The Auburn University RFID Lab has publicly announced the CHIP Project, a blockchain proof-of-concept for serialized data exchange in the retail and apparel supply chain. CHIP, an acronym for CHain Integration Pilot, will be the first of its kind in the industry, with the goal of integrating item-level data streams from various stakeholders into a blockchain solution, creating a common record of information jointly shared by trade partners that will enable end-to-end visibility and data-driven decision making throughout the value chain.
Since the inception of the project in June 2018, CHIP has onboarded 21 partners that will participate directly in the proof-of-concept and support the project as a collective working group. There are currently 5 brand owners including PVH Corp., Herman Kay, Under Armour, and Spanx as well as four national retailers and one global logistics provider contributing to project efforts. Over half a dozen technology solution providers are engaged on the project as well, including Avery Dennison, Checkpoint, IBM, Mojix,Smartrac, SML and Zebra Technologies. These solution providers will be supporting data capture systems and other IoT infrastructure as well as helping develop the blockchain solution. Strategic partnerships with GS1 US, Collaboration LLC, Elverston, LLC, Mindy Rector Consulting, and Tuskegee University will also propel the project forward and ensure compliance with global standards and experienced project leadership.
PROJECT PARTNERS that have elected to identify:
Another key step for the RFID Lab is joining Hyperledger, a global collaboration hosted by the Linux Foundation that aims to advance cross-industry blockchain technologies. Hyperledger is a multi-venture, multi-stakeholder effort that includes various enterprise blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. By becoming a new Hyperledger member, the Auburn University RFID Lab joins industry leaders in finance, banking, Internet of Things, supply chain, manufacturing and technology, and will be positioned to inform and influence the direction and application of blockchain technologies across the globe.
Due to the sophistication of current supply chains, data exchange between partners can be challenging and cumbersome, as proven by Project Zipper, a national data exchange study conducted by the RFID Lab since 2017. As a result, supply chain touch points and the data they generate are often isolated from one another – a problem that the CHIP project aims to address by connecting the digital dots on a global scale. By capturing and contributing item-level data streams such as EPC, QR Code, SSCC, and other SGTIN-based methods into a blockchain solution, an item-level record of product information will be created for goods flowing from one supply chain stakeholder to the next. RFID, serialized case code, and other capture systems will tie into the blockchain solution, which will serve as a medium for data exchange and a platform for leveraging the supply-chain-wide data. The blockchain solution will be powered by Hyperledger Fabric, one of the open source frameworks made available by Hyperledger.
Supply chain is widely touted as a premiere landscape for blockchain-based solutions, and while many theories and consortiums exist in the space, fewer real-world implementations have been deployed or tested. By conducting the CHIP project and incorporating industry stakeholders around the globe, the Auburn University RFID Lab aims to encourage adoption of serialized data and blockchain technologies and usher in the next generation of supply chain innovation. The completion date for the first phase of the project is set to be November 2019 and a white paper detailing its findings will be published immediately thereafter.