Ready to Build and Deploy a Supply Chain Control Tower?
In today’s day and age, taking proactive steps to prevent potential issues from raising their nasty little heads is of paramount importance. With margins as slim as they are, making even small mistakes can spell disaster for companies all throughout the supply chain. One way of keeping on top of any potential problems, and addressing them before they cause any harm, is to build and deploy a supply chain control tower.
You might have already heard of the supply chain control tower concept, but if you haven’t you might assume that it is in reference to some sort of physical tower. The phrase stirs up in the mind images of radio towers and listening devices. And to be fair, that is actually a fairly accurate way to describe a supply chain control tower. The only exception is that these are not just one specific physical item… when we refer to these control towers, we are talking about a strategy used to collect data.
Control towers and digital twins allow deep insight into the inner workings of supply chains through the use of artificial intelligence and other technologies so that companies can stay one step ahead of any looming disasters.
In this article, we will walk you through the best steps to take when you’re starting to build your control tower. From there, we’ll discuss how you can most effectively deploy this tool.
3 Steps for Building a Supply Chain Control Tower
Companies looking to build an effective control tower should follow a step-by-step process in order to make sure they are meeting all of their individual needs. Below, we’ve provided a basic template for things to consider when building your supply chain control tower.
Determine What You Already Have Available
Odds are, you already have some key pieces of your control tower in place. For instance, you undoubtedly have a way of measuring success and failure across a variety of metrics in your company.
Does this system work well for you right now? Do you have all of the pieces you need for your control tower to run like a well-oiled machine?
If not, let’s check out what you may need to add to your system in the next step.
Identify What You Need to Add to Make Your System Successful
When things go wrong, you need to know which part of your process is falling short of optimal KPI ranges. This may be something as simple as a lack of visibility in a certain portion of your operations. This, in turn, creates a blind spot where issues likely originate. Or, it could be something that’s a bit more in-depth and reaching.
Once you’ve identified your pain points, you should then be able to identify your core needs. With these needs identified, you have a better chance of actually meeting them as you have data available to help you generate ideas as to what platforms or tools can help you in that goal. The one thing to understand about a supply chain control tower is that it is not just a singular platform. In fact, control towers are more of a concept that is employed through the use of a variety of different tools. It is also for this reason that knowing how to properly connect your systems to one another is so important.
Further than just a bunch of tools, control towers rely on a lot of factors, tons of data collection, and a way to organize and make sense of it all.
Purchase What You Need
You can purchase the specific pieces of technology that are missing from your operation, or you may instead purchase a comprehensive control tower to replace your current processes completely.
Either way, you may find that this is a significant financial burden. Spending money to improve insight into your supply chain’s function can be a scary prospect, but it’s one that is well worth the investment.
How to Deploy Your Supply Chain Control Tower
Now that you’ve made steps to build your supply chain control tower, it’s time to deploy this technology.
Train and Hire Competent Workers
It’s rarely enough to just have the technology for a control tower in place, you will also likely need to invest in some training and hiring of staff to effectively utilize the control tower tools.
If you don’t have the proper manpower for your control tower within your company, and you aren’t able to hire more staff for this purpose; you may even consider sourcing these needs out to another group that can handle your data analytics and oversight for you.
Act on the Data Gleaned from the Supply Chain Control Tower
Now that your control tower is in place and collecting all sorts of data, you need to put that information to use. You’ll be gathering many data points from your various new processes, and what you do with this information will determine how effective your control tower truly is.
So many companies sit on the wealth of data they gather from their control tower without taking proper action as the data rolls in. This approach is not conducive to anything and essentially just serves to create a data silo that may have not existed previously. You should be ready to make proactive, consequential decisions when you receive data on potential upcoming problems with your supply chain. This is, after all, the main purpose of a control tower.
Perhaps the best way to prepare for a likely scenario is to run a simulation. Control towers allow you to create the conditions that your business may face at one point or another. By running simulations and responding as if it was really happening, you’ll be much more prepared for these situations in the “real world”.
Use AI Effectively
Control towers offer many automated options. Of course, human oversight is essential in many scenarios within supply chain operations. But artificial intelligence can help with many routine processes and can make information more easily digestible for busy supply chain professionals.
By fully understanding the AI capabilities inherent in your control tower, you can increase your productivity and make better, more informed decisions for all parts of your supply chain.
Control towers are an excellent source of leverageable data for supply chain professionals. This blending and tying together of artificial intelligence and machine learning systems enable supply chain managers and other decision-makers to access incredible amounts of data. With this data in hand, it’s much easier to make informed decisions about how to respond to an immediate or potential problem affecting operations.
Best of all, control towers enable companies to run simulations of likely events. By “practicing like you play” you can prepare for any situation that may arise. If you’re considering building and deploying a control tower for your company, think about doing so soon. The more quickly you put these systems in place, the more time you’ll have to leverage their awesome capabilities for improved business operations.