Haelixa X Denimsandjeans Talk On Traceability In Denim Manufacturing
Dr. Michela Puddu- Co-Founder and CEO of Haelixa, a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich) which offers traceability solutions to denim manufactures and brands, spoke to Sandeep Agarwal from Denimsanjdeans on Wednesday, Feb 17. Since Haelixa has come out with a new technology related to TRACEABILITY in denim industry , there was an heightened interest to know how it can help the industry achieve sustainability objectives. And hence this webinar titled ‘ Value and Benefits of Product Traceability For Denim Manufacturers and Brands’. was held . Haelixa’s DNA marking system is path breaking and we bring some excerpts from the talk.
Key Points From The Talk
Haelixa is a spin-off of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH Zurich). The two founders of the company Michela Puddu (CEO) and Gediminas Mikutis (CTO) researched and developed an innovative technology based on DNA to mark and trace products from source to retail. After their Ph.D., they commercialized their innovation and founded Haelixa in 2016.
Today the company works with brands, retailers, and manufacturers in the textile, gold, and gemstone industry (among others) to create supply chain transparency through traceability and support claims related to sustainability and other standards.
HOW THE SYSTEM WORKS
Dr Michela made a presentation about how their technology works. She mentioned that in order to increase transparency and responsibility, there have been several certification schemes established in the textile supply chain including blockchains but these solutions have often failed to verify the product claims. The various certifications have been for making product claims but tracing still leaves a lot to be desired.
She mentioned that Haelixa found a way to substantiate the product claim by turning the product into information about its journey and its integrity. The technology is based on DNA markers which enables them to provide a unique DNA code for each product or a batch of products enabling easy traceability.
A special solution is created with these unique codes and which are then sprayed over the fibres, or yarns/ fabrics / garments etc. depending on what needs to be traced. The product absorb these DNA markers and then stay there in the product for most of its lifetime. So in this way, the product information travels with the product itself and can neither be manipulated nor removed in anyway.
Haelixa finds its solution extremely versatile. Dr. Michela Puddu, while explaining the technology, said that through the use of DNA they can make available an unlimited number of unique fingerprints to provide a unique identifier all fiber tyes including natural and recycled cellulose and a manufacturer can determine what code of the traceability program and which product data are the most valuable and most relevant to them.
Markers are very easy to apply and harmless and don’t affect the properties of the product. The marker is harmless for humans and the environment, GMO-free, approved as chemical inputs by GOTS and OekoTex 100 compliant, yet strong enough to withstand industrial processing. She also mentioned that Haelixa markers are the only physical markers APPROVED BY GOTS.
By using Haelixa DNA markers, the product can be traced at any point of time and all the information in regards to the journey of the product is accessible to enable the user to match the product information with the claims made.
The Q&A Session
There was a huge interest in the webinar from the audience with over 65 questions being asked ! Many of these were answered , though some of them were still could not. Sandeep Agarwal read out the questions on behalf of the audience and were answered by her – clarifying most of the queries. We bring a few of the questions that were discussed.
Que. : The solution you provide is in the form of a spray, right? Can it affect the nature of the product, say for example the fibre or cotton?
Dr. Michela Puddu: Yes, the markers we provide are in liquid form which you can spray on the cotton or fibre or can also be integrated during the production process. The marker doesn’t alter the organic nature of the product and is GMO-free, approved as chemical inputs by GOTS and OekoTex 100 compliant.
Que. : Haelixa performs all these traceability tests using the DNA marker in their own laboratory or do you have partner laboratories also?
Dr. Michela Puddu: We performed the test in our laboratory as well as we have several partners who perform the tests on our behalf which means that the 3rd party testing is also possible.
Que. : Where do the data related to the product and its traceability trail get stored? Whether it’s online or you have any other system to store the data?
Dr. Michela Puddu: On that we are flexible, we work with our client and partners and decide. Every time we do our verification test and if the client relies on us, the data goes in our tracking system and the client can check the information at any point in time. Also if a client wishes to share the tracking data with their client, they can do the same.
Que. : How do you compare the blockchain technology and other physical tracing solution available in the market with your solution?
Dr. Michela Puddu: Blockchain is certainly a great tool to record the supply chain transaction in a secure and transparent way but the blockchain can not guarantee that the data stored in the blockchain technology is authentic and that’s where we come as we provide data that can neither be manipulated nor replaced in anyways and always travels with the product. Our system can also connect with blockchain also with the data provided by us to make it more secure and transparent.
Que. : One of the key issues in the retail industry is Counterfeiting, does your solution help in controlling counterfeiting in any way?
Dr. Michela Puddu: Yes, Absolutely! While tracing the product journey we also the protection against counterfeiting because the marker is also labeled on the article. The moment you find the marker and you identify the product you can always prove that this one is a real one and not a fake or copy.
There was also an interesting Q&A which was done during the talks to bring out visitor response to various aspects of traceability. Three polls were done and the answers gave a lot insights into what the people were looking for.
The complete talk is essential to watch and understand the different aspects of this technology. Do watch out the same on Denimsandjeans Youtube channel (do subscribe to remain notified !) .
You can also watch the complete talk on our youtube channel , the video link of the talk is here