Supply Chain Mapping

What is the difference between supply chain mapping, traceability and transparency?

Ever since Patagonia published its supplier map in 2007, the terms ‘supply chain mapping’, ‘traceability’ and 'transparency’ have been used interchangeably. To a consumer, there is little difference: at the end of the day, they enable you to see where a product came from. But to a brand, it’s the difference between making a claim, verifying it, and publicizing it. They’re related, but the underlying processes and technologies are completely different.

Mapping = Discovery

Supply chain mapping is the process of engaging with direct suppliers to discover indirect suppliers, resulting in an understanding of the end-to-end supply chain for a material, a product, or a brand. It is usually the only time a company gets in touch with indirect suppliers, so it’s a good time to collect data on quality control, social and environmental performance and make sure the indirect supply chain lives up to the brand’s standards. Supply chain mapping is also the foundation for risk planning, conflict minerals reporting and modern slavery / EU vigilance due diligence.

Traceability = Assurance

Many companies are eager to publish their supply chains once they’re mapped. Your legal department will ask for more: that’s because supply chain mapping is only based on supplier disclosure. Supply chain traceability is the process of tracking every commercial transaction in the end-to-end supply chain to account for the time and place where every step occurred in the supply chain of a unit, batch or lot of finished good. Traceability offers a number of advantages, from real-time chain of custody reports to verification that products are authentic and vendors are certified. It's also becoming law, from pharmaceutical serialization to US FDA food safety.

Transparency = Disclosure

Having mapped your supply chain and made it traceable, you're ready to share the results with stakeholders. Supply chain transparency is the process of disclosing suppliers to private customers and/or public consumers. Committing to supply chain transparency is usually the most effective way to drive the new business processes needed for mapping and traceability. It's also the right thing to do.

Want to learn how to implement supply chain mapping, traceability, and transparency? Get in touch to schedule a demo:

Keep up with the new OECD guidance on Conflict Minerals with Sourcemap's Responsible Minerals Platform

Dodd-Frank conflict minerals disclosure ushered in supply chain transparency law, and now it's been superseded by the new EU requirements. What's changed? Transparency isn't enough: companies have to show that they perform due diligence on their extended conflict minerals supply chain, ensuring that risk is monitored and improvement plans are put in place. The best practice is to follow the OECD's guidance - something Sourcemap can do out-of-the-box. Download our free brochure and get in touch to implement best-in-class due diligence practices, for now and for the future. Click the link below:

Need Help Making Sense of Higg FEM, SLCP, Open Apparel Registry? Sourcemap Has You Covered.

Footwear and apparel companies have to be transparent, but few can devote the resources to deal with the proliferation of databases and platforms out there. That's why we're proud to announce a one-stop-shop for fashion transparency: a software platform for data collection, analysis and reporting that combines internal company data with supplier self-assessments and the best-available third-party data. Read about it in our latest flier by clicking below.

Investing in a Sustainable Supply Chain Now Could Save Brands’ Future [Footwear News]

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The shopping habits of millennials and Gen Z have changed the way brands sell their products; experiences, e-commerce pop-ups and personalization are dominating retail. But these consumers also value sustainability and ethical business practices, which many brands have been slower to address at the risk of lowering margins.

Read the rest on Footwear News

Last Week, IBM Traced 28 Tons of Oranges Using Blockchain. Also Last Week, Sourcemap Traced 1,000 Tons of Cocoa - No Blockchain Required.

The First Step to Traceability: Stenciling Batch Numbers on Bags of Cocoa at a Depot in Ghana

The First Step to Traceability: Stenciling Batch Numbers on Bags of Cocoa at a Depot in Ghana

There’s a lot of hype around using blockchain to trace supply chains. How does it stand up in the real world? The most widely publicized blockchain pilots involve shippers and retailers - the ‘last leg’ of a global supply chain. What happens when you want to trace a product from the source, and that source is halfway around the world?

Global supply chains include people from every walk of life, from smallholder farmers to corporate executives. The challenge with traceability is finding a solution that can handle the complexity of global trade while being easy to adopt each step of the way. Sourcemap uses proven technology, including the graph databases that power social networks and mobile apps that work on the most common devices. And of course, spreadsheets.

You can trust the data. Everything that’s uploaded to Sourcemap is encrypted and changes are tracked, so there is no chance of someone altering a record without being detected. And the app is lightweight, so it’s used to capture lots of additional data: farm areas, workforce statistics, indicators for safety and hygiene. You can rest assured, not only that the source of products is authentic, but also that important risks such as child labor and deforestation are minimized.

Traceability isn’t about blockchain, it’s about digitizing the supply chain. Once paper- and spreadsheet-based records are uploaded to the cloud, the savings are immense: no more document handling, better quality control, fewer delays and disruptions, less risk. To learn more about the agile ways that end-to-end traceability is being implemented in supply chains around the world, get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.

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End-of-year sale! Get Sourcemap VIZ starting at $333/mo.

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For the first time our award-winning visualization software is available at a discount [until December 31st] ! It's the only tool that lets you instantly map thousands of supply chain nodes and links in a secure, interactive online visualization for you and your colleagues. It's an essential tool for measuring how much you know and don't know, and where bottlenecks and redundancies exist. Find out more and subscribe today:

World’s first free digital map of apparel factories now online

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NEW YORK CITY – Sourcemap gave the apparel industry, manufacturers, and consumers worldwide unprecedented access to the factories making their clothes with today’s launch of the Open Apparel Registry (OAR) — an open, crowdsourced database of apparel facilities around the world.

The online tool creates a common and standardized resource of facility names and addresses that is completely free and easy to search. As the first advanced name-and-address matching system for the apparel industry, the OAR will create historic transparency and accountability in an industry plagued by systemic sustainability challenges and inhumane employment practices.

“The Open Apparel Registry has been a years-long effort to help consumers, companies and NGO's make certain that the factories they think their clothes are coming from are actually the right ones,” said Dr. Leo Bonanni, founder and CEO of Sourcemap. “Apparel facilities can now be searched much like finding an address on Google Maps, which we expect will create an industry where one-day, every article of clothing is traced to its source.”

Currently, most apparel factories are logged across multiple, inconsistent databases. Many more facilities are completely unaccounted for. Even the most conscientious brands have struggled to maintain visibility over the manufacturers beyond the first tier of their supply chains. The lack of accountability has led to the apparel industry’s failed attempts to rid supply chains of forced labor, child labor, poor working conditions, and environmentally harmful practices. 

The OAR is funded by the C&A Foundation. It marks Sourcemap’s largest open-source project to date. Nonprofit partnerships and corporate alliances have attempted to conduct similar large-scale mapping projects without success.

Sourcemap is recognized as the leader in mapping and transparency platforms for industry groups. C&A Foundation is also sponsoring Sourcemap’s partnership with BRAC University (BRACU) on a breakthrough project to survey and map every garment factory in Bangladesh. Sourcemap currently powers the latest generation of the Higg Index platform, the leading suite of tools for measuring social and environmental sustainability across the apparel, footwear and textile industries. The Green Electronic Council’s newly reimagined EPEAT Registry for sustainable IT products also runs on Sourcemap’s platform.

The OAR is now live at openapparel.org

Read the news release on Ecotextile News >

Blockchain and Fast Fashion [Novethic]

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French blog Novethic quotes Sourcemap CEO in the article “POURQUOI LA BLOCKCHAIN NE RÉVOLUTIONNERA PAS LA FAST FASHION” (Why Blockchain Won't Revolutionize Fast Fashion)

Cocoa in the cloud: Traceability goes paperless in digital evolution [Confectionery News]

Cocoa traceability is entering the digital era with companies aiming to collect far more than the weight of a bag via a paper receipt.

HTTPS://WWW.CONFECTIONERYNEWS.COM/ARTICLE/2018/05/15/COCOA-IN-THE-CLOUD-TRACEABILITY-GOES-PAPERLESS-IN-DIGITAL-EVOLUTION

Is Your Supply Chain Blockchain-Ready?

It’s been called “transformative,” “revolutionary,” and “likely to change the world,” but is Blockchain the right technology for your supply chain? 

The ultimate goals of supply chain management are Traceability (the ability to track a product from raw material to consumer) and Transparency (continuous visibility from end-to-end, including real-time data on performance, quality, risk, and other key performance indicators). Conscious consumers, emerging regulations, and operational best practices are all pushing for this change. 

Blockchain can help brands achieve both Traceability and Transparency – but some important steps need to be taken before the technology can be adopted supply chain-wide.  To begin with, you can't make your suppliers adopt a groundbreaking technology unless you know who they are - both direct (Tier-1) and indirect (Tier-2, 3, down to raw materials). Then you need to align with your suppliers on transparency and traceability - that is, assuming they're ready to jump on board. That's why we've put together this simple questionnaire to determine if your supply chain is blockchain-ready.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Have you mapped your supply chain, including names, contact information and locations of all suppliers from raw materials to finished goods?
  2. Have you identified risks and opportunities across the end-to-end supply chain where traceability and transparency could bring important ROI?
  3. Have you assessed your suppliers' supply chain technology maturity, for example, whether their ERP/PLM is cloud-enabled?
  4. Have you defined and communicated your supply chain transparency expectations with every stakeholder in your supply chain?

If you answered "yes" to all of these, then your supply chain is blockchain-ready, and will likely benefit from the enhanced security, authenticity, and the distributed costs of distributed ledger technology. But if you’re one of many who didn’t get beyond question 1 or 2, then you need to enhance your supply chain visibility and communications before you and your suppliers can take advantage of blockchain.

Blockchain might very well be “the next internet.” But like the internet in its early days, the killer applications of blockchain have not been well-defined. Before you implement blockchain, consider whether your supply chain is blockchain-ready – and if you’re not sure, ask an expert if it’s the right solution for you.

Any questions? Get in touch.