Control Tower in Logistics – Optimizing operational cost with end-to-end supply chain visibility

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.

Also read: How supply chain visibility is reducing operational costs in logistics

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.

Achieve end-to-end supply chain visibility and optimize operational costs with control tower solutions from Trigent. Contact us now!

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 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.

Implementation approach

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. 

  • Pragmatism

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.

End-to-end visibility and significant cost reduction for our customers have made Control Tower solutions a critical service in our offerings. Book a consultation with us to know more.

Enable Transparent Tracking with NextGen Technologies for Cold Chain Logistics

Even as globalization has made the world a smaller place, the physical separation of the different regions still remains an important reality, especially when it pertains to the movement of goods. The greater this physical separation, greater are the odds of the consignment getting damaged.

This is even more true when it relates to the transportation of perishable goods. Hence, efficient cold chains have become an essential part of the modern supply chain to transport vital, sensitive cargo over great distances and through diverse climatic conditions.

For the range of supplies labeled as perishables, particularly pharmaceuticals and food (produces), quality expires with time as they maintain chemical reactions, which can mostly be alleviated with lower temperatures. Cold chain logistics have evolved with the growing demand for temperature-controlled logistics to transport consumable goods over great distances safely.

It takes coordination and time to move a shipment efficiently. Every delay can have negative consequences. To ensure that the loads do not become compromised or damaged at any point during this process, businesses in the food, medical and pharmaceutical industries are increasingly banking on the cold chain.

The challenges of cold chain transportation

In addition to the usual risk elements that plague our regular supply chains, cold chain logistics has unique issues, such as rising freight costs, product sensitivity, and growing regulatory obstacles.

The recent reports of over 12,000 vaccine doses spoiling due to fluctuations in the truck temperature are evidence of some of the main challenges faced by the industry today. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, the majority of 21 shipments of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine sent to Michigan were unusable as they got too cold during transit.

The incident has, however, brought clarity to the fact that fleet managers need a better way to access and manage real-time information. The need for real-time data to manage deliveries with efficiency and precision is ever increasing. The insights drawn from this data can help fleet managers, drivers, and businesses work together towards the best outcomes.

The numbers linked to food recalls and losses are also staggering. In 2008, a single recall cost the food companies over $500 mn in settlements. Also, over $161 billion worth of losses were reported in 2010 due to food waste. A precise process to track and trace processes with new technologies such as blockchain, IoT, big data and AI can reduce or potentially eliminate waste and recalls. This can be done by ensuring safe and well-prepared supply chain operations, advanced disposal mechanisms for contaminated food batches, and timely deliveries.

The need for supply chain visibility

Supply chain visibility is crucial to both companies and customers today. According to popular research, 94% of customers are more likely to be devoted to a freight company that offers complete supply-chain transparency. Also, about 39% of consumers say they would willingly switch to a more transparent company if offered the chance.

This trend has some big brands implementing technology such as Blockchain to trace and track every activity across their supply chain. Real-time tracking with RFID enables tracking of tagged objects, creates a system of connected devices that continuously transmit data about their location, product condition, and more.

Given the highly dynamic and unique nature of the cold chain challenges, fleet managers require technologies that have fast information processing capabilities. It should also be able to digest streams of data from million sources at the moment and also be agile enough to acclimate to evolving situations.

Digital Twin is a new, powerful software technique built upon in-memory computing. It has recently emerged with the ability to meet real-time data requirements and is cost-effective to implement, thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). It helps fleet managers boost their situational awareness by identifying and tackling delivery challenges.

A logistics management system with real-time dashboards, timely reports, and better contextual information can make cold chain management and monitoring easier. Leveraging cloud-based systems equipped with real-time predictive analytics would help identify risk and provide opportunities to improve logistics efficiency.

Reducing cost with real-time cold chain monitoring

A well-run supply chain enhances customer service, saves money, and reduces transit time. The savings don’t come easy, though. They can only be accomplished through some digital transformation in the existing system. It requires some incremental improvement in processes along with a proactive risk-management approach.

Real-time monitoring can help logistics companies eliminate one of the most significant pain points of cold chain logistics – spoilage. Monitoring shipments in real-time and instantly flagging issues such as temperature excursions, hardware/coolant malfunctions, or deviations from handling protocols can help prevent damage in transit. 

While reducing spoilage with a better refrigeration system and managing transportation costs with multi-modal shipments is an option, this involves many hidden costs. Compliance mandates, labor, spare parts, weight, and several other factors contribute to the intricacies of maintaining the cold chain shipping costs.

The use of real-time data enables real-time analytics and response. It provides the opportunity to not only prevent cold chain risk but to eliminate it outright. It helps run a reliable and leaner cold chain taking off the weight of process and quality management with automation. 

The hybrid combination of all accessible data, constant connectivity, robust monitoring devices, and analytics that support data-driven improvements in logistics operations embodies the pinnacle of cold chain management and monitoring systems. Though small, real-time shipment process intervention and monitoring will be vital to your overall logistics efficiency plan.

Although it is logical to think of cost reductions from the bottom-up, the effort to evolve needs to be top-down. A digital transformation of your legacy system will help support the more extensive landscape for your business if it is used right, as in any tool.

Automate your cold chain logistics with Trigent

With a highly experienced team of technology experts having over decades of experience in TMS solutions, Trigent helps revamp your legacy systems to drive revenue and efficiency. We combine the best disruptive technologies, analytics, and trade intelligence to create custom-made solutions to overcome your supply chain challenges. 

We help our customers increase their market value and visibility with seamless integration of the latest technology solutions. Our solutions help you cater to diverse load requirements, optimize routing, market best rates, gather real-time location data, weather forecast & utilization of space, among others.

Build your next-gen cold chain logistics solutions with us. Call us today to book a business consultation.

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