Transparency-One Offers Total Supply Chain Transparency to Large Retailers and Manufacturers with Neo4j

The Challenge

Today’s supply chains are vast and wide-ranging, which makes them fertile ground for risk: fraud, contamination, insecure production sites and unknown product sources, to name just a few. These are all factors that make transparency both more vital and more complex. For example, the recent food scandal, where horse meat in dishes was officially labelled as beef, which came to light in 2013, showed the need for manufacturers to have precise information about the products being used to create the finished product, as well as all participants in the supply chain. In fact, most brands only know their direct suppliers, with very poor visibility into the sub-contractors working for their manufacturers.

Recognizing this problem, Transparency-One developed a platform which allows manufacturers and brand owners to learn about, monitor, analyze and search their supply chain, and to share significant data about production sites and products.

The Solution

Generally, the new solution involved addressing three major themes:
    • Discovery: creating supply chain transparency for all products in partnership with manufacturers
    • Analysis: ensuring the traceability of all products, suppliers and facilities
    • Search: allowing users to search for each product affected by specific raw materials or specific issues with facilities

To develop the solution, Transparency-One initially turned to a classic SQL database-type solution. But it quickly realized that the volume and structure of information to be processed would have a major impact on performance, causing considerable problems.

So the Transparency-One team began to look at graph databases.

Chris Morrison noted: “As we had decided on a graph database, we looked at which databases of this type were used by leading players. The answer was clear and unequivocal: It was Neo4j, the world leader in this field with an established reputation.”

The decision was confirmed when Transparency-One began using Neo4j, which requires no specific technical knowledge of graphs. Transparency-One also had the support of a Neo4j partner, Ekino, for the implementation.

Transparency-One chose Neo4j because only a graph database could meet the requirements of the platform; the decisive factors were Neo4j’s capacity to manage large volumes of data, and the fact that it is the most widely used database of this type in the world, by both large companies and startups.

The project was soon up and running and a prototype was built in less than three months. Since then, Transparency-One has extended the solution with the addition of new modules, and it is currently being deployed by several companies.

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