The UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT) is designing, prototyping, and testing a new technology platform with technology companies like IBM, Tech Data, and the Future Fashion Factory to assist the fashion and textile sector to improve sustainability and profitability through enhanced supply chain transparency.
The Sustainable Supply Chain Optimisation (SSCO) project's initial nine-month experiment will include retailers Next, H&M (COS brand), N Brown, New Look, and yarn manufacturer Laxtons.
According to UKFT press release, Innovate UK, which is part of UK Research and Innovation, has granted £1.4 million funding to the initiative on behalf of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Manufacturing Made Smarter Challenge.
Adam Mansell, CEO of the UK Fashion and Textile Association (UKFT), said that a strategic aim for the UK fashion and textile sector is to become synonymous with sustainable and ethical goods, methods, and production. The goal of this initiative is to increase transparency in the industry in order to improve the competitiveness of UK textile and garment manufacturers while lowering the sector's environmental and ethical impact.
The new technology platform will combine emerging technologies such as blockchain, artificial intelligence (AI), and sensors to digitize critical supply-chain operations, resulting in a shared data system that all stakeholders can trust and act on. The supply chain will be more transparent thanks to Blockchain technology.
The AI technology will help detect and respond to supply chain disruptions, as well as give insights for real-time analysis of current business performance, rapid problem solving, and business flow optimization. It will be open-source and accessible across the whole supply chain, with an integrated visualization layer as the main focus of innovation.
Through the site, users will be able to learn more about where and how each garment's fabric was processed and finished, as well as by whom and under what conditions. Potential interruptions will be easier to identify before they have a chance to affect delivery. It will also be possible to better monitor industrial processes and flows, thereby reducing waste and optimize stock.
These new levels of information will enable real, measurable, and auditable actions across the whole supply chain, allowing for a better understanding of and compliance with the UN's Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) requirements, as well as improved operational efficiency.
In essence, the platform will be built to assist a complicated and fragmented global supply chain to become more sustainable, robust, and capable of dealing with unanticipated disruptions.
Joanne Poynor, Next's head of sustainable development, said that working together, they’re pleased to support the development of a new supply chain platform tool for the apparel and textiles sector, to facilitate the gathering of robust sustainability data and provide clear visibility of environmental and ethical impacts to empower better decisions.
Sue Fairley, head of sourcing, sustainability, and quality at New Look said that they’re thrilled to be taking part in the UKFT SSCO Project as part of New Look's fundamental strategic commitment to integrating sustainable practices across the business. They recognize that working together on this project will reduce complexity, enhance transparency, and aid in the development of long-term solutions that provide more comforting visibility of the people and surroundings affected along the value chain. They expect UKFT to expedite transformation by bringing new technologies and global networks together, allowing the provenance of the items they sell to be opened up from origin to end-user.
Roberto Battistoni, consumer products business development lead at IBM, said that this initiative brings together the essential players needed to improve trust across the whole supply chain Simultaneously, there is a chance to minimize waste and have a long-term influence on how the earth's resources are used.
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