SAP's recent conference - SAPinsider - was held recently in Las Vegas. That isn't really much news in itself. But one of the key revelations from the conference was its announcement that the company will be releasing something we at ec-bp.com have been talking about for quite a while... a Supply Chain Control Tower.
Earlier this year Aberdeen Group published their report: "Supply Chain Visibility" in which they made some interesting observations and assertions. Among the findings reported were some very basic statistics that reflect a growing interest in visibility: "63% of respondents indicated supply chain visibility (SCV) as a high priority for improvement, with an additional 28% indicating it was a medium priority." If that's the case, why are we not further along in the implementation of the right tools?
Shipping - it's one of the most critical components of the supply chain. And the logistics providers are increasingly feeling their position. With the growth, consolidation, and differentiation going on in the logistics sector there is no lack of attention on companies and their function. In fact, there the definitions are expanding all the time. With logistics providers being the central link in the supply chain, they are increasingly finding themselves in the power position; so much so that suppliers making unreasonable demands may be at risk of losing the service from their chosen logistics provider.
We have been talking a lot about Supply Chain Management Control Towers. Yes, transportation (usually under logistics) is included in the control tower. In many companies, transportation is outsourced to a 3PL, 4PL or 5PL provider. This provider is an expert at hooking your company up to any required transportation resources. Your provider already has some excellent tools available. A popular concept since the 1990's has been the "Load Control Center" (LCC). We are looking at outsourcing, but yes, excellent software is available if you do it yourself.
The supply chain would be nothing if products never reached their destinations. But there's a difference between getting product to where it needs to be and getting it there on time. No matter what position your organization holds in the supply chain, timely delivery is a determining factor between success and failure. The key ingredient to staying on top of product delivery is timely and accurate updates.