Quite recently, the logistics industry was introduced to Edge and Fog cloud computing, to make the use of IoT devices (for analytics) cost-effective and efficient. As a result, the demand for IoT devices is expected to sky-rocket in the near-future
A few years after the advent of cloud computing solutions (2006), came cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin (2009) and Ethereum which leveraged blockchain to decentralize financial transactions. Decentralization as a concept excited a variety of industry leaders who saw great potential of the tech in their respective industries. This also meant leveraging blockchain technology for supply chain management could revolutionize the logistics industry forever.
Industry 5.0 as some already call it, blockchain could be the answer to the resilience organizations are striving to achieve. Many companies are still learning, testing and building blockchain applications across various domains to see what works best and how a particular function can be made smoother using blockchain for their core operations.
What is Blockchain Technology?
Blockchain is a decentralized, publicly distributed record-keeping technological solution that eliminates the need for any intermediaries to get involved. The data is time-stamped and it is very difficult to reverse or rewrite. This is because it is based on consensus, which means any changes to be made will have to be approved by all stakeholders involved or the majority in the distribution system. These features make it a transparent and trusted system to work with. Naturally, some believe great strides can be made by leveraging this technology for supply chain integration. It has all the benefits that could streamline the supply chain- transparency, traceability plus heightened visibility, collaboration, coordination, and planning.
Integrate Supply Chain with Blockchain Solutions
Few use-cases of Blockchain technology in the supply chain include-
Improving production efficiency
Transparency and traceability plays a huge role in industrial production. From sourcing of raw materials, quality control, managing product recalls and tracing back discrepancies from when they occurred. Every player, every step can be recorded immediately. Delays in procurement, financial transactions, can be reduced thanks to a much stronger collaboration between third-parties.
An added bonus, it is now much easier to build authenticity and trust. There is a blockchain-powered ‘Proof of Ownership’ stamp that assures customers that the product they purchased is not counterfeit and is of the highest quality. For sectors such as pharmaceuticals, this is a noble solution to win the war on counterfeit drugs that penetrate the global pharma markets at alarmingly high rates.
Improving warehousing efficiency
The same principles apply for warehousing as well. From procurement, loading-unloading, picking-packaging and finally, shipping. Upholding the quality of data has always been a challenge for inventory management because a lot of paperwork is typically involved. However, with blockchain technology, there is high quality data from the daily operations which can be made available in real-time, thanks to digital processing of data. Thus, the entire inventory management process can be streamlined and improved for achieving higher efficiency.
Traceability of goods
Continuous updates through the supply chain provide all the parties involved, which may include manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, retailers or customers with the latest details about the whereabouts of their goods. This also improves resilience over the long run thanks to better risk analysis and management. Any issues that come up can be addressed quickly and prevented in the future. Organizations are also empowered to exercise more control on their supply chain activities.
Recent innovations by big players such as Oracle, Amazon and IBM have made blockchain technology much more accessible and easier to implement. Yet, one can argue that blockchain technology is still at its infancy and has a lot more scope for improvement. Just like how IoT and Cloud technology drastically improved through the years with a plethora of cloud players entering the market, the same can be expected in this sphere as well. Many organizations are currently testing out blockchain technology for various activities across the supply chain. There is a lot of optimism that the supply chain can be revolutionized with the help of blockchain technology in the next few years.