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  • Writer's pictureJeremy Conradie.

Supply Chain Discussion: The Evolution of the Supply Chain Control Tower

In this discussion, Robert Bowman from Supply Chain Brain talks to Mike Jarret, president and CEO of Jarret Logistics. They are a large American 3PL. He talks here about the scope and purpose of the modern-day supply chain control tower.

Nucleus has written about their importance here.

The concept of a supply chain control tower is almost as old as the term “supply chain management,” but it has evolved over the years. Jarrett defines it today as a centralized point of contact, at which critical data about products and shipments is received and transmitted between an organization and its suppliers upstream, and customers downstream.

A control tower is about more than simply visibility. Jarrett says it has increased in value and purpose with the application of new technologies, especially artificial intelligence. Back in the days when it was called a “routing center,” the model lacked the ability to communicate with all parties effectively. Today, information is communicated via electronic data interchange (EDI) and application programming interfaces (APIs). But it can also be transmitted by phone or email — it all depends on the technological sophistication of the user, Jarrett says.

Once information reaches the tower, it has to be acted on. Jarrett says users can define their own parameters around the granularity of reporting. An expedited shipment of a critical production part, for example, might call for virtual minute-by-minute monitoring on its way to the factory — so-called “breadcrumb tracking” — but for items of lesser priority, the shipper or logistics provider might be satisfied with exception-based reporting.

AI is playing a major role in today’s supply chain control tower, but as with a literal air traffic control tower, human action continues to be required. Jarrett says that will always be necessary, for a shipper to provide the best possible service to its customers.

Nucleus' systems communicate through the use of API. And at Nucleus, as a 4PL Supply Chain as a Service provider, we orchestrate the supply chains of our customers. We orchestrate them individually per client. And we orchestrate them in our own operations on a macro level. Optimization in one customer leads to optimization of our network, which in turn leads to a further level of optimization for all of our customers. We have supply chain control towers within each customer. And a supply chain control tower of our overall operations (our multi-customer multi-service provider network) so that group executives and managers know how our network is operating continuously.

Source: Supplychainbrain

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