Textile supply chains: from balancing act to sustainable sourcing

By Alexander Ellebrecht | October 31, 2014

Over the last decade, balancing product quality with laws, rules and regulations whilst protecting your brand has become a top priority for textile producers and retailers. Today, effective textile supply chain management has become a balancing act between cost, quality, availability and environmental and social aspects. 

bobbins.jpgOngoing questions about the origin and production of textile products are a new reality that the industry will have to cope with. The public expects greater transparency and a responsible attitude towards people and the planet from the brands they buy. This in increasingly stark contrast to, for example, the low social and environmental standards in major producing countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, Pakistan and Vietnam, which have recently resulted in some high profile accidents.

Short product cycles and long production lead-times can easily lead to forecasting errors. Fluctuating supply and demand leads to strong price variations, potentially harming both the ability to produce sufficient quantities of finished products as well as bottom line results.

Intelligent transparency through the supply chain

Intelligent transparency, and therefore information, is the answer to today’s textile supply chain challenges. You need to be able to drill down to the relevant hot spots in your supply chain, from the producer of raw material to the ginners, agents, spinners, fabric makers and processors. In the case of cotton, for example, you need to be able to trace all the way back up to the producer when considering issues such as water and pesticide use.

Running an effective sourcing operation is difficult without sufficient insight. Running a sustainable business is impossible without transparency through the supply chain.

The benefits of supply chain transparency

By implementing a solution for supply chain transparency (mapping, Chain of Custody models), you will be able to:

  • Improve cost effectiveness of your sourcing operations;
  • Safeguard product and production quality;
  • Manage capacity and availability;
  • Contribute to better working conditions and a better world.

The role of IT in your supply chain

Textile.pngHow do you get access to the information you need in order to manage cost, availability, quality and sustainability? A typical textile supply chain spans hundreds to many thousands of individual companies, each of them using their own administrative tools containing bits and pieces of information about your products. 

That’s where IT solutions such as our cloud based ChainPoint platform come in to prove their value. By connecting the information from relevant parties in your supply chain, you are able to get a holistic view of every critical aspect of your product, be it the future availability of raw material, the performance of individual suppliers, traceability of used materials or overall performance improvements to your supply chain.

In order to get clear insight into the entire textile supply chain, such an IT solution must offer at least the following technological capabilities:

  • Supply chain analytics to provide insight into areas of further improvement over the whole supply chain.
  • Supplier assessments to drive sustainability and improve product quality at the supplier level.
  • Traceability to help track products from source to consumer.
  • Auditability as a proof point and a basis for storytelling.
  • Collaboration capabilities with, for example, other textile manufacturers or standards organizations such as BCI to increase engagement of your supply chain.

Of course IT is just part of the overall solution. On top of that, you will need to have the right people and processes in place to ensure true supply chain transparency can be achieved.

Do you want to learn more about implementing textile supply chain transparency?

Read our customer case on the Better Cotton Initiative, or request our solution paper 'From cotton to counter, a step-by-step approach to building a more sustainable textile supply chain'. 

 Download our Cotton to Counter Solution Paper


Posted in textile supply chain, cotton supply chain

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