When we got into SCM Control Towers, there were not too many others (you know, the “experts” who appear in your mailbox every day and draw crowds at those big conferences) who were writing about them or building them.
BUT WE TALKED A LOT ABOUT THEM AHEAD OF EVERYBODY ELSE
So let’s recreate what we have published and give you some great material.
12 February, 2013
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”.
It is all about “knowledge”. Air controllers get information on weather, speed, direction, and altitude of aircraft and use that knowledge to keep their air space safe. Companies must know what is happening with their supply chains so they can prevent disasters too. They need to be able to do “what-if” analysis and work their way around events that will cause disruption and risks to the supply chain
In my first take at staffing the SCM Control Tower, I have Logistics, CRM, Demand Planning, Procurement and EDI/Electronic Commerce. I’m not far off the mark. I am covering all the “processes” that the Forum covers. In the Forum’s approach, everybody still reports organizationally in their own “silo” and proper operation of the SCM Control Tower depends on collaboration among the silos
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 make it a “boring” place.
Airport towers handle incidents on the ground like failed landing gear. They handle incidents in the air like a “near miss”. They even reach out to other airports: anybody ever sat in an airport waiting for your destination airport to plow its snow, or whatever?
So all the time our SCM “tower operators” are monitoring for aberrations: in-house; with the suppliers and service providers; and the external World. They are looking for anything that has, will or might interrupt the supply chain. When ever, let’s call it an “incident”, is detected, the tower operator first determines if it has already occurred.
05 September 2013
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.
Transportation has always been an opportunity to centralize and get some benefits. 3M started the concept of Load Control Centers(LCC) and lots of others followed suit. The LCC is simply centralization of transportation planning and execution. Benefits include:
better pricing from centralized transportation sourcing
development of standardized operating procedures
fewer planners than in several separate operations
ability to combine more shipments and loads because of greater visibility
- electronic integration with carriers
4 November 2013
Control towers are used in many industries for different purposes: airports and railroads use them for traffic control; power plants have control rooms to monitor operations and third party logistics providers use them to track transportation activities. These are places where operations run well. Why not a “SUPPLY CHAIN MANAGEMENT CONTROL TOWER” to monitor and assure supply?
The SCM Control Tower is all about having visibility throughout the supply chain. But if there is total visibility and no ability to make decisions, then it is not a control tower. To be a decision maker, you will need to run “what if” scenarios: forecast and recalculate the entire inventory if “your ship doesn’t come in” (something that literally could happen). To be able to calculate effects of events, it will require a LOT of data. Hence, we need to introduce BIG DATA to our Control Tower.