Nike, Macy’s Tap Auburn University’s RFID Labs To Build Blockchain Supply Tracking Pilot

  • Top retailer brands might soon integrate their supply ecosystems following a blockchain research initiative by Auburn University.
  • This project has the support of market leaders such as Nike, Calvin Klein and Macy’s.
  • They are set to leverage Radio frequency Identification (RFID) tags and blockchain to track their products movement across the supply chain.

The research dubbed ‘Chain Integration Project’ (CHIP) pioneered a Hyperledger fabric blockchain which has since recorded thousands of items with Nike leading the pack. Stats show that an estimated $98 billion is incurred by retailers annually in a bid to fight counterfeit products and inaccuracies. This narrative is however bound to change if CHIP achieves its goal of creating a secure and decentralized ecosystem for sharing data.

The CHIP Project Fundamentals

This idea came to light based on an ongoing research by RFID Labs, the Auburn University subsidiary has been working on supply chain integration with emerging tech. As it stands, most retailers have their own internal tracking systems; Nike for instance has been using RFID tags to keep tabs of its inventory. Given the different recording systems, data sharing amongst retailers has been but a long audit process.

The Hyperledger Fabric blockchain by RFID and its retail partners will allow participants to write and read data records on a common network. Basically, there is an internal translator tool that will convert integrated data from retailers to EPCIS standard for general readability. RFID’s Lab director, Justin Patton, is optimistic about CHIP’s potential;

“By exploring the intersection of RFID and blockchain technology, we've taken an important step in our mission to help rid the retail supply chain of costly errors and inefficiencies caused by outdated processes and legacy systems.”

Despite the support from large retail brands, this project will prove its feasibility once integrated with billions of nodes as per the normal numbers in supply chain. So far, the network has only recorded 222,974 items.

RFID labs next agenda is to take this project through a consultative process in order to evaluate business cases that can leverage CHIP for value addition. Other big players that have piloted blockchain ecosystems include Coca-cola, LVMH and New Balance which partnered with NBA star, Kawhi Leonard.

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