Tech Notes

Worker controlling production using ipad to maximize efficiency

What is a Production Control Tower?

Manufacturers across industries face the challenge of compiling a comprehensive view of key performance indicators (KPIs) throughout every sector of production. From research and development, procurement, and sourcing to production, logistics, and quality control, each segment of the production process often works within a silo, preventing manufacturers from improving efficiencies due to fragmented or incomplete data.

To mitigate this issue, production control towers optimize operations by providing an aggregated view of process data across all lines of production. With real-time data, production control towers generate a digital replica of your manufacturing operations, allowing you to analyze critical processes, identify areas of waste, and encourage continuous improvement.

Production control towers are powerful tools that can be scaled to the needs of your business. From monitoring a single facility’s production lines and equipment to a fully aggregated view of an entire enterprise, including data from multiple facilities, supply chain towers, and logistics systems, production control towers offer manufacturers comprehensive data in the form of easy-to-read virtual dashboards.

Some of the integral data production control towers track include:

  • Supply Chain Visibility: Using real-time data, production control towers can discern part shortages, inventory levels, late deliveries, and other vulnerabilities present in the extended supply chain.
  • Maintenance Requirements: Production control towers provide predictive maintenance functionality by precisely predicting when equipment will require maintenance. This allows suppliers to plan in advance for equipment downtime to prevent supply shortages.
  • Facility Utilization: Based on aggregated data across production lines, production control towers can forecast impending facility and equipment utilization, allowing supply planners to more accurately plan for required workforce and machine allocation.
  • Equipment Effectiveness: This factor is one of the most valuable KPIs tracked by control towers. Overall equipment effectiveness indicates how well your equipment is running and can reveal areas of improvement. Low equipment effectiveness can indicate issues in equipment availability, performance, and quality.

Types of Production Control Towers

The control tower model—which revolves around real-time access to related data streams—can be applied to different aspects of manufacturing, production, and logistics. Some common types of control towers include:

  • All-In-One Supply Chain Control Towers: Supply chain control towers integrate data from warehouses, suppliers, production facilities, and delivery trucks. Their broad scope of connectivity helps managers track supply availability, product movements, on-time delivery rates, and more. Continuous data monitoring makes it possible to identify disruptions immediately and analyze potential solutions. Advanced analytics also facilitate process improvements as supply chains change and grow.
  • Manufacturing & Industrial Production Control Towers: Without being on the floor of a manufacturing facility, it is nearly impossible to monitor supply availability or quality. This lack of data is especially problematic for managers overseeing multiple facilities or relying on a broad network of suppliers. A manufacturing control system synchronizes data down to the level of individual production stations, allowing unparalleled insight into production dynamics. This can include supply chain information but most commonly specifically reports and analyzes the activities on a production floor.
  • Transportation, Logistics & Distribution Control Towers: Narrower in scope, transport or distribution control towers allow analysts to track deliveries, including timely reports on delays and shortages. These data allow for improvements to supply networks and schedules, but they also facilitate smarter production schedules that align with suppliers' timelines.

Control towers work together to maintain uninterrupted access to relevant statistics, so decisions can always be rooted in the latest data.

Benefits of Using Production Control Towers

There are many clear advantages to adopting production control towers:

  • Efficient, Intelligent Automation: Control towers are equipped to extract relevant metrics and recommend or execute adjustments that will improve outcomes. These processes can either complement or completely replace certain time-intensive research steps. 
  • Continuous Process Improvements: In addition to real-time monitoring, production control towers also afford access to longitudinal data. This information is invaluable and can highlight persistent problems or reveal the effect of a strategic shift.
  • Full Visibility: Supply chains are highly complex and vulnerable to disruptions large and small. Production control towers mitigate the effect of interruptions by alerting decision-makers to changes as they happen, enabling a more agile response. 
  • Minimized Production Costs: Every inefficiency has a cost in time, resources, or both. These costs can quickly add up when multiplied across multiple facilities, routes, or suppliers. Better visibility helps companies identify every area for improvement, ultimately keeping costs down. 
  • Collaboration: Supply chains involve many parties, ranging from suppliers to end clients. A production control tower gives all relevant parties access to a shared body of data to improve collaborative decision-making. Ensuring data are easily available also reduces the need for frequent check-ins, freeing time for more substantive meetings.

Companies often see significant ROI in just a few months as inefficiencies become apparent. 

Industries that Use Production Control Towers

Many industries can benefit from using a production control tower to synchronize data. Some of these include:

  • Healthcare: Hospitals and research centers must work with many suppliers to ensure a reliable inventory. Disruptions in the medical supply chain not only can, and do, cost centers money, but they can also endanger patients. Production control towers keep the quality of care high by streamlining procurement and minimizing the risk of lost inventory.
  • Industrial: Industrial manufacturers face massive data analytics challenges ranging from forecasting supply to evaluating sales data. Production control towers can oversee everything from inventory management and productivity to quality control and build plan adherence. It has never been easier to simultaneously cut costs while improving client satisfaction. 
  • Food & Beverage: Supply chain management is especially critical for food and beverage companies, whose timelines must be strict to avoid spoilage or regulatory non-compliance. Production control towers make it easier to manage stock levels and track time-sensitive shipments, reducing waste at its source.
  • Automotive: The automotive supply chain is vast, spanning multiple continents and including materials that are prone to bottlenecks. A supply chain tower is ideal to cut through the noise and identify the optimal strategies to address these challenges. 
  • Aerospace: Between specialized components, sensitive electronics, and heavy raw materials, the aerospace supply chain can be daunting. Production control towers can help bridge potential gaps, keeping lead times short and stock levels appropriate.

Make Better Decisions with TADA's Production Control Tower

To see first-hand how a control tower can streamline your production, request a demo of TADA's industry-leading Production Control Tower. Or, for more information, contact TADA's team today.