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AlternateIs a Supply Chain Management Control Tower the only way to go? What issues are not yet solved with our current thoughts on SCM Control Towers? Are we looking at some type of a “Commercial Network” instead; or are looking at “SCM Control Tower 2?” In any event, there is a requirement for further automation of the process.

What are some of the drawbacks with our current implementation strategy?

  1. The “network” that is required for visibility sometimes requires lower-tier suppliers, public warehouses, wholesalers, etc. to “log in” to several different networks (one for each “important” SCM Control Tower they deal with. We need a simple, reusable network approach to bring everyone into the tower. The solution lies in B2B Networks (VAN2). Extremely time critical communications could be accomplished by “texting” selected members of the Control Tower community, then following up with an EDI message.

  2. Is there too much dependence on humans making decisions? Cannot some of the decisions being made be better automated? Can't we use “decision support” technology to build automated responses at the back end of system?

Let's keep in mind that Control Towers provide: (1) end-to-end visibility; (2) keep track of the entire environment, not only in the enterprise, but anywhere that touches any of the SCM processes both inside and outside the entire supply chain; (3) act as the “record keeper” of both events and transactions; (4) Alert planning and operations of disruptions AND assist in working around these disruptions.

The Supply Chain must have synchronized planning and execution across the entire supply chain. There is a need to coordinate demand variability, supply variability, constrained capacity, and lead time variability across suppliers, contract manufacturers, manufacturing, forward DC, retailer & etailer to the customer.

The extended supply chain is a complex animal. We do multiple channels for sourcing (branded, private label, etc). Then we need multiple channels for sales (stores, internet, mail/phone, resellers). We give customers more and more choices and sell differently in all kinds of ways and all kinds of new and exciting markets. We have all kinds of participants and we even have several kinds of businesses doing the selling (brands, acquisitions, franchisees).

From there it's necessary to look at fulfillment: supplier-to-DC, supplier-to-stores, DC-to-stores, forward stocking locations, partners, redeployment, and reverse logistics). The toughest to track are things off our radar screen like drop-ship, order status and shipment status. We cannot get around this complexity because the competition is doing it, so we have to replace complexity with visibility. Our SCM Control Tower must provide real time information so we can make instant decisions. Plus we must tie together logistics, planning, procurement and anyone else who gets touched by this complexity. A modern SCM Control Tower is not a “Load Control Center” and the tower includes a lot more than logistics. Last modified on Monday, 24 February 2014
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