What is a Supply Chain Control Tower?

Supply chain control tower visibility in a global transportation operation.

Visibility and control are difficult to achieve through traditional supply chain management methods. A supply chain control tower maximizes modern innovations to deliver visibility, control, and a broad spectrum of benefits. What is a supply chain control tower?

Supply chain control towers are a development within supply chain management that allows for unprecedented visibility and control.
Conventional systems, siloed and reactive, struggle to keep pace with global logistics, leading to inefficiencies and operational challenges.

Digital innovations sparked a wave of transformation. These technological advancements reshape the supply chain management landscape, introducing a new era of efficiency and clarity.

By integrating cutting-edge digital solutions, businesses overcome the hurdles of traditional practices, paving the way for a more streamlined and responsive supply chain.

The concept of a “supply chain control tower” epitomizes this evolution.

The Command Center Revealed: What is a Supply Chain Control Tower?

A control tower is a centralized hub designed to oversee disparate global transportation activities while improving supply chain orchestration. This dynamic system serves as a command center, offering unparalleled visibility and control over the entire supply chain network. The control tower provides a comprehensive, real-time overview by aggregating data from various sources, enabling informed decision-making and proactive management.

The benefits of a supply chain control tower extend beyond oversight and include enhanced visibility, fast and accurate decision-making, and greater collaboration among all supply chain participants.

10 Key Features of a Supply Chain Control Tower

Today’s most impactful supply chain control towers share common features that supercharge supply chain management from end to end. Here’s a look at some of the most essential features to look for in a supply chain control tower.
Global Transportation Activity Visualization

A cornerstone of the supply chain control tower’s functionality is its comprehensive visual platform, designed to manage transportation activities on a global scale. This feature offers a bird’s-eye view of logistics operations, encompassing key regions such as North America, South America, Europe, China, Japan, and Australia.

By presenting a unified, interactive map, the control tower enables seamless tracking and management of logistics movements across continents.

Advanced Search Tools & Filters

A control tower’s advanced search tools and filters enable users to refine the global view based on specific needs. These sophisticated tools allow for targeted examination of various supply chain elements, such as inbound freight.

By applying these filters, users can effortlessly zoom in on particular areas of interest, ensuring a more focused and efficient analysis.

Customizable Navigation & Filtering

Customizable navigation and filtering options empower users to filter transportation moves by specific statuses or service exceptions. Targeted filtering is invaluable for monitoring and managing specific supply chain segments.

Whether it’s identifying delays, assessing service quality, or focusing on high-priority shipments, the navigation column allows for swift and precise adjustments.

Real-Time Status Updates & Exception Handling

A pivotal feature of the supply chain control tower is its ability to deliver real-time status updates and exceptional handling. This system is adept at identifying and highlighting loads at risk of early or late delivery. By providing these timely insights, the control tower enables proactive management of potential delivery issues.

This feature is crucial in mitigating risks and ensuring the timeliness of operations. It empowers supply chain managers to address challenges preemptively, adjust plans as necessary, and maintain the integrity of the delivery schedule.

Drill-Down Capability for Detailed Insight

The supply chain control tower offers a powerful drill-down capability, providing users with detailed insights into individual loads. This feature is instrumental in understanding the nuances of transportation processes, allowing users to identify and analyze specific issues or delays at various stages.

Whether it’s goods not yet in transit, complications at the port, or other logistic hurdles, the drill-down functionality offers a focused view that empowers supply chain managers to pinpoint problems, understand their root causes, and take informed actions to mitigate disruptions.

Actionable Insights & Role-Based Security
The supply chain control tower excels in delivering extensive insights into each load while also ensuring these insights lead to actionable outcomes. A vital aspect of this feature is role-level security, which governs who can view and act upon specific data. This structured access ensures that response measures to various supply chain scenarios are appropriate and secure.
Effective Communication Tools

A vital component of the supply chain control tower is its suite of communication tools. These tools facilitate direct interaction with responsible parties, streamlining processes like preparing crucial documents, including the ocean bill. This direct line of communication is pivotal in expediting processes and swiftly resolving emerging issues.

The control tower ensures that all stakeholders are promptly informed and aligned by enabling real-time conversations and information exchange, fostering a more cohesive and efficient supply chain operation.

Comprehensive Search for Product-Level Visibility

Within the supply chain control tower, a comprehensive search functionality plays a crucial role in enhancing product-level visibility. This advanced search capability allows users to filter and monitor loads based on various criteria, including item descriptions. This means that specific items within a shipment can be easily identified and tracked throughout the transportation process.

This level of visibility is invaluable for businesses that need to monitor critical or high-value products closely. It ensures that every aspect of the supply chain, including individual items, is under constant and careful scrutiny.

Multi-Modal Global Coverage

A defining feature of the supply chain control tower is its multi-modal global coverage. This capability ensures comprehensive visibility across all modes of transportation on a worldwide scale. Whether air, sea, rail, or road, the control tower encompasses every facet of the supply chain journey.

This extensive coverage guarantees that no part of the supply chain is left unmonitored, providing businesses with a complete overview of their logistics operations.

Real-Time Monitoring With Tear-Out Views

An innovative aspect of the supply chain control tower is the “tear-out view” feature, designed for enhanced real-time monitoring. This functionality allows users to isolate and continuously monitor specific loads in separate windows while managing other tasks on the main screen at the same time.

This multitasking capability is invaluable for supply chain professionals who need to monitor critical shipments closely without losing sight of broader operations.

Success Stories: MercuryGate’s Control Tower in the Real World:

MercuryGate’s control tower has made a significant impact on its users’ organizations, including:

  • A retail chain realized more than $1.5 million in savings through improved route optimization.
  • An international parcel carrier consolidated its operations into one dispatch location, reducing its headcount significantly while doubling volume and shrinking its fleet size by 40%.
  • A global auto manufacturer achieved multimodal visibility from start to finish at both the shipment and SKU levels.

These cases demonstrate how MercuryGate’s control tower provides actionable insights and comprehensive visibility, enhancing efficiency and decision-making in complex supply chain scenarios​​.

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Horizon Gazing: The Evolving Landscape of Control Towers

Future control tower trends will likely include the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning for predictive analytics, further enhancing decision-making capabilities. The advent of more sophisticated data analytics tools should provide even deeper insights into supply chain operations. We may also see increased interoperability with various IoT devices, enabling more granular tracking and monitoring.

Given these expected advancements, the importance of control towers in supply chain management becomes increasingly evident. As global supply chains evolve in complexity, organizations industry-wide will need agile, informed, and responsive management solutions — like MercuryGate’s TMS control tower.

Our control tower is designed to unlock operational and data visibility, providing the key features listed above and delivering greater efficiency and more informed decision-making for our users. Request a demo to learn more about our control tower and see it in action.

See the MercuryGate Control Tower in Action.


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