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How Can Control Towers Help With Supply Chain Visibility?

This blog explores how Supply Chain Control Towers can help communicate data and ensure visibility. 

What can you expect to read in this blog : 

  • Why is there an apparent lack of visibility in the global supply chain?

  • What are supply chain control towers?

  • What are the benefits of these control towers?

  • How can control towers help with visibility?

Why is there an apparent lack of visibility in the global supply chain? 

In today’s fast-paced world, delivery needs to be expedited and real-time data needs to be shared constantly. Businesses thus require visibility over their entire supply chain operations. Here is how Supply Chain Control Towers can help communicate data and ensure visibility.

As the shipping requirements increased, businesses started using the expertise of third-party logistics companies for their shipping needs. While outsourcing shipping operations initially brought some due respite; gradually, businesses lost key communication and transparency through their supply chain network. Ultimately, the visibility within the supply chain processes was non-existent.  

Supply chain visibility is the capability to track every product in transit. It gives a clear view of the transaction’s activity status, quantum, and current location. It empowers shippers to improve customer service and controls cost through real-time reporting, restricted disruptions, and risk mitigation. 

Absence of industry collaboration is the biggest barrier in terms of complete visibility.

Absence of industry collaboration is the biggest barrier in terms of complete visibility. The desired level of visibility has also been tricky to achieve due to the challenging volumes and complicated nature.  

 What is a Supply Chain Control Tower? 

A supply chain control tower isn’t a physical tower. Neither is it a traditional freight handling desk that used to exist decades ago. These are defined as a centralized hub encompassing all the technology, organizational tools and processes needed to capture, analyze, and report data through all stages of the supply chain, from the manufacturer to the consumer. 

A supply chain control tower is a simple source of real-time information for all decisions.

In simpler words, a supply chain control tower is a simple source of real-time information for all decisions. It offers businesses the ability to gather and evaluate real-time data from multiple parties throughout the supply chain. It uses cloud-based artificial intelligence, predictive analysis, and the Internet of Things for its activities.

The global control towers market size was valued at USD 5.28 billion in 2019. It is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 16.7% from 2020 to 2027.

Traditionally, freight and distribution management used to be managed from either the point of origin or destination. Supply chain control towers are not tied to a location, nor are they confined to a single part of the supply chain network.

What are the benefits of the Control Towers? 

Supply chain control towers allow business (across various verticals) to operate smartly and efficiently throughout the complicated supply chain network. It goes above and beyond a regular data-storage and analytics tool. Below are some benefits:

  • Predicts unforeseen external factors and helps mitigate the risks involved.
  • Becomes an autonomous decision-making (predictive and descriptive) process
  • Limits the dependence on human intervention, making the data handling fool-proof.
  • Helps enhance productivity and reduce costs.
  • Provides early warning alerts and assists with exception management.
  • Implements an improved and shared communication, thereby providing end-to-end visibility.

How do these Control Towers help with Visibility? 

The importance of supply chain visibility has been debated in detail over the last two decades. With the Internet of Things (IoT) and big data, companies have drastically improved visibility within their supply chain processes. However, the Reuters EFT 2020 Supply Chain Report shows that only 60% of manufacturers and retailers currently have end-to-end supply chain visibility. There is certainly more scope for improvement in this niche model.

A control tower is a unified hub. It analyses data including that of freight forwarding, tracking, tracing, exception alerts, and delivery scheduling for seamless collaboration. Information sharing that happens in real-time through supply chain control towers, resolves supply chain disturbances before they disrupt the business. The resultant visibility can be seen across the supply chain partners, including suppliers, contract manufacturers, transportation carriers and third-party logistics.

Supply chain control towers offer the needed visibility to detect exceptions in real-time.

The supply chain control tower allows for better communication and partnership at crucial junctures amongst key participants in the network. Supply chain control towers offer the needed visibility to detect exceptions in real-time. This approach reduces the time it takes to detect and resolve exceptions