Traceability of Ready-to-Wear Clothing through Blockchain Technology
- Tracing the goods transported by ship worldwide as part of international logistics processes, to avoid unnecessary paperwork associated to each container (as an example, sending refrigerated goods from a country in East Africa to another one in Europe requires several stamps and approvals from more than twenty workers and officials).
- Managing fishing industries where the quality control and quality assurance is a challenging task.
- Enabling a record with details about the provenance for each aircraft component.
- Helping to improve integrity and traceability in the global supply chains.
- Transparency and visibility in all the information shared among the different supply chain actors have become essential characteristics for a sustainable supply chain.
- The textile product maintenance affects the durability and recyclability of the product. The maintenance takes place especially during processes such as washing, dyeing and drying. Product maintenance aspects must be shared with retailers, suppliers and consumers.
- Reverse logistics processes must include waste management and the collection of used products. An efficient inverse logistic system should make use of traceability mechanisms.
- Market surveillance ensures that the products meet the proper standards and applicable laws, using data about the origin, history, raw material composition, etc.
- Sales forecasting and production data management use records of real-time product data, enabling more effective and precise sales forecasts, production management, and also control.
- Confidentiality and prevention of data leakages are some of the key concerns of the textile and clothes supply chain in terms of information security. In this respect, cryptographic protocols are one of the advantages of blockchain technology, as they guarantee the protection of data and avoid unauthorized changes.
- Marketing activities are changing and consumers need more information about products. The capability to trace the history of garments helps to promote a positive brand image and increases sales.
2. Blockchain Technology
2.2. Hash Functions
2.3. Digital Signatures
2.4. Merkle Trees
2.5. Blockchain Distributed System for Tracking the Supply Chain
3. Traceability of the Apparel Industry
3.1. Textile Supply Chain
- Suppliers from the raw material network. This information also contains the origin of the material, and some physical properties such as the composition, fineness, fibre length, color, or color fastness.
- Yarns that are woven or knitted into fabrics. The thickness, strength and elongation, colour, colour fastness and humidity level are also included in the spinning phase. In addition to the spinning process, the fabric manufacture also returns information on the weight or the pilling. Machinery suppliers act in the whole fabric manufacture because they are responsible for machinery certification and products validation. These companies certify the history or origin of garments manufacture through their networks for machines and software always connected.
- Information about the production network with the corresponding steps through the garments. The garment assembly is very important when working with prêt à porter clothing, as it includes the design, the data sheet, the basic pattern, data about the scaled clothing, and the industry’s operations for the final assembly.
- Buying offices, agents, domestic apparel companies, and distribution centres or speciality stores as part of the marketing network.
- The retailer or customer that gets the product with some specific characteristics.
- The operations diagram, which is simple, contains less information and specifies the parts, the assembly order and the type of machines to be used. Figure 3 shows one of these operations diagram that were used during our developments.
- The list of phases that specifies the activity to be carried out in the packaging, as well as the frequency, the machine, the type of code of stitch in reference to the activity carried out, and the space for the necessary observations that have been made in the office and that will be passed on to the clothing workshop. It could also include the time per unit (TMU).
3.2. Traceability of Ready-to-Wear Clothing Manufacturing Industry
- The composition and origin of the product, including organic and non-organic compounds, and raw materials that were employed in the elaboration of the final products.
- Detailed information about all the companies and all the suppliers that contribute to the lifecycle of the product.
- Inbound and outbound specific information about material that is provided by suppliers.
- Cost of the final product, calculated as sum of costs of raw material and all intermediate products.
- Lot numbers to facilitate traceability.
- Real-time sales data in different retail channels.
- Raw material and fibre manufacture: it is common to monitor plant growth parameters like temperature, blend, moisture and fertility. Furthermore, raw material and fibre manufacture are also responsible for the processes or period of getting the crops. Chain records should contain, at the very least, location, types of fibres, origin, treatments, and performance characteristics of fibres durability, strength, elasticity, and flexibility.
- Fabric manufacture is the set of operations that allow to derive fabric from fibres. In order to ensure traceability, records of the processes and raw materials employed to create the fabric should be kept on the chain. This should include the suppliers’ detailed information, the date provided, a description of the received products, types of fibres, records of internal procedures (e.g., carding and spinning), chemical composition (including additives), distribution records, etc. At this step, the fabric may be sent to a distributor or a clothing manufacturer.
- Garment assembly: the clothing manufacturer is responsible for receiving fabrics from the producers or distributor and producing the garment. From the design of a garment to the packing of a finished product, several data elements are required. The information that should be recorded at this stage includes grading, pattern making, nesting, marking, cutting, sewing, quality inspection, pressing and packaging. Given that the identification and labelling of each garment is performed at this stage, it is important to ensure consistency of the information that appears on the label and the records stored on the blockchain.
- Distribution and sales includes:
- Finished goods distributor: the load received by the goods distributor are dispatched to wholesalers or retailers. The responsibilities of goods distributor include receiving, storing, dispatching, and managing the inventory of finished goods. At this step of the process, if any re-packing or re-labelling is needed, the new details must be inserted into the blockchain.
- Wholesalers, which receive the finished goods from distributors, dispatch them to retail stores. Wholesalers are responsible for the logistic process, with the reception of garments, storage in the corresponding warehouse, and finally, the dispatch of the goods. For that reason, they also need to maintain consistency of the information stored in the blockchain.
- Retailers, which receive finished goods from wholesalers or the goods distributors, sell them to end customers. When a garment is sold, the information must be accordingly recorded in the blockchain. Retailers are responsible for managing the details of the items they have received and stored. After storing the information on the blockchain, consumers will be able to see the provenance of the purchased garment by entering the identification number on the website.
- Other entities: In addition to the above mentioned entities, there are other participants in the supply chain that are not directly related to the production or processing of garments. Some of these stakeholders are machinery (thread suppliers, dye and chemical, and label suppliers), freight operators responsible for transporting goods, and importers that are responsible for buying goods from the original manufacturer and delivering them to the destination country.
- The block version indicating the set of rules to be followed.
- The Merkle tree root and the hash value obtained from all the transactions in the block.
- A timestamp with the current time (typically measured in seconds passed since 1 January 1970).
- The limit of a valid block hash.
- A nonce consisting in a 4-byte value.
- The parent block hash pointing to the previous block (typically computed with the SHA-256 function).
- The new block hash with a SHA-256 hash value pointing to the next block.
- Additional information as block description.
4. Garment Traceability: A Case Study
|Algorithm 1: How to trace a garment|
- Unique identification code for textile agents and their role within the production chain, marketing, distribution, and sale of the textile unit to be registered.
- Location of the establishment where the textile unit is located at the time of registration.
- Unique code and batch number of the textile unit.
- All the intervening agents must corroborate the identity of their buyers and their suppliers, providing their unique identification code for textile agents, as well as certify the delivery or reception of the textile units to them.
- Information on the following activities may be incorporated: Shipping and reception of the product in a state of return, deteriorated or destroyed code, stolen or lost product.
- String: Material: 100% viscose. Extracted from plant-based products. Made from wood pulp. Chemical treatment with ammonia, acetone, and sulphuric acid. From China. Durability: 7 years.#70:00b5ed758dfc28ff6fd56b7a1b6d2ccb279c82121695e337b528ae460eee126a#293:00034157ad04991ca0a2e7a54f3ac4bce74b87a0ab708b06446d5af3573e3e00#129697:000069b2ee4512a3178cb56343ff30d24c089d47c34209a51de17f97e12734dc#1206386:00000a1d995b03a0f248f076e255b0cd11f4392a5d96f7ba4b6bfb8eab54cfa2#11094201:000000db8d2f7b35ba38bf5c17e090aa54fd466a8486ac114820ce28ae035c99
- String: Wet spinning process in which H2SO4 reacs to Na2SO4, which is recycled to H2SO4 in an additional process.#185:00c603ca0b14f99ff32c44efb7d7997e19c33970faeaefeeced46b08fcd84d95#945:0006d1d709ff63fb48825a711fa908bbe4ce1af483b89deaba2d7fec70ff21a6#2115:00002d8285f59b2904759f831ddfa778f35c83c649beee816d64e4ccb5627048#281320:000005089e0b762c0e123b03c372e79a270a02683b1f61ac22e991bd418ae505#26585528:0000003c20fdd23e189aae6ee3a043348cb6b090609a0eb8de81f1a7f3d0e512
- String: Patterns make by a Spanish designer company. Specific software is used for this. Quality inspection passed each 2 years.#229:00c5afbbf8819443302e32e56bb241fae320c561c5aa63cc5f78d9d13c0d74ad#3851:0001835e911982a3f000c76bc2675f568634e50688f208222078a9b5a4ab63e1#49592:0000f7b48c117c8696e1a090c90441011594626a157d5290ef39ea63491c17af#2240215:000005c93ea7674006f463065ffb4ba6cf57a2f66c26bc1571e619cef30e5e8b#15075051:000000d11b1baffbe98fc631f103bc6f751a0e30b69b6b7dc921755aabe780c2
- String: Recibido en España por El Corte Inglés central logistics platform (Calle Carpetanos, 85, 28320 Pinto, Madrid). Distribuido por El Corte Inglés de Salamanca (María Auxiliadora 71-85, 37004 - Salamanca). Local de venta: Sfera: C/ Toro 40, 37002 - Salamanca.#729:00c591befee611245b6945015e59c9b25f5b4be02298396a2ed23452c0d0585f#5798:000b3052094c977db55da14b8f03a5538c23107d89cc813ade074ff71c3fa4a1#63038:0000739ffe583f37667a93d95313c04d9470c045a598685706f9d207b18decb9#767278:00000404b6ead67fca498533f6c1ec785ac91a99d50cae83b3400688fd5e676d#10094157:0000003a01f51e59dce09b6242683ff54f1aac9caf9ede5a2b48b3eca49a4890
Conflicts of Interest
|DLT||Distributed Ledger Technology|
|ECDSA||Elliptic Curve Discrete Logarithm Algorithm|
|EdDSA||Edwards-curve Digital Signature Algorithm|
|IoT||Internet of Things|
|NIST||National Institute of Standards and Technology|
|SHA||Secure Hash Algorithm|
|TOWF||Trapdoor One-Way Functions|
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Bullón Pérez, J.J.; Queiruga-Dios, A.; Gayoso Martínez, V.; Martín del Rey, Á. Traceability of Ready-to-Wear Clothing through Blockchain Technology. Sustainability 2020, 12, 7491. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187491
Bullón Pérez JJ, Queiruga-Dios A, Gayoso Martínez V, Martín del Rey Á. Traceability of Ready-to-Wear Clothing through Blockchain Technology. Sustainability. 2020; 12(18):7491. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187491Chicago/Turabian Style
Bullón Pérez, Juan José, Araceli Queiruga-Dios, Víctor Gayoso Martínez, and Ángel Martín del Rey. 2020. "Traceability of Ready-to-Wear Clothing through Blockchain Technology" Sustainability 12, no. 18: 7491. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12187491