Any business that manufacturers and distributes globally must have end-to-end supply chain visibility today. This means more than just the “four walls” of the factory. It means all your suppliers: the status of their shipments to you and expected delivery. Your shipments to customers. Even the weather and political risks along the route. You must be able to adjust the whole cycle almost in “real time”.
The answer is a Supply Chain Management Control Tower. Our plan is to operate one that will serve multiple companies. It will be “Cloud” based (meaning not limited to a specific computer site). It will offer “Software as a Service” to clients.
We will be using top-of-the-line elements to operate it. IBM software, operations hosted by PROSOFT GROUP (an industry leader), marketing through the National Technology Sales Engine headquartered in Chicago.
A new term is appearing in the supply chain arena: “Supply Chain Control Tower”. Just as an airport control tower coordinates airplanes landing and taking off, a Supply Chain Control Tower coordinates inbound and outbound distribution flows. Sure sounds more professional than a “dashboard”.
Now, who is going to staff the control tower? Logistics was conceived by the military to get the right amount of supplies to the troops at the right time. Supply chain management takes a bigger approach of looking further back into the life of a product to its manufacture and even product design while integrating what were once thought to be unrelated disciplines: marketing and customer service.
Our Supply Chain Control Tower is up and running. Yes, the idea makes a lot of sense, but what are the benefits?
How do we make full use of our resources? What else do we need to add to it? If you take a look at an airport control tower, it usually is a boring place. Yes, they work around the clock but all you see is a super smooth operation. Operators viewing screens and talking calmly into headsets. When it is not “boring”, they usually throw visitors out. Our goal with our SCM Control Tower is to be a “boring” place.
We have been talking a lot about Supply Chain Management Control Towers. Yes, transportation (usually under logistics) is included in the control tower.
In many companies, transportation is outsourced to a 3PL, 4PL or 5PL provider. This provider is an expert at hooking your company up to any required transportation resources. Your provider already has some excellent tools available. A popular concept since the 1990’s has been the “Load Control Center” (LCC). We are looking at outsourcing, but yes, excellent software is available if you do it yourself.
You are in the process of staffing your SCM Control Tower.This group will be drawn from different areas of your company (different “silos”) and different skill sets (for example, a “hazmat” expert). Is your SCM Control Tower going to be a team building melting pot or a boiling cauldron of dis-function? You could draw the brightest and most hard working employees in and outside of your company; but if they don’t get along, it could wreck your business.
A couple of other things you might be interested in: