Tuesday, July 01, 2014
Underwriters Laboratories Offers Preventative Intelligence for Supply Chain Sustainability
Sara Greenstein is the president of supply chain and sustainability at Underwriters Laboratories - yes, the same company responsible for the UL logo on millions of goods.
To my surprise UL offer a number of informative supply chain intelligence products which give every player in the supply chain the tools to be compliant and sustainable. Who knew.
I asked Sara a few questions to get a better grip on what UL is up to:
SG: Managing global supply chains from end-to-end has become exceedingly complex. With increased product complexity, mounting competitive pressures, the need for more suppliers to complete product requirements and shorter product lifecycles, supply chains have become a confusing informational labyrinth the byproduct of which is creation of more non-sustainably made products that are unsafe for human use, toxic for the environment or made through socially unacceptable labor practices.
In short, the issues found within the modern end-to-end supply chain have greater impact to the world around us then we ever anticipated. And this has to change. Given the major human, environmental and societal impact that supply chains are having, we must now move our attention to transforming our global supply chains from end-to-end in order to remove harmful product attributes. And this is where UL’s Information & Insight (I&I) division comes into play.
As you know, UL the global independent safety science leader, recently announced the expansion of its new I&I division. For background, I&I was purposely created to provide all supply chain stakeholders - from material suppliers, formulators, manufacturers, distributors to retailers - with access to the most comprehensive end-to-end supply chain intelligence needed to make better informed decisions related to sustainable product creation.
By providing “preventative intelligence” with a state-of-the-art SaaS platform, I&I customers receive real-time product attribute intelligence and have the ability to research, vet and then remove non-sustainable product attributes, thereby mitigating significant inventory risk, before products land on shelves or lead to expensive, reputation-damaging recalls.
UL’s recent acquisitions of The Wercs, GoodGuide, PurView and Prospector (formally IDES and Innovadex) form the basis of the I&I division which provides end-to-end supply chain insight from materials and chemicals search, to granular product attribute data to materials safety data sheets (MSDS) related to on-premise product regulatory compliance and more.
Q: How will consumers know if a supply chain has passed? Is there a label or Good Housekeeping seal?
SG: While parent company UL is known for providing seals related to product safety and sustainability which consumers have become familiar with, I&I is not a inherently a focused brand. Instead, I&I provides connected data and information across that supply chain that related businesses including suppliers, formulators, manufacturers and retailers use to inform their product development decision making processes. This said, I&I does have a consumer facing solution with GoodGuide.
GoodGuide provides consumers with access to expert-based information about the health, environmental and social performance of products and companies. The GoodGuide service (platform and app) helps consumers make purchasing decisions that reflect their sustainability preferences and values.
As more consumers buy better products, retailers and manufacturers face compelling incentives to make products that are safe, environmentally sustainable and produced using ethical sourcing of raw materials and labor.
Thanks Sara, but you should reconsider a UL stamp for supply chains for consumer products. It would be helpful to know that I am buying from a sustainable supply chain.