Supply chain unites behind neutral platform to aggregate and augment blockchain data
The first “neutral aggregating platform” for tracing the provenance of goods in the supply chain has launched, pulling together and making visible data from sundry blockchains.
The World Economic Forum described it as a “self-service track-and-trace” blockchain platform at its general meeting in Davos this week. The project remains in pilot mode. The vision is to help enterprises respond to, and consumers satisfy, rising demand for ethical and sustainable products.
The platform is able to ingest blockchain data from multiple sources, and make it available and visual to interested parties on a neutral site, the World Economic Forum said. Until now, companies have published supply chain data on their own terms, or else relied on private blockchain providers to do so.
The new platform was created by UK based technology firm Everledger, Austrian textile company Lenzing Group, and Hong Kong based tech group TextileGenesis. Lenzing Group and TextileGenesis have already collaborated on a blockchain solution for tracing Tencel-braned lyocell and modal fibres, used in sustainable fashion items.
Everledger has just been awarded initial funding by the United States Department of Energy for two pilot programmes to trace the life cycle of lithium-ion batteries using blockchain and IoT technologies. Everledger funder and chief executive Leanne Kemp co-chairs the World Economic Forum’s ‘future council on manufacturing’, and also takes part in its ‘future council on blockchain’.
The International Trade Centre, (ITC) a UN entity, is hosted the new blockchain aggregator with its Sustainability Map, a platform created to help micro, small and medium sized enterprises “embed sustainability”. The ITC’s involvement assures data will not be shared externally, and can be hosted at UN data centres in order to benefit from UN “neutrality, immunities and privileges”.
Visualization of data in the new platform, from multiple third-party distributed ledger systems, will, at some point, be overlaid with other ITC data, to provide more information about the flow of goods, including certain environmental and social indicators and certifications.
Asia Pacific Rayon, one of the largest viscose-rayon producers in Asia, has signed up to use the system. US based IoT software provider EVRYTHNG and Portuguese waste management company PlataformaVerde have also joined. The World Economic Forum is inviting other brands and suppliers using blockchain to join the programme.
“Transparent supply chains are happening,” said Francisco Betti, head of the World Economic Forum’s so-called ‘platform for shaping the future of advanced manufacturing and production’.
He said the new initiative should encourage industry, also, to “tackle tough questions around privacy and how we connect the physical and digital worlds.”
Leanne Kemp, chief executive at Everledger, said: “To bring the circular economy to fruition, technology will need to deliver greater trust, transparency and traceability, so it’s fantastic to see an increasing number of initiatives driving towards these goals.”
Stefan Doboczky, chief executive at Lenzing Group, said: “As consumers are more aware than ever about the social and environmental impacts of the apparel they purchase, transparency is key to addressing their concerns… Traceability platforms like [this are] essential to support sustainability and fight climate change.”
Dorothy Tembo, executive director at the ITC, said: “Ensuring a sustainable future hinges on our ability to create reliable traceability and transparency across global supply chains. This effort shows that a collaborative platform for digital traceability is technically possible and has the potential to transform how we think about transparency in supply chains.”