RAGTRADER L!VE: Expert issues traceability prediction in 2030 roadmap
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RAGTRADER L!VE: Expert issues traceability prediction in 2030 roadmap

Aug 21, 2023

Speaking at Ragtrader Live in Melbourne, Press said there has already been moves locally and internationally in product traceability.

“Everybody's been raising product passports as one of the key things we need to do if we're going to move into a circular system,” Press said. “If you can't see your assets in the system - if you can't trace them - then how can you begin to figure out how to capture that efficiency, and bring it back to home or elsewhere to keep it going.”

Press mentioned a New York-based tech firm called EON, led by Natasha Franck, which has established a product cloud software. Press said Franck told her the product passport technology is already here.

In Australia, key retailers such as Kmart, Kookai, City Chic and Myer have implemented radio frequency identification (RFID) technology either in stores or through their supply chains.

In particular, Kmart launched an in-store robot called Tory (short for inventory) this year, which can do stocktake once a day across an average 8,000 square metres of floor space.

Kmart began rolling out the RFID technology in January 2022, supplied by Checkpoint, which is now across 243 of its 324 stores in Australia and New Zealand.

Meanwhile, Kookai implemented RFID technology in its manufacturing facilities in Fiji and Sri Lanka in early 2022.

The business has tagged all the garments it manufacturers with an integrated RFID Printed Fabric Label (PFL), which tracks the inventory process from production to quality control and then to finished goods.

This allows the business to conduct a stocktake of 30,000 items in 30 minutes at its Fiji factory – a process that used to take a few days.

“It actually isn't a big leap, although it is logistically,” Press continued. “I'm gonna say it takes a lot of working together to create an interoperable system of a product cloud where everybody can get together and put all of that information up there. But EON is working with huge brands such as Target [US], PVH [apparel group], and anyone can do it.”

However, Press said the product passport solution has yet to cover every single product in any large company, but it will soon be possible.

“I think it's about setting the intention to begin,” she said. “Of course, what they're doing now is tagging or producing these passports for new product - we've got no answer for the product that already exists.

“However, when you're considering what an interconnected system would look like, we have to consider all the stuff that's already there. And that's probably around sorting for circularity projects using our technology such as scanners, trying to stop it being one human on a conveyor belt saying that looks like denim, recognizing that we have this digital possibility.”

Another key technology that Press highlighted as key is fibre traceability. One of the key local players is global firm FibreTrace which covers both cotton and wool - two key resources farmed in Australia.

Earlier this year, FibreTrace released a free digital traceability solution for the textile industry, which maps the global textile supply chain from fibre to retail.

The globally accessible platform called 'FibreTrace Mapped' eliminates the barrier to transparency for producers, manufacturers, brands and retailers.

“I get that people feel worried, and that the task before us is huge,” Press said. “But as somebody who travels around the world and looks at what they're doing in other jurisdictions as a job, I feel that at this moment in Australia - with Leila and all of the different stakeholders coming together to build this framework that we're doing - it is radical; it's great.”

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