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Blockchain in Supply Chain | Track and Trace with Blockchain Technology

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Blockchain has the reputation of being a miracle cure. Our supply chain specialists assess its actual potential.

Another new technology to think about another day.

Blockchain, the system designed to facilitate bitcoin transactions, is to blame this time.

In the opinion of its proponents, notably in the financial industry, blockchain technology has the power to drastically increase the productivity and profitability of the majority of firms, if not all of them—or perhaps to completely transform the way we do business.

These early adopters assert that companies that disregard blockchain technology do so at their peril.

 

However, how real are these powerful words?

Does the supply chain industry actually use blockchain technology?

Can it boost your profitability and resolve your supply-chain issues? Supply-chain executives have asked us a number of very practical questions.

Our objectives are to help you comprehend the fundamentals of blockchain technology and to save you the time-consuming process of learning, experimenting, and evaluating its usability for your business.

 

Blockchain's Tangible Benefits in Existing Blockchain in Supply Chain

Without blockchain technology, today’s supply networks can typically run efficiently.

But the supply chain and IT industries are thrilled about the technology.

Numerous articles have been written about it, and both well-known IT companies and newcomers have started fruitful pilot projects as a result, including:

In order to verify transactions, transaction correctness, and the effectiveness of record keeping, Walmart tested an application that tracks pigs in China and produce in the US.

Blockchain technology is being used by Maersk and IBM to develop cross-border, multi-party transactions that will increase process effectiveness.

BHP is working on a blockchain solution that will replace spreadsheets for the purpose of tracking samples both internally and externally from different vendors.

A UK startup called Provenance recently secured $800,000 to help it trace food using blockchain technology. The Southeast Asian supply chain for tracing tuna has already been tested.

The authors have not yet come across any large-scale uses of blockchain technology in the supply chain, which begs the crucial question of whether or not it can improve supply chains.

First, let’s face the facts: many of today’s supply networks, as most practitioners are aware, have reliable data that can be sent between supply chain layers almost instantly.

We examined three potential application areas for blockchain technology in the supply chain industry to evaluate its potential value:

replacing laborious, manual procedures. Despite the fact that supply chains can now manage large, complex data sets, many of their processes—particularly those at the lowest supply tiers—are slow and exclusively dependent on paper, as is still frequently the case in the shipping business.

The improvement of traceability Consumer and regulatory needs for provenance data are already driving change.

The significant costs of quality issues, such as recalls, reputational harm, or the loss of revenue from black- or grey-market items, are reduced by strengthening traceability, which also provides value.

More value-creation potential can be realised by streamlining a complicated supplier base (see sidebar, “A complex supply chain of unknown parties”).

cutting the cost of IT transactions in the supply chain. This advantage is still more hypothetical than real at this point.

Every block or transaction in Bitcoin is validated by those who are paid, and those who suggest additional blocks are also required to include a fee in their suggestion.

As a result of supply networks’ often-staggering scope, such a fee would likely be unaffordable. For instance, over the course of a 90-day period, one automaker may issue 10 billion call-offs to only its tier-one suppliers.

Furthermore, the total number of those transactions would considerably increase the demand for data storage, which is a crucial aspect of the distributed-ledger technology used by blockchain.

In the context of a supply chain, especially one including permissionless blockchains, it would also be impractical to create and maintain several copies of data sets.

 

Using Blockchain to Track and Trace (Blockchain in Supply Chain)

Without the requirement for a central authority to oversee transactions, blockchain technology can be used to create apps that allow numerous participants to deal directly through a peer-to-peer network.

There is no one network owner, and each network user has access to a shared ledger that securely and immutably records all transactions.

With the use of blockchain, supply chain firms may record production updates to a single shared ledger, providing total data visibility and a single source of truth.

Transactions are constantly time-stamped and current, allowing businesses to monitor the status and whereabouts of a product at any time.

This helps to avoid issues like bogus goods and compliance. Additionally, quick action can be taken in an emergency (such as a product recall), and the ledger audit trail guarantees regulatory compliance.

By combining blockchain technology with other cutting-edge technologies like the Internet of Things, supply chains may also automate tracking the circumstances around production, shipping, and quality control.

In order to confirm the legitimacy of the products and the integrity of the supply chain, businesses can also decide to share track-and-trace information with their clients.

 

Think Twice Before Embracing Blockchain Technology

Although it is not yet ready for widespread deployment, our research indicates that blockchain technology may potentially be a good answer for some kinds of supply chains.

We support this opinion with the following:

  • Blockchain trials conducted so far have not demonstrated the technology’s special value for the supply-chain industry.
  • Data from a large number of untrusted parties cannot currently be collected using blockchain technology.
  • There are alternatives to blockchain technology for delivering complete transparency or traceability.
  • Due to the lack of current standards, the cost of creating and maintaining a blockchain is not yet known.
  • The capacity needed by supply chains will be far greater than what blockchain can now handle

Blockchain technology can offer trust, transparency, and traceability to supply chains where players are unknown or not trusted.

These supply chains are almost by definition complicated, multi-tiered, include several parties, and operate in a regulated environment that necessitates a higher level of traceability.

For supply chains with recognizable and trustworthy actors, a centralized database strategy is often more than adequate.

This does not imply that all of these supply chains currently operate in a truly end-to-end manner; in fact, a large number of them make use of siloed databases that include data with only a few degrees of traceability.

Because businesses may use current technologies that are better suited to their high volume of transactions, either alone or in collaboration with partners, many of these supply chains do not need blockchain technology to address these concerns.

It is too soon to assess and compare the operating expenses of blockchain technology in the supply chain industry to those of other technologies.

Without a doubt, IT businesses will be prepared to offer this information.

But the value proposition needs to be crystal clear.

How efficient are internal transactions?

How much may litigation, recalls, and failed final products cost?

Would customers be willing to pay more for a product that is transparent across its production chain?

When evaluating the application of blockchain to supply chains, these kinds of queries should be made.

In related areas like the adoption of smart contracts, tightening the payment procedure for purchase orders, or demand chains where “real demand” signals can travel more swiftly along the upstream supply chain, many organizations are investigating the benefits of utilizing blockchain technology.

We recognize the power and potential of blockchain technology, but we implore the supply-chain community to carefully weigh it against the alternative, perhaps less expensive, and difficult technologies before making a choice.

 

Reliable, Open, and Trustworthy Supply Chains

Supply chain information is not always transparent, accessible, or reliable.

Through permissioned blockchain solutions, SDLC Blockchain enables supply chain partners to communicate reliable data.

This is much more important during disruptive times.

While supply chain actors seek responsible sourcing and more visibility to reduce disputes, businesses and consumers want brands to ensure the authenticity of products.

Supply chain leaders can leverage data from the blockchain for supply chain solutions to manage current disruptions and fortify resilience for the future.

 

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