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.
The Control Tower needs high quality data from both internal and external sources. With a global supply chain, a company is more vulnerable than ever. Suppliers are also vulnerable on the land, sea and air. Issues arise from political events, weather, security and health issues. The possibilities are almost endless. Yes, you can monitor news channels, weather forecasts, police radios; but it could be overwhelming. The answer is to automate the gathering process, then use data analysis to highlight YOUR hot spots. RSS FEEDS are increasingly available, even from local police departments (well, the “police blotter” is now electronic and applications are available to attach grid coordinates to almost anything). Even weather data can get more accurate by folding in the thousands of “backyard” weather stations that have become more popular. These little guys can provide METAR feeds. See how many are in your area at Wunderground. All this increased data (BIG DATA) will overwhelm you without analytic capabilities. Simplified, you have to automatically “sift” through it, pull out what applies (YOUR parameters), and utilize it (maybe “post” to your “trouble map”).