What is a control tower?

A control tower is an analytical solution that studies the distribution chain. It aims to improve its weak points and bolster its strong points. Its name reminds us of air traffic control operations, for which staff have all the necessary information for managing air traffic and the goods transported by that means. This logistical control tower manages all sorts of problems (human, material, weather, traffic back-up, parking, equipment availability within the supply chain, etc.), for all countries, and regardless of the transport means used - road, air, waterway, sea or rail.

The control tower can be defined as a centre for disparate data, which translates it into homogeneous and easy-to-understand information for decision-makers. It then makes the data available to professional operators. Once analysed, this information will help them make the best decisions with the right timing. This overall vision means control tower operators can identify risks and opportunities far in advance.

The control tower is particularly useful for processing conveyance data for goods issued by companies that require a comprehensive supply chain (from the factory to the end customer).

Specificities of a control tower

  • The control tower gives all operators (without exception) within the supply chain an accurate and real-time vision of how goods are being moved.
  • These controllers have and share reliable information at all times.
  • A control tower is a centralised information platform.
  • Its scope of action may be limited to transport from X to Y; or may include the entire supply chain - from raw material purchase to end product delivery to the customer.
  • A control tower is entirely transparent.
  • It improves planning and decision-making actions (transporters, docks, quays, stations).
  • It provides information regarding potential delays, items forgotten, etc.
  • It monitors the logistical partners’ performance.

Examples and practical applications

What conditions need to be met to set up a logistical control tower?

You must search for a control tower that perfectly matches each aspect of your activity - as an industrial company or retailer. This must include all analysis data from your key performance indicators (KPI). This data concerns standard logistical flows, supplier management, administration management and data flow analysis.

Why are so many details necessary for setting up a logistical control tower?

Let’s look at how supplier management works. A good or service supplier’s importance lies not in the cash flows between you and them, but rather in its position along the supply chain you both form. Your fundamental resources may depend on their efficacy. Its occasional or recurring weaknesses risk putting you in danger and not being able to meet customer requirements.

What steps need to be followed to set up a logistical control tower?

During the set-up process, start with the fundamental key performance indicators to be analysed and monitored. Your project will align with an overall scheme that you can validate and fine-tune at a later stage:

  • Optimising integration within the supply chain process: procurement, production, warehousing, distribution, logistics;
  • Analysing the data above, followed by planning and implementation;
  • Reinforced collaboration between internal and external partners. Suppliers, transporters and sub-contractors can log in, and data is shared transparently;
  • Anticipating any risks and opportunities along the supply chain and within the partners’ environments, so as to analyse the impact of potential interruptions and preventively implement corrective actions;
  • Simulating the best solutions based on decisions made thanks to the alerts sent;
  • Analysing the various scenarios possible, and adopting the one with the smallest impact on the supply chain.

As a conclusion, though the control tower represents a significant investment, it is better than having to spend money because of administrative non-compliance issues during transport. Not mentioning delays, which costs even more. The latter can jeopardise the entire supply chain, and defile the trusting bond you forged with customers and suppliers.

Regulatory cornerstones

  • EU Regulation no. 2018/644 issued by the European Parliament and Council on 18 April 2018, pertaining to cross-border package deliveries.
  • Health and safety precautions to be complied with when delivering packages.
  • Consumption code, articles L-216-1 to L-216-6.
  • Civil Code, article 1610.


[1] Source of the figures: http://www.analyse-sectorielle.fr/realisation-de-logiciels/