NEW YORK – US denim brand Levi Strauss will pilot the use of blockchain technology to monitor factory safety in supply chains. A promising new solution, developed in collaboration with Harvard University and US think tank, New America, could potentially augment and replace external factory health and safety auditors with a self-reporting infrastructure by factory workers.
A report by Reuters news agency suggests three Levi Strauss’ factories located in Mexico employing 5,000 workers will be the first to use the system this year, while another pilot is planned for next year. The system will put an annual safety survey on a blockchain reportedly use an index developed by the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.
Allison Price, executive director of Blockchain Trust Accelerator at New America, said that putting the survey result on a blockchain means that “the results will never be manipulated.”
The blockchain will be provided by ConsenSys, the blockchain company founded by Joseph Lubin, one of Ethereum’s original authors.
Blockchain is the technology which underpins digital currency such as Bitcoin, Litecoin and Ethereum. The technology allows digital information to be distributed, but not copied, meaning that each individual piece of data can only have one owner.
This information is constantly reconciled into a database, which is stored in multiple locations and updated instantly. That means the records are public and verifiable and, since there’s no central location, it is harder to hack since the information exists simultaneously in millions of places.
One of blockchain technology’s most promising applications is to supply chain and inventory management and, beyond factory auditing, many believe blockchain has relevance within broader textile supply chains.
Fashion supply chains often opaque, involving the sourcing of raw fibres and materials from farmers, fabrics and leathers from textile mills and tanneries, and garments from cut and sew and finishing factories. Meanwhile, distribution networks are vast and complex.
Blockchain technology could, in theory, provide solutions for consumers who, at present, ack visibility into how garments are produced and transported into local shops or e-commerce markets.