The four key technologies driving change in the supply chain are blockchain, the internet of things (IoT), robotic process automation(RPA) and data science (BIRD)
Blockchain generates data trust by enabling all players in a network to share a single (encrypted) database. Anyone with access can track the status and location of a shipment and, more importantly, identify opportunities for efficiencies on a larger scale than has been previously possible.
IoT technology is essential for gathering a vast number of data points. By implementing a system of smart sensors, stakeholders can accurately track sensory data (e.g., location, moisture, temperature, shock), reliably calculating arrival times and proactively responding to disrupted shipments.
RPA improves data accuracy in the chain by substituting human input (and resulting error potential) with software robots that update data within applications by reading them from other applications. This closes the “data confidence gap” when a chain of data updates is required (as in supply chains) to complete the visibility picture.
Data science is the key to unlocking this collective data value and making smarter decisions. Advanced machine learning is continuing to evolve, and AI will one day be used at each stage of the supply chain, although we are some way off this yet. In the meantime, setting up shared databases and making common inferences should be the focus.
Now is the time to think about how these technologies can be transformed into deliverable solutions. We’ve spent a long time researching these revolutionary technologies, but only by starting to incorporate them into existing processes can we unlock their full potential.
Organizations at the front of the curve have been analyzing how these exciting digital solutions fit into their businesses, and at our company, we’ve supported a few pilots of certain technologies with clients who are eager to move their companies forward. So what are the key considerations when piloting new technologies?
With a number of technologies waiting to be tested, companies must take an agile, experimental approach. Rather than endeavoring to carry out large-scale trials across the whole organization, businesses should start by implementing the technology in a specific part of the process and gradually scale it up. Working in this way will allow trials to be integrated into day-to-day operations, quickly and effectively gathering firsthand data on multiple technologies.
Selecting the right team is vital to running a successful pilot. Ideally, you want a mix of experts who can provide insight on how the technology can be applied to a specific part of the process and the impact this will have on wider business operations. They must also have the analytical skills needed to evaluate the findings and report back to stakeholders. Most importantly, they must be passionate about innovation.
Carrying out individual pilots is one thing, but companies must push the boundaries of cocreation to test these technologies on a larger scale. Any change to the process will have knock-on effects along the supply chain, and the success of many technologies will depend on strong communication. Running pilots with trusted partners of different sizes will allow companies to analyze the adaptability of new technologies. Partners will need to start by agreeing on the problem they are trying to solve and the method they are going to use, as well as how they will measure success and share findings.
Our company’s partnership with electrified trucking company Hyliion is an example of how companies can collaborate to create a more efficient, greener supply chain. We’re helping the company with its long-haul, fully electric powertrain — the HyperTruck ERX. It can achieve a net-negative greenhouse gas emissions footprint using renewable natural gas, and the system’s machine learning algorithm further optimizes energy efficiency, emissions, performance and predictive maintenance schedules.
Before embarking on a pilot, companies must set out some clear performance indicators and decide on a system for recording results. New technology may show promise for a specific task, but can it be scaled up? What impact would it have on costs, revenue and customer satisfaction? Approaching trials scientifically will help to determine the long-term value these technologies could have in terms of business performance.
Many pilots will inevitably encounter problems, but these experiences are still valuable. A comprehensive debriefing process is necessary to identify whether a failure was due to a weakness in the product or the process and whether these problems could be ironed out through further testing.
Of course, with the logistics industry evolving rapidly, there is no fixed end to the experimentation process. Companies that adopt this systematic approach with an analytical eye and a resilient attitude will thrive in the big data revolution. Organizations must be willing to disrupt their current processes and collaborate because partnerships will be crucial for implementing new technology and making digital supply chain dreams a reality.
How Can Blockchain Transform Our Lives in the Near Future?
Blockchain is one of the emerging transformative technology of the 21st century. While it may have origins from cryptocurrency and Bitcoin, its applications sure go far beyond those. It draws its name from the cryptographically encrypted chunks (called blocks) where information is stored. This information is an encrypted data which is a cryptographic hash map of the previous data, timestamp, and new data. The next successive block contains information about the last block by forming a chain, hence the name Blockchain.
It provides an architecture that allows us to trust on a decentralized system (Internet or Web) rather than trusting any actor within it. It is a ledger that is shared between multiple entities that everyone can inspect, but not any single user can control it. This also eliminates the middleman in the whole transaction process. Since the privacy of the Blockchain is maintained by high-end cryptographic hash functions and public-key cryptography, it offers enhanced transparency and fairness while also saving businesses time and money. Eversince Satoshi Nakamoto had published his paper on Blockchain with the implementation of Bitcoin, this technology has been through massive updates that resulted in numerous applications of Blockchain. Some of these are:
Banking: With the help of Blockchain, transferring of the money or funds from one to another person can be done a second because the validation of the transaction will take place by uses of Blockchain and cryptography. This will also reduce the chances of the hacking of account. It can also undercut hard money lending by allowing a stranger to loan you money and taking your smart property as collateral. Either case, there would not be any need to show the lender credit or work history, nor manually process the numerous documents. Companies: Chainalysis, Circle
Healthcare: Here, personal health records could be encoded and stored on the Blockchain with a private key which would grant access only to specific individuals. This database will be highly secure and for checking the data related to the patient. Doctorshave to log in there with the public key in case he wishes to check the data of the patients. Companies: MedRec, Nano Vision,
Internet of Things: IoT has millions of applications, and with devices and sensors getting added to the framework every minute, the concerns about the safety of data collected from these sources increase too. Blockchain-infused IoT adds a higher level of security to prevent data breaches by utilizing transparency and virtual incorruptibility of the technology to keep things smart. Its ledger system ensures that information is only accepted and released to trusted parties. Further, by encrypting IoTdevices on the Blockchain, it protects your ownership and enables transferability.
Tesla is using blockchain technology to help with its Gigafactory Shanghai logistic
Tesla has been confirmed to be a partner in a new project to use blockchain technology to help with logistics in importing products for Gigafactory Shanghai.
CargoSmart, a company specializing in shipment management technology, announced the completion of a successful pilot project with COSCO SHIPPING LINES, Shanghai International Port Group (SIPG), and Tesla for a new application to “transform the cargo release process.”
They claim that it was “among the first pilot projects with an ocean carrier conducting a real-time exchange of shipment data with a terminal operator through blockchain.”
Blockchain is mostly known for its role in cryptocurrency, but it consists of a way to record transactions in an open, distributed ledger.They described the pilot program in a press release today:
During the pilot in December 2019, COSCO and SIPG streamlined the cargo release process by enabling Tesla to accelerate its cargo pick up procedures on a trusted and secure platform (related post on COSCO’s official WeChat account). The pilot also allowed SIPG to view a single, trusted source of COSCO’s sea waybill data, enabling faster preparation of delivery orders for consignees and their shipping agents. In late March 2020, CargoSmart further enhanced the application to display laden gate out, appointment date, and terminal release, enabling shippers to have better visibility of their cargoes.
COSCO confirmed that Tesla used the new blockchain application to import auto parts used in its Gigafactory Shanghai, where it produces Model 3 vehicles for the Chinese market.
CargoSmart announced that the pilot program was successful, and they plan to move forward with their partners.
While it’s the first time we’ve heard of Tesla using blockchain in its business, the company has been linked to some crypto projects in the past.
The automaker’s onboard computers are quite powerful, and some owners have tried to use them to mine cryptocurrency.
Blockchain Trends 2020
Despite the detractors, companies are getting serious about blockchain. In the latest IDC survey, over 50 percent of companies expected blockchain to drive digital transformation over the next three to five years. Similarly, Gartner reported that 60 percent of surveyed CIOs expect some kind of blockchain deployment in the next three years. As for industries that have already deployed blockchain or plan to deploy it in the next 12 months, Gartner found that “financial services leads the way (18 percent), followed by services (17 percent) and transportation (16 percent).” Blockchain appealed to professionals in these industries who are in search of ways to use it in areas like recordkeeping and data management.
At Forrester, analysts saw companies replacing the irrational exuberance of mid-last-decade with “pragmatic and realistic approaches to blockchain projects.” While there are fewer in number, blockchain projects are “serious enterprise endeavors, rather than speculative proofs of concept.” Notably, these analysts sawinteroperability taking center stage. People on the chain want to understand what kind of interactivity is possible between participants and their data. As a result, Forrester predicted increasing focus on integration with existing systems.
Look to the supply chain for opportunities
Supply chain remains the odds on favorite when it comes betting on blockchain’s ability to deliver business value. That’s because behind every pallet of shipped products is a bevy of intertwined organizations including manufacturers, distributors, logistics providers, and retailers. Historically, companies have relied on error-prone, cumbersome paper-based recordkeeping to track pallets. In this VIDEO demonstration at the SAP TechEd event, Jose Prados, development expert at SAP, shared an example of how companies can combine blockchain data from pallets across the supply chain with business data for new insights using SAP Blockchain Services, SAP HANA, and SAP Analytics Cloud.
“Knowing how many pallets were sent isn’t nearly enough information for modern, global businesses,” said Prados. “Blockchain data provides everyone with real-time, automatic visibility into what pallets were delivered when and where. Companies can use this data to trigger more accurate and efficient payments to partners, including suppliers or logistics providers. They could also create a supplier dashboard to fine-tune sourcing strategies based on manufacturers’ recalls or payment habits, and they can calculate new KPIs and build new predictive models with more accurate data for more informed planning. This is applicable to any industry.”
IDC predicted that 85 percent of global container shipping will be tracked by blockchain; 50 percent of this transport will use blockchain-enabled cross-border payments by 2023. These analysts expected enterprises to invest “nearly $11 billion in blockchain services (consulting, implementation, maintenance, and support), spending over one-third of that investment on managed services” during the same timeframe.
Unlocking blockchain’s promised trust
Some industry watchers have high hopes for blockchain’s fundamental ability to foster greater trust and transparency for business. IDC analysts think blockchain “shows promise to provide the glue for some digital trust issues.” By 2023, Gartner predicted blockchain “will be scalable technically and will support trusted private transactions with the necessary data confidentiality.” IDC analysts looked ahead to 2024 when they said over 75 percent of regulated companies will adopt blockchain in support of explainable artificial intelligence (AI).
Unlimited possibilities for blockchain-driven value
Blockchain could be well-suited anywhere data needs to be shared securely between multiple participants. Gartner’s list of potential opportunities included claims processing for automobile, agriculture, travel, and life and health insurance, and product recalls. Gartner also included smart cities on their list of use cases where blockchain and IoT-based data supported “peer-to-peer energy trading, administration of electric vehicle charging, smart grid management and control of wastewater systems.”Blockchain obviously has a role to play in identity management, as well as payment and settlement(think: royalty payments, stock settlements, interbank payments, and commercial lending), By 2022, IDC said that 25 percent of digital rights will be processed on blockchains managed by distributors and content creators, brokering trust and transparency to prevent free consumption and illegal P2P sharing.
In a perfect world, blockchain will help fight identity fraud and counterfeit goods. It could help us quickly figure out where contaminated food originated, right down to the row of crops. It won’t happen overnight, but one way or another, blockchain will be part of the future.
Source: SAP News Center.
More than half of transportation and logistics professionals still use a pen and paper to manage their supply chain – here’s how blockchain could change that
Evaluating the Role of IoT and Blockchain in Transportation
Let’s assume IoT platforms are only as valuable as the data they generate. If that’s the case, blockchain technology might help enterprises exploit that data further.
The digital ledgering technology provides a clear way of logging and exchanging data securely among various members of an ecosystem. As a concept, this sounds like a no-brainer in the decentralized, increasingly digital economy. In the modern era, there is growing focus on customer experience, and where many different players in a supply chain may directly or indirectly impact customer experience. The challenge with blockchain over the years, however, has been that companies across industry verticals were not always sure what it was or how to use it. In addition, organizations mulling the use of blockchain must navigate how they could benefit from participating in ecosystems where data was shared more openly while also ensuring data entering into the ledger was accurate in the first place.
“The public perception from early news reports about blockchain was mostly about its place in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, and not as a decentralized, distributed asset exchange technology for sharing data with partners,” said Christian Reichenbach, global digital advisor at HPE. “The perception has started to change such that when we talk to enterprises, it has gone from being a technology that they were totally unfamiliar with to one where they understand the core ingredients of a blockchain solutions and can better assess it.”
While that lack of understanding remains a barrier to adoption of blockchain technology by some companies, another adoption hurdle is rooted in the willingness of companies to participate in more open ecosystems where data generated from one company’s IoT network, for example, could be shared with others in the ecosystem to solve common problems.
“I think there is still something that is not understood by all companies — that blockchain is a team sport,” Reichenbach said. “It is an open system and for open connected use cases, something where organizations want to collaborate with each other, and sometimes this is still not in the mindset of some of the enterprises today.”
The mindset has evolved to allow more investment in blockchain in industries like transportation and logistics. For example, companies in logistics are accustomed to working with various intermediaries to ship and deliver packages. From there, Reichenbach said, it has been a short jump to understanding how sharing data generated from one company’s IoT sensors at a port, in a warehouse or on a delivery truck could be shared with others in the supply chain to refine processes and provide better customer experiences.
As such, transportation and logistics is one of the sectors in which more companies have been embarking on proof-of-concept testing of use cases in IoT architectures join with blockchain to share encrypted data between parties. Reichenbach said.
“There is definitely deeper integration happening between IoT and blockchain,” he added.
Analysis published in: IoT World Today. Read full article.
Accenture patents two solutions to improve blockchain interoperability
Accenture has patented two solutions for enhancing interoperability of the blockchain technology.
According to the U. S. Patent and Trademark Office, the first patent was published in August 2018. The patent is a method to make cryptologic blockchains more interoperable. The patent explains that these solutions will allow the users to share their token data using a digital signature on the distributed ledger.
The document also explains that the solution can send a multi-signature certification message to a recipient who solicits information. This means that the receiver can then verify the digital signatures through public keys
Accenture’s second patent was filled in September 2018. The patent is also related to an interoperability smart contract solution. In the document, Accenture explained that this solution would use a pre-commit authorization. With this technology, people would be able to lock token data on the blockchain as this person awaits confirmation from the receiver before sending the tokens.
Last July, Accenture filed another blockchain-based patent aimed at improving its logistics network. According to information published on the USPTO website, Accenture wants to use blockchain technology to make its logistics operations more efficient, secure, and quick.
A few players have also filed to a similar patent solution. Reportedly, the USPTO granted a new blockchain patent to IBM for the implementation of decentralized technology to manage the operations of self-driving vehicles.
The USPTO also granted a patent to a multinational media corporation Thomson Reuters. The patent is for an identity management system that uses blockchain technology. As described in the patent, the system can receive an identity from an identity provider system and then store it on a blockchain in the form of an identity token.
Earlier this year, Accenture was among the few companies assessed by Everest Group as most capable of delivering blockchain solutions successfully. In the report, Accenture’s strengths were in its investments in research that have led to patents, open source contributions, partnerships with other companies and successful delivery of services.
Recently, Accenture joined the International Association of Trusted Blockchain Applications (INATBA). The European Union formed INATBA brings together various companies including cryptocurrency companies Ripple and Iota, leading information technology company IBM, and blockchain development company ConsenSys. INATBA’s primary goal is to advance blockchain technology.
The next integration evolution — blockchain
Large organizations have a large number of applications running in separate silos that need to share data and functionality in order to operate in a unified and consistent way. The process of linking such applications within a single organization, to enable sharing of data and business processes, is called enterprise application integration (EAI).
Similarly, organizations also need to share data and functionality in a controlled way among themselves. They need to integrate and automate the key business processes that extend outside the walls of the organizations. The latter is an extension of EAI and achieved by exchanging structured messages using agreed upon message standards referred to as business-to-business (B2B) integration.
Fundamentally, both terms refer to the process of integrating data and functionality that spans across multiple systems and sometimes parties. The systems and business processes in these organizations are evolving, and so is the technology enabling B2B unification.
Evolution of integration
There isn’t a year when certain integration technologies became mainstream; they gradually evolved and built on top of each other. Rather than focusing on the specific technology and year, let’s try to observe the progression that happened over the decades and see why blockchain is the next technology iteration.
Next we will explore briefly the main technological advances in each evolutionary step listed in the table above.
This is one of the oldest mechanisms for information access across different systems with the following two primary examples:
- Common database approach is used for system integration within organizations.
- File sharing method is used for within and cross-organization data exchange. With universal protocols such as FTP, file sharing allows exchange of application data running across machines and operating systems.
But both approaches are non-real-time, batch-based integrations with limitations around scalability and reliability.
While data integration provided non-real-time data exchange, the methods described here allow real-time data and importantly functionality exchange:
- Remote procedure call provides significant improvements over low-level socket-based integration by hiding networking and data marshaling complexity. But it is an early generation, language-dependent, point-to-point, client-server architecture.
- Object request broker architecture (with CORBA, DCOM, RMI implementations) introduces the broker component, which allows multiple applications in different languages to reuse the same infrastructure and talk to each other in a peer-to-peer fashion. In addition, the CORBA model has the notion of naming, security, concurrency, transactionality, registry and language-independent interface definition.
- Messaging introduces temporal decoupling between applications and ensures guaranteed asynchronous message delivery.
So far we have seen many technology improvements, but they are primarily focused on system integration rather than application integration aspects. From batch to real-time data exchange, from point-to-point to peer-to-peer, from synchronous to asynchronous, these methods do not care or control what is the type of data they exchange, nor force or validate it. Still, this early generation integration infrastructure enabled B2B integrations by exchanging EDI-formatted data for example, but without any understanding of the data, nor the business process, it is part of.
With CORBA, we have early attempts of interface definitions, and services that are useful for application integration.
The main aspects of SOA that are relevant for our purpose are Web Services standards. XML providing language-independent format for exchange of data, SOAP providing common message format and WSDL providing an independent format for describing service interfaces, form the foundation of web services. These standards, combined with ESB and BPM implementations, made integrations focus on the business integration semantics, whereas the prior technologies were enabling system integration primarily.
Web services allowed systems not to exchange data blindly, but to have machine readable contracts and interface definitions. Such contracts would allow a system to understand and validate the data (up to a degree) before interacting with the other system.
I also include microservices architectural style here, as in its core, it builds and improves over SOA and ESBs. The primary evolution during this phase is around distributed system decomposition and transition from WS to REST-based interaction.
In summary, this is the phase where, on top of common protocols, distributed systems also got common standards and contracts definitions.
While exchanging data over common protocols and standards helps, the service contracts do not provide insight about the business processes hidden behind the contracts and running on remote systems. A request might be valid according to the contract, but invalid depending on the business processes’ current state. That is even more problematic when integration is not between two parties, as in the client-server model, but among multiple equally involved parties in a peer-to-peer model.
Sometimes multiple parties are part of the same business process, which is owned by no one party but all parties. A prerequisite for a proper functioning of such a multi-party interaction is transparency of the common business process and its current state. All that makes the blockchain technology very attractive for implementing distributed business processes among multiple parties.
This model extends the use of shared protocols and service contracts with shared business processes and contained state. With blockchain, all participating entities share the same business process in the form of smart contracts. But in order to validate the requests, process and come to the same conclusion, the business processes need also the same state, and that is achieved through the distributed ledger. Sharing all the past states of a smart contract is not a goal by itself, but a prerequisite of the shared business process runtime.
Looked at from this angle, blockchain can be viewed as the next step in the integration evolution. As we will see below, blockchain networks act as a kind of distributed ESB and BPM machinery that are not contained within a single business entity, but spanning multiple organizations.
Integration technology moving into the space between systems
First the protocols (such as FTP), then the API contracts (WSDL, SOAP) and now the business processes themselves (smart contracts) and their data are moving outside of the organizations, into the common shared space, and become part of the integration infrastructure. In some respect, this trend is analogous to how cross-cutting responsibilities of microservices are moving from within services into the supporting platforms.
With blockchain, common data models and now business processes are moving out of the organizations into the shared business networks. Something to note is that this move is not universally applicable and it is not likely to become a mainstream integration mechanism. Such a move is only possible when all participants in the network have the same understanding of data models and business processes; hence, it is applicable only in certain industries where the processes can be standardized, such as finance, supply chain, health care, etc.
US Blockchain Engineers Earning as Much as AI Specialists
The fast-growing blockchain technology sector has created a high demand for talent and this has consequently resulted in blockchain engineers being among the best-remunerated in the tech sector.
According to CNBC, the average pay for blockchain engineers in the United States is between US$150,000 and US$175,000 making it comparable to what developers who specialize in another high-demand field, artificial intelligence, make. The two fields now currently offer the highest-earning specialized engineering roles. Typical software engineers make an average of US$135,000.
This comes at a time when the job postings requiring blockchain technology skills have increased dramatically. For instance, Hired, a San Francisco, California-based tech sector recruitment firm which provided CNBC with the salary stats in the tech sector, has seen a 400% increase in the job postings seeking employees with blockchain technology skills since late last year.
“There’s a ton of demand for blockchain. Software engineers are in very short supply, but this is even more acute and that’s why salaries are even higher,” Hired’s CEO, Mehul Patel, told the business news TV channel.
This is similar to a finding by jobs site Glassdoor which saw job listings related to blockchain and cryptocurrencies increase by 300% in August 2018 compared to the same period last year. In the United States, most of the blockchain-related jobs are located in New York City (24%) and San Francisco (21%). Outside the United States the top-five cities with the highest number of blockchain-related job openings were London (16%), Singapore (7%), Toronto (7%), Hong Kong (6%) and Berlin (4%).
Walmart urges its suppliers to use IBM blockchain technology
The IBM Food Trust will work to manage traceability in the food supply chain in two phases, allowing Walmart to tack food efficiently in a large system.
“With the traditional paper-based method of capturing information that exists at many farms, packing houses and warehouses, tracking down important data from multiple sources is extremely time-consuming,” the press release added.
“The food system is absolutely too large for any single entity to [track],” remarked Frank Yiannas, Vice President of Food Safety at Walmart. “We’ve been working with IBM to digitize that, so the information is captured on the farm with a handheld system. It’s [also] captured at the packing house at the supplier.” “In the future, using the technology we’re requiring, a customer could potentially scan a bag of salad and know with certainty where it came from.”
(Source: Supply Chain Digital)
The digitization of international shipping via the blockchain could save up to 20 percent of its total cost.
The implementation of a blockchain would greatly reduce fraud and errors, as well as current transit times and shipping. The stakes are high: 9 out of every 10 commodities shipped around the world are shipped by sea, and the cost of processing and administering commercial documentation accounts for nearly a fifth of ocean freight costs. Today, international shipping of goods needs to be inspected on average by nearly 30 organizations during its journey, which represents a significant cost. Also, the process is still largely based on paper and manual checks. If a paper document is missing at one stage of the process, for example at an intermediate point, it is a whole container (or several) that must remain in place. The transport can then be delayed by several days; worse, it is sometimes necessary to discard the entire container because storage conditions during the waiting do not always allow good conservation of goods.
For these reasons, the digitization of international shipping via the blockchain could save up to 20 percent of its total cost.
In concrete terms, the system would work as follows: when one of the actors in the supply chain signs a document associated with a given container, a digital version of the document would be created. A unique and encrypted digital fingerprint associated with this document would then be written on a blockchain accessible to all other stakeholders (note that it is also possible to directly store the data on a private blockchain). In the event of a posteriori dispute, everyone could re-read the register and make sure that no one has modified it in the meantime.
The use of different sensors and NFC or RFID chips would facilitate the collection of data on the position of the cargo, and its conditions of transport, and write these data automatically on the blockchain used.
How Blockchain Will Transform The Supply Chain And Logistics Industry
Our current supply chain is broken in several ways. Over a hundred years ago, supply chains were relatively simple because commerce was local, but they have grown incredibly complex. Throughout the history of supply chains there have been innovations such as the shift to haul freight via trucks rather than rail or the emergence of personal computers in the 1980s that led to dramatic shifts in supply chain management. Since manufacturing has been globalized, and a large portion of it is done in China, our supply chains are heavy with their own complexity.
It’s incredibly difficult for customers or buyers to truly know the value of products because there is a significant lack of transparency in our current system. In a similar way, it’s extremely difficult to investigate supply chains when there is suspicion of illegal or unethical practices. They can also be highly inefficient as vendors and suppliers try to connect the dots on who needs what, when and how.
What is blockchain and how could it help supply chains?
While the most prominent use of blockchain is in the cryptocurrency, Bitcoin, the reality is that blockchain—essentially a distributed, digital ledger—has many applications and can be used for any exchange, agreements/contracts, tracking and, of course, payment. Since every transaction is recorded on a block and across multiple copies of the ledger that are distributed over many nodes (computers), it is highly transparent. It’s also highly secure since every block links to the one before it and after it. There is not one central authority over the blockchain, and it’s extremely efficient and scalable. Ultimately, blockchain can increase the efficiency and transparency of supply chains and positively impact everything from warehousing to delivery to payment. Chain of command is essential for many things, and blockchain has the chain of command built in. The very things that are necessary for reliability and integrity in a supply chain are provided by blockchain. Blockchain provides consensus—there is no dispute in the chain regarding transactions because all entities on the chain have the same version of the ledger. Everyone on the blockchain can see the chain of ownership for an asset on the blockchain. Records on the blockchain cannot be erased which is important for a transparent supply chain.
Examples of blockchain being used in supply chains today
Since blockchains allow for transfer of funds anywhere in the world without the use of a traditional bank, it’s very convenient for a supply chain that is globalized. That’s exactly how Australian vehicle manufacturer Tomcar pays its suppliers—through Bitcoin.
In the food industry, it’s imperative to have solid records to trace each product to its source. So, Walmart uses blockchain to keep track of its pork it sources from China and the blockchain records where each piece of meat came from, processed, stored and its sell-by-date. Unilever, Nestle, Tyson and Dole also use blockchain for similar purposes.
BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining firm, announced it will use blockchain to better track and record data throughout the mining process with its vendors. Not only will it increase efficiency internally, but it allows the company to have more effective communication with its partners.
The transparency of blockchain is also crucial to allow consumers to know they are supporting companies who they share the same values of environmental stewardship and sustainable manufacturing. This is what the project Provenance hopes to provide with its blockchain record of transparency.
Bloomberg analysis highlighted in the Blog of Víctor Vilas, Business Development Director of AndSoft
Convinced that blockchain is on the brink of transforming the package-delivery business, FedEx Corp. is testing the technology to track large, higher-value cargo. “We’re quite confident that it has big, big implications in supply chain, transportation and logistics,” Chief Executive Officer Fred Smith said at a blockchain conference in New York on Monday. “It’s the next frontier that’s going to completely change worldwide supply chains.”
Blockchain uses computer code to record every step of a transaction and delivery in a permanent digital ledger, providing transparency. The ledger can’t be changed unless all involved agree, reducing common disputes over issues like time stamps, payments and damages.
FedEx’s interest in blockchain and the Internet of Things are part of the company’s strategy to improve customer service and fend off competition, Smith said. FedEx is working with an organization called the Blockchain in Transport Alliance that is attempting to set industry standards for using the technology in transportation.
Blockchain has the potential to lower transaction costs, speed up processes and free up working capital, according to the alliance.
FedEx is also experimenting with a small bluetooth-based, low-energy tracking sensor called Tron, Chief Information Officer Robert Carter said at the conference. The company has taken out more patents on Tron than any other technology in the company’s history. FedEx is also part of a team announced on May 9 that will test small drone flights at the Memphis International Airport. Unless a company embraces new technologies such as blockchain, it will face “probably, at some point, extinction,” the CEO said.
Blockchain is no longer a technology of study, analysis and possibilities. Today, Blockchain is already applied in companies interested in obtaining the best results for their supply chain. We highlight, then, two Success Stories: Diamonds and Oil.
Zandi Shabala, editor Hugh Lawson, publishes in Business o Fashion: Five diamond manufacturers worked with De Beers to develop the blockchain platform called Tracr, which will be launched and made available to the rest of the industry at the end of the year. Anglo American’s De Beers said on Thursday it had tracked 100 high-value diamonds from miner to retailer using blockchain, in the first effort of its kind to clear the supply chain of imposters and conflict minerals. De Beers, the world’s biggest diamond producer by the value of its gems, has led industry efforts to verify the authenticity of diamonds and ensure they are not from conflict zones where gems may be used to finance violence.
“An immutable and secure digital trail was created for a selection of rough diamonds mined by De Beers as they moved from the mine to cutter and polisher, then through to a jeweler,” De Beers said in a statement. Five diamond manufacturers worked with De Beers to develop the blockchain platform called Tracr, which will be launched and made available to the rest of the industry at the end of the year, the company said.
The manufacturers involved in the pilot were Diacore, Diarough, KGK Group, Rosy Blue NV and Venus Jewel. The pilot was announced in January and had an initial focus on larger stones. Blockchain is a shared database of transactions maintained by a network of computers on the internet that is best known as the system underpinning bitcoin. “The Tracr project team has demonstrated that it can successfully track a diamond through the value chain, providing asset-traceability assurance in a way that was not possible before,” De Beers chief executive Bruce Cleaver said.
Blockchain and Supply Chain Management Oil and Gas
Petroteq Energy Inc. a company focused on the development and implementation of proprietary technologies for the energy industry, today announced components and features of its proposed blockchain based oil & gas supply management platform.
The Company has received numerous expressions of interest from industry participants and the trade press. In an effort to describe the applications of blockchain in a more granular way to develop an understanding in the industry, Petroteq would like to unveil some of the targeted capabilities of its PetroBLOQ platform.
At the plant level the Company believes that PetroBLOQ’s platform will make oil production, the facilities maintenance and capacity upgrades more cost efficient and transparent. Additionally, PetroBLOQ intends on the platform providing a safer working environment for its users and its employees. These intended benefits will come from the deployment of a network of Internet of Things (IoT) sensors throughout the plant to monitor its operations. In addition to being able to monitor operations PetroBLOQ also intends on being able to use blockchain to start and end processes and adjust parameters using the data collected by its IoT sensor network.
This capability has the added benefit of eventually reducing the manpower required to operate as the components of a blockchain enabled plant will be able to communicate as a network at the facility and be controlled remotely. PetroBLOQ believes that these technologies will extend to wearable devices, and smart analytics that will maximize production efficiency.
“PetroBLOQ recently opened its development labs for blockchain solutions for the oil & gas industry and looks forward to being at the forefront of the deployment of technologically advanced solutions for our industry,” stated Mr. Blyumkin, Petroteq’s CEO.
Source: Víctor Vilas, AndSoft
Could Blockchain Be the Future of Your Supply Chain?(
Supply chain is one of the most evolving areas in business technology, with trillions of purchase orders, invoices, certifications, and payments sent every day between companies.
In a lot of cases, suppliers and sellers have agreements on quality, speed, service levels and more, when one of these transactions doesn’t meet specification, it can cost both parties time and money to figure out the problem and come up with a timely solution.
According to Accenture, ten percent of freight invoices are problematic. These can include duplication, wrong freight mode changes, and incorrect fees. With the complex supply systems companies have, it can also take one side a while to figure out who is at fault.
One solution to this ever-growing list of invoices and other pieces of certification is the blockchain. The open ledger has been cited a potential solution to a lot of the tech-worlds problems, and a new report suggests that it could significantly improve communication and understanding between supply chain partners.
Instead of having companies send thousands of documents at each other every day, all information would be stored on the blockchain. The transparent nature of the blockchain also removes the need to send a purchase order of materials, as the other party will know how much inventory the supplier has, what service level is required and the rate they will consume the material.
Going further, the blockchain could also introduce “smart contracts” for business partners. These contracts detect infractions in the supply chain and prevent the record being entered, thus removing the need for a party to investigate what went wrong and how much is owed.
This puts the onus on the seller to correct bad invoices, not the purchaser. With the blockchain, all the information to correct is openly available and, if secure through encryption, cannot be tampered with by either party.
Another plus to the blockchain it is a single system, replicated for all partners. When a new partner joins, there is no need for a unique implementation process.
Your supply chain has changed an awful amount in the past decade, as Amazon and other marketplaces have made one-day shipping and other backend marvels the norm. But all of this additional data — delivery confirmations, transport order, inventory numbers, invoices — has led to major data redundancies across trading partner networks, something that could be reduced with the blockchain.
Adopting of the blockchain in the supply chain may take a while to come along, but early adopters could be looking at a decrease in redundancy and an increase in all of the things partners aspire towards when they first shake hands—communication and good contract standards.