Interview with Software Firms

Topic

Will blockchain have a direct bearing on the way ERP / PLM solutions roll out in the future?

Blockchain technology will shorten lead times
Blockchain can introduce an element of transparency in the supply chain-a demand that wears heavily on the apparel-fashion industry. Fibre2Fashion asks experts where does blockchain fit into both ERP and PLM solutions.

 

Right now, we're not seeing a lot of demand for blockchain technology in the apparel industry, although that may change in the future as consumers become increasingly aware of supply chain issues and look for more watertight assurances about the origins of the products they buy. The exception is in luxury goods, where companies are looking into blockchain technology to prove the provenance or authenticity of goods. PLM / ERP vendors serving that market will have to consider the integration of blockchain technology if there is a significant demand for it.

New technologies such as blockchain will be integrated into the digital supply chain; blockchain technology will shorten lead times and reduce friction throughout the overall supply chain, helping companies quickly deliver products to consumers. Blockchain is already proving its value in other industries, and it will have a similar impact in fashion.

ERP and PLM will not need to handle actual blockchain chains. But they will need to accept information from those chains to use, and will need to be able to pass information to write to a chain. Blockchain solutions themselves will handle the reading and writing. ERP will pass the information along. Likewise, if PLM is outputting items that are going to go into production in a factory, it might pass item data to a blockchain solution that would then create a new chain to track that specific item's lifecycle.

Blockchain is an intriguing technology-more for its potential than current applications. The peer-to-peer network technology of blockchain will bring utmost data visibility at all stages of a supply chain; supplier contracts will become transparent, highly secure and unbreachable with Smart Contracts and every financial transaction will be virtually risk-free and quick.

Similar is the case with PLM. Blockchain technology allows the people involved in a product development cycle to collaborate with the right data, putting the product at the heart of the system. It adds "proof of work" and "timestamps" at every stage of a process, which makes this technology perfect for managing lead times.

If it is a high-fashion brand, authenticity is a major benefit. Workflows need be integrated to PLM / ERP. For example, relating to payments, blockchain can facilitate payments and the ERP can complete the entire transaction. In addition, ethical compliance related to sustainability, documents can be part of the blockchain (connected to the ERP) and have system of record for audit trail.

Adopting a common secure platform across the value chain is the best way to maintain transparency. In situations where a common platform cannot be adopted, blockchain provides a common methodology for supply chain verification across platform boundaries. This provides a choice between adopting a common methodology, or adopting a common platform. Bamboo Rose advocates for a common platform while recognising that 100 per cent adoption is never a truly achievable and blockchain provides a means to cross the platform gaps when necessary.

Published on: 14/11/2019

DISCLAIMER: All views and opinions expressed in this column are solely of the interviewee, and they do not reflect in any way the opinion of Fibre2Fashion.com.

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