under immense pressure to perform. The highly experienced team at Trigent provides comprehensive and customized solutions to ensure end-to-end visibility while streamlining your supply chain operations.