In a world where many of us depend every day on our smartphones, tablets and laptops, it’s fair to say that there’s a huge reliance on minerals such as tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold (3TG). In some cases, minerals are sourced from conflict zones – so-called Conflict Minerals – where people, including children, are forced to work in dangerous mining conditions, whilst the money obtained for supplying such minerals goes towards buying arms, only further fuelling conflict. For children trapped in these conditions, it’s more than a bit ironic to say that technology is an enabler that helps people improve their situation and living conditions.
However, at ChainPoint, we do feel that technology actually does play an important role in avoiding child labour and reducing conflict minerals in supply chains, because ChainPoint’s technology helps make supply chains more transparent.
Supply chain transparency begins with insight, and insight means getting an overview of a supply chain’s network of actors. To get an overview of the supplier network, and to follow the flow of products and information along a supply chain, a substantial amount of data needs to be collected. This data is often highly confidential and complex. Writing this information down on paper (or Excel for that matter) will not improve the quality nor the efficiency of data collection and only slows down the process of gaining supply chain insight and selectively sharing information with other actors in the chain. A far more effective and efficient approach is to use an online platform, such as ChainPoint, for supply chain mapping, data collection and supply chain collaboration.
ChainPoint provides supply chain actors at various tiers in the chain with simple, user-friendly software solutions where data can be collected (even at remote locations) and actors can work together towards gaining supply chain transparency. Starting with an overview of the supply chain, including all actors and the flow of commodities through the chain (traceability), a strong understanding of the supply chain network can be built up. Taking things a step further, the results of risk assessments, audits and on-the-ground monitoring can be attached to actors registered in ChainPoint. This means that information about supply chain risks and compliance can be tied to traceability information. In this way, risks can be rapidly mitigated, and downstream actors can be presented with a compliance profile which is directly relevant to their supplies.
The three most important things
What remains important, no matter how many tiers you cover in your supply chain, are at least the following points:
- Data Quality: This is something that’s really hard to ensure it with pen and paper. Technology such as ChainPoint can automate many data quality assurance tasks.
- Security: Complex supply chains involve many, many actors. Having a system in place which guards data from access, but also makes it available when necessary, is important. ChainPoint was built from day one to keep data security firmly in mind.
- Ease of data sharing: When complex supply chains collect many thousands of elements of data, Excel just doesn’t cut it anymore when it comes to reporting that data in a selective way that’s targeted to specific downstream actors. ChainPoint is specifically designed for this role.
In our solution paper, we outline conflict minerals, OECD due diligence, regulations and much more. Please feel free to download it now.