Supply Chain Innovation

Traceability: Supply Chain Mapping and Risk Assessment

Globalization has led to the emergence of low cost, efficient (and perhaps risky) supply chains spanning multiple countries. Sourcing regions exhibit a wide range of economic, political, social, labor and environmental standards, which – combined with heightened public awareness – means that full traceability of a product and its components is likely to become a consistent demand made by governments, civil society organizations, and consumers. In response, companies must make supply chain mapping and product tracing a standard business practice.

Project Objective: FLA’s product tracking and risk mapping approach facilitates traceability and transparency, and evaluates risks to help companies make better sourcing decisions and mitigate issues before they arise.

Product Tracking Tool: FLA’s online product tracking tool allows companies and suppliers to map their supply chains and further trace the lifecycle of a product, from conceptualization through production. The tool alerts companies to risks embedded at critical levels of the supply chain – for example, in the harvesting of raw materials such as cotton. In addition to the standalone Product Tracking Tool, FLA conducts physical verification of risks and makes recommendations for improving conditions for workers by mitigating those issues.

Testing and Pilot Project: Since 2010, the Product Tracking Tool has been tested for a variety of supply chains including garments, accessories, agricultural products, cotton, leather and synthetics. In 2011, FLA began work on a pilot program with the European retailer, Primark, using FLA’s Product Tracking Tool as a means to trace cotton supply chain risks for one of their products manufactured in India. This project included:

  • In-person training for Primark staff and suppliers in India; 
  • Upstream tracing and risk assessment of the cotton supply chain using FLA's online tool;
  • Recommendation on the next steps; and
  • The option to work with FLA to verify the supply chain.

Download a fact sheet on FLA's traceability work here.