We look at the technology available to help fashion brands identify social and environmental risks deep in their supply chains
New York-based supply chain mapping specialist Sourcemap, has teamed up with London’s Provenance, experts in tracing product origin, in a partnership that allows businesses in the food and fashion industries to map their supply chains, gather data, and track product movement.
Sourcemap’s software relies on a cascading supplier survey system, matched with field validation through its use of enterprise social networks, which are capable of accurately capturing data from large, convoluted supplier networks.
“Enterprise social networks allow manufacturers to map their supply chains by inviting the suppliers they know (usually first-tier suppliers), who then provide information about their suppliers,” Sourcemap says. “Questionnaires can then be sent to second-tier suppliers who provide information about their suppliers, and so on down to the raw material suppliers. Along the way, useful data is collected on the geography and structure of the supply chain, and on the efforts taken by suppliers to ensure business continuity, regulatory compliance, and best practices.”
Provenance blockchain technology tracks every transaction between suppliers in real-time, verifying that every product is sourced through the authorisedchain of custody, and giving each product a digital history. “Together, these two technologies are the first to track and trace even the most complex supply chains in real-time,” Sourcemap says.
Good World Solutions, an organisation whose mission is to improve work conditions by giving workers a safe, free and anonymous channel to report on everything from health and safety to job satisfaction, is leveraging technology to give workers a voice through its mobile survey platform Laborlink.
Laborlink, operated in partnership with the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety, American Eagle Outfitters, C&A, Marks and Spencer, Levi Strauss, and Primark, gives brands insight into factory conditions, safety, working hours and wages across their supply chains, enabling them to see what’s happening on the factory floor in real time. Reliability of data is enhanced by sourcing information from a wide pool of workers.
While initially a tool for factory workers, the organisation has recently released the Worker Engagement Supported by Technology Principles. Directed at stakeholders at all levels of global supply chains, the principles give guidance on how to design and implement technological solutions that identify and address worker abuse, and ensure technology is leveraged for good.
US Department of Labor app
The US Department of Labor has released a new mobile app designed to help businesses root out child labour and forced labour from global supply chains, including in the garment sector. The free app, Comply Chain, provides detailed guidance on how to develop robust social compliance systems and assist companies and their suppliers, in identifying, rectifying, and preventing labour abuses.
This is part of a package of articles on the push for greater transparency in the garment industry. See also:
‘Four years after Rana Plaza, garment workers are still dying in unsafe factories’
Not so fast: Millennials press fashion brands for greater transparency
The female micro-entrepreneurs disrupting India's garment trade
Fashion brands 'failing to heed warnings on viscose production'