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Blockchain in Supply Chain: Is the Combination the Answer to the Sector’s Trustability Issues?
Over the last fifty years, supply chain management has evolved to become one of the most extensive and complex industries operational on a global landscape. This, for a number of sectors, doesn’t come off as a surprise. After all, the increasing globalization had to bring a surge in the complexity in supply chain management as a side effect.
But the use of blockchain in food supply chain is beneficial as it is rapidly addressing all the elements for ease of process and reducing the cost of the farming processes.
The problem, however, stands at the fact that although the business models and expectations have transformed, the issues around transparency and origin tracking continue to dominate the sector.
Fortunately, blockchain in supply chain poses to be the solution that might bring improvements in the problematic state of the current supply chain ecosystem. For instance, the use of blockchain in food supply chain is rapidly addressing all the issues for ease of process and reducing the cost of the farming processes.
Table of Content
Let’s discover in this article, where we will firstly outline the current landscape of the supply chain and then move to how Blockchain would make a difference.
So, without ado, let’s begin with a simple definition of Supply Chain Management (SCM).
Supply Chain Management (SCM), in layman’s language, is an approach to managing the flow of goods, resources, services, and information throughout the process of turning raw materials into a full-fledged finished product delivered at the customer end.
The supply chain process comprises seven core components, namely: Planning, Information, Source, Inventory, Production, Location, Transportation, and Return of Goods, with which it builds the basic infrastructure of any organization. It actually fuels the present and future of any business, and thus, holds a huge momentum in the business world.
However, due to growing security threats and changing consumer needs, the traditional supply chains are facing different challenges in delivering a highly-efficient and trustable ecosystem to all. A few of which we will touch upon in the next section of the article.
Despite the fact that our world has become interconnected, various organizations are still keeping their database confined to themselves. All the teams are making their individual records and sharing with each other only on request. A result of this is that there are various communication gaps between any two parties, which benefits the exploiters.
Another challenge found in supply chain management is the inability to trace assets. They have introduced the finest of equipment and processes for keeping an eye on inhouse activities, but no such method to trace the state of products once out for delivery. This is making it easier for exploiters to replace the original product with ‘lookalike’ counterfeit ones.
Since every team creates and maintains an individual database of data, they often invest their efforts and capital into gathering the same information again and again. This brings a drastic rise in the associated cost.
Because of discontinuity in the current SCM process, it is an extensive and expensive task to determine at which point the quality has been compromised, or the product has been replaced. Additionally, because of a centralized structure, company’s processes are generally exposed to multiple risks like code of conduct violations and frauds – highlighting the dire fact that there is a lack of effective risk management process in supply chain systems.
Last but not least, entrepreneurs are also finding it hard to stay updated with changing user demands and bringing required changes into their working strategies, when going with the current supply chain management process.
Because of such issues in the supply chain and the rising competition, most of the firms, if not all, have started showing an interest in the concept of introducing Blockchain in the supply chain. They are putting efforts into understanding the basics of Blockchain and the ways it is revamping different industries – be it Real Estate, Healthcare, Fintech, or Enterprise.
A blockchain supply chain is an innovative solution for a wide variety of problems. In a typical supply chain, different processes are involved, including procurement of raw material, manufacturing, financing, and so on. These processes can take place in one or more transactions.
In a blockchain supply chain, these one or more transactions are recorded on different blocks. These recordings are then distributed over a network of computer systems in the blockchain, which makes the information highly available and transparent.
Every single transaction that happens in the supply chain is archived on the blockchain and reflected in real-time, making each stakeholder an active participant in all the transactions.
Now that we know what blockchain in supply chain means, let us concentrate our discussion on the impact of blockchain in the supply chain by going through a pool of benefits.
A Blockchain-powered supply chain management process operates within the characteristics of transparency and decentralization. This makes it easier for one to be familiar with every activity going around at any point in time. The benefit of this is not just evident in the manufacturing sector, but also in how blockchain makes the fashion industry transparent.
Even though supply chains can handle complex and large data sets a number of the processes, specifically ones belonging to lower supply tiers are slow and heavily dependent on paper – something that is very common in the shipping industry. What worsens the process further is the presence of intermediaries. By replacing third-party intermediaries and elimination of the dependency on pen and paper with Smart Contracts, Blockchain also cuts down the operation time.
Growing demand and regulations around provenance information is driving considerable change in the supply chain domain. Better traceability through inclusion of blockchain technology in supply chain leads to an added value created by mitigation of high cost of quality-related issues like reputational damage, recalls, and revenue loss because of gray or black market products.
With the help of Blockchain, consumers are able to know everything about the product they are using. Blockchain for order management plays a huge role in elevating customer experience by making the process of order tracking transparent.. Additionally, customers are able to check the genuinity of their products. This is shaping a sense of trust among the consumers and the respective brands.
Above all, Blockchain is helping businesses in creating a better brand image in the decentralized market and enjoying higher ROI.
Blockchain in supply chain enables efficient licensing and ownership. By the help of smart contracts, blockchain can be applied to accurately license services, software, and products. Additionally, blockchain offers consensus – that means there is no dispute in chains related to the transactions by designs. All the entities present on the blockchain have the same ledger version added with the potential to track the ownership records.
The aforementioned pointers would have given you a sneak peek of what the application of blockchain in supply chain management means. But, for better clarity, let’s revisit the whole process of integration of Blockchain in the supply chain via this image.
With the benefits of blockchain in supply chain management covered, the next question to tackle is – Is there any practical implementation of Blockchain in the market? Does any brand encourage the idea of considering Blockchain in the supply chain?
Various brands, as mentioned in the image below, are already leveraging the benefits of the collaboration of Blockchain and Supply chain management to lay down the basis of blockchain-based supply chain management systems.
Various brands of different industries are already leveraging the benefits of the collaboration of blockchain and supply chain management to lay down the basis of blockchain-based supply chain management systems. Given below are a few popular examples of applications of blockchain in the supply chain.
Walmart, the retail giant, has integrated the blockchain technology into its food supply chain to add transparency to the decentralized food supply ecosystem. By placing the supply chain on blockchain, the company is able to track the provenance and condition of its pork items coming from China. The company is also able to keep a check on practices like if a farm has sold an infected batch to a specific location.
Brilliant Earth is a retailer of ethically sourced diamonds. The brand has integrated blockchain in the supply chain to more securely track the origins of its diamonds and give assurance to customers for its responsible actions. With a blockchain-enabled database, the brand is able to track the entire supply chain. The technology also allows all the supporting documentation, such as invoices and certifications, across the supply chain, in a more secure way.
With an objective to provide consumers with a better insight into their food origins, Bumble Bee Seafoods uses the blockchain technology to trace tuna’s journey from the ocean to the local retailers. Consumers can access the origin as well as history of Bumble Bee Seafood’s tuna by using their smartphones and scanning the QR codes given on the bags of tuna steaks.
Not only this, but the blockchain market in the supply chain domain is also expected to grow exponentially in the coming years.
The growing adoption of the technology in supply chain domain is making now the ebay time to partner with a skilled Blockchain development company and discover the many use cases of the technology & process convergence.
The convergence of Blockchain and AI will enable the former to manage data in a simplified and effective manner. It will also add more security to the ecosystem using the power of predictive analytics and improve scalability.
Introducing IoT in Blockchain, also termed as Blockchain of Things, will also improve its near future in the supply chain and logistics domain. The dual technologies will make it easier to keep a real-time track of every activity across the chain and inform the connected devices for troubleshooting purposes.
Another technology that will boost the use of Blockchain in the supply chain management process is Beacon. It will enable businesses to guide all of their coworkers and users about their product and its real-time status, which will bring a sense of trust in the whole process.
Until this point, we have looked into the many benefits that applications of blockchain in supply chain introduces in the sector in addition to how blockchain can be merged with new-gen technologies to double the value offering. However, for a business looking to enter the blockchain in supply chain ecosystem, it is important to understand and discuss the limitations of the convergence with their partnered blockchain app developers.
Supply chain management is one of the many areas that is impacted by blockchain technology. However, to successfully integrate the technology into your supply chain management, it is important that you keep yourself abreast with the top Blockchain technology trends and a set of technologies that would unfold better outcomes in the near future. It is also important to hire the best blockchain development services that can make the blockchain adoption process across your entire supply chain seamless and profitable.
Supply chain management is a cross-functional approach that involves managing everything right from the flow of raw materials to internal processing and delivery of the final product at the customers’ end. It holds huge importance in the market because it reduces operating time and cost, enhances the financial standards, boosts customer services, and more.
The role of blockchain in supply chain can include:
With multiple blockchain-based platforms and tools available in the industry,the best would vary from use case to use case for every blockchain supply chain management company. So, it is best to discuss with your hired blockchain development company and then make a decision.